by Maria Luci
Proving that search engine optimization really does matter, Teri Campbell was recently hired for a shoot by Yum! Brands after their creative team found him by Googling “food photography”. They were looking for a great food shooter for a new KFC campaign, and when Teri’s name popped up, they quickly clicked to his site. Ironically, Teri had already worked with KFC, shooting a year’s worth of their point-of-purchase and print imagery through Creative Alliance. But Yum! didn’t know this until they began reviewing his online portfolio.
They soon contacted Teri about creating iconic imagery to present each of KFC’s product lines: Original Recipe, Grilled, Pot Pies, Strips, etc. They wanted stand-out images to use on the KFC website, and their art director, Scott Howard, had the idea of using dark wood surfaces to make the food pop in an tasteful way. Teri took on the assignment, looking forward to the “opportunity to approach the KFC brand from a different direction, to try something new with the photography.”
Unlike KFC’s recipe, it’s no secret that Teri has an amazing studio, equipped with just about everything needed to shoot food artfully. However, what Teri didn’t have was dark wood surfaces, an integral part of the shoot. As luck would have it, he came across man selling walnut cutting boards at a flea market. Their finishes perfect—but they were far too small. Teri asked the man—Hayes Shanesy of the design firm Brush Factory—if he could make him any larger pieces, and he said yes.
Once he had the gorgeous (and appropriately sized) wood surface in place, Teri got to work photographing the chicken. Chicago-based food stylist William Smith came in to collaborate with Teri on the project. “He was a great choice because of his background styling for cookbooks and editorial work.” They also had a former KFC employee help them with the food preparation, since KFC required that they use specific equipment and procedures to make their dishes. This meant that Teri had to install fire suppression systems in his studio, so they could use the same pressure fryers as KFC uses in their restaurants—one more item to add to the list of Teri’s studio’s amenities! Once the chicken was cooked, William got to work styling everything.
The shoot spanned five days. The background image used is one that Teri shot several years ago. “It’s actually a garage door with glass panels, that has been manipulated to create the soft, out of focus background.” Once Teri handed over the images, Yum! added some steam before posting them on the KFC website. They liked the images so much, they’ve already started talking with Teri about using them in internal pieces and possibly in advertising. Teri says the project reminded him that “you can never stop marketing, even to current clients.”
View more at terishootsfood.com.