I caught up with Francisco to learn a little more about the background of this piece. “It’s interesting,” he told me, “what an advertising creative director, a top notch retoucher and a photographer come up with over some sushi and beer.”
The ideas emerged when Francisco and his creative director Nachi Ugarte learned that a mutual friend of theirs was breaking off from the restaurant business to start her own cake shop. Since she had catered birthday cakes for both of their kids, Francisco and Nachi were both excited to produce some advertising for the company, Divine Desserts.
Nachi had started by doing some freelance branding, creating the corporate image and logo, and he wanted to supplement that with a photo shoot for her emailers and cards. The team produced a brief based on the logo, a cherub with a halo around his belly, but decided to take things in an even more amusing direction. “We wanted to play on the angelic logo and the sinfulness of the cakes,” Francisco said, so they asked the client if she was interested in using photos of “people giving in to temptation, the temptation of her cakes.”
The idea was well-received, so they got together with Patrick Brass, a retoucher who was involved with the project starting at pre-production to help make sure all the appropriate textures were available—they settled on what Francisco described as a “slightly grimy look.”
They decided to shoot on a weekend, and picked Nachi’s kitchen as the location; “we went in and messed up the place,” Francisco admitted, “making sure it was spotless by the time his wife came back.” They used a dummy cake on set for placement. “The final cake in the shot was done in the studio a few days later to allow us better control,” Francisco said.
I asked Nachi if Francisco’s photographic style made a unique contribution to the ad. Nachi explained that for advertising photography,
the photographer needs to not only look at the aesthetics of the shot, but needs to also make sure it is transmitting very clearly the concept and message of the ad. Francisco had a very clear idea of what we were trying to communicate and kept that in mind throughout the whole shot—in lighting, casting and following through in the retouching. He made sure we had a beautiful shot but also, that at a glance, the viewer got the feeling, the humor and concept we were trying to transmit.