Stephen DeVries: Gifs for Hispanic Heritage Month

Oct 7, 2015
Photographer Spotlight

GIFs—animated image files that look like a video—have recently seen a huge comeback in the advertising world. There are a few reasons for this: the .gif file format is now supported on most social media platforms, the endlessly looping animations are a fun, quick way to connect your brand to customers and, let's face it, consumer attention spans are shorter than ever.

In 2015, I've seen a surge in beautiful, well-designed GIFs that effectively advertise a brand while being pleasant to look at. Birmingham, Alabama-based photographer Stephen DeVries' recent GIF campaign for Publix Supermarkets' Hispanic Heritage Month is a great example of a perfectly executed GIF series. Check them out and read through a Q&A with Stephen below!

How does this project fit into your style?

I specialize in food and travel photography, so this shoot for Publix Supermarkets was right up my alley. They love a little more mood to their images which is definitely my style, and they specifically mentioned that they love “Garden & Gun” as an inspiration for images, which was perfect because I’ve shot for them and love the feel of their imagery. I actually got on this project somewhat by accident (although after working very hard to connect with Publix!). I was emailing to set up meetings with Atlanta agencies, and somehow an art director from the Tampa branch of the firm I was emailing with wound up accidentally on one of my emails. He liked my work and emailed me back that he was actually in Tampa, but was interested in connecting with me. That ended up leading to this campaign.

Were you shooting with the GIFs in mind? Did this present any styling challenges?

We started the project with a few final deliverables in mind, the animated GIFs being one of them, along with non-animated social media versions of the GIFs, and several in-store posters. I knew going into the project that the final images would have hand-drawn lettering, so we used some rough sketched layouts for composition and worked within the parameters of the final image sizes. It was a lot of fun working with the team to create the images as a place to hold the awesome hand-lettered animations and we were all really exited to see the final GIFs!

How were you involved in the conception/styling of this shoot? Was it similar to other tabletop shoots you’ve done in the past?

The team from 22Squared came to me with pretty well thought out concepts and sketches. From there I brought in Tami Hardeman, a food stylist based in Atlanta, to help on the project. We had a conference call and she came up with several recipe options, which the agency and client chose from for the final shot list. From there we brought in Missie Crawford, a Birmingham-based prop stylist, and the three of us created the concepts for the styling from the direction the agency gave us and the recipes that Tami had developed. I’ve done shoots like this in the past and always love being involved heavily in the concept and in picking my creative team—it always makes for an awesome shoot day and some really great final images.

What has the reaction to the images been so far? 

The agency loved the images and said that the client did as well…they’re up this month in Miami Publix Supermarkets and Sabor Supermarkets (Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th) as well as being used online for social media and the brand's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Did you learn anything through the creation of this series? 

Because of the number of images and amount of food needed for this one-day shoot, we chose to operate two photo sets simultaneously to maximize time. While I was shooting one set, Missie would be propping and setting up the other set, allowing us to bounce back and forth and keep moving seamlessly all day. I’ve worked on multi-set shoots for cookbooks before, but as an ad shoot with very specific formats—very tall in-store posters and very wide images for social media images—it was interesting and forced us to be on our toes all day. The two set approach worked great and we were able to get the shoot wrapped and the creative team to the airport on time and not feel rushed during the day!

To see more of Stephen's work, visit his website: stephendevriesphoto.com.

Tags: 22squared advertising alabama photographer birmingham photographer food fooddrink garden & gun gifs publix stephen devries