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Undergraduates serve up picture perfect plates

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of high quality ceramic tableware has commissioned undergraduates from the Hugh Baird University Centre to produce photography for their marketing communications.

Churchill 1795 deliver innovative table top products used in hospitality establishments in more than 70 countries worldwide. As a long-established partner and supplier to Hugh Baird’s L20 Hotel School, they were impressed by photos of their crockery being tweeted showing some of L20’s fine dining dishes. So they approached Hugh Baird’s photography students and the L20 Hotel School to commission their own photographs.

Undergraduates Amy Jay and Stephanie Fawcett are just about to progress from the Foundation Degree in Digital Imaging and Photography onto the BA (Hons) top up at the Hugh Baird University Centre, both of which are validated by the University of Central Lancashire. Having taken the original shots for L20 Hotel School’s social media, they were delighted to be approached to take on the live brief. To make sure they didn’t interrupt their coursework, and to fit with the client’s schedule, Amy and Steph took on the three day photoshoot before the end of their Summer break.

Amy said:

Although we had both worked on small live briefs before, this was our first commercial experience for a big brand. It was also our first experience of food photography and we were surprised at how different it was from the other work we’ve done.

The undergraduates explained that, having been used to studio work with fashion or portrait photography, they didn’t expect taking photos of crockery to be anywhere near as exciting or demanding, but were quickly proved wrong.

Steph said:

Attention to detail was very important and to start with we weren’t sure we were doing it right. As the shoot went on, I was surprised at how much more particular we became about everything. We learned to look at the tiniest details and make adjustments to get the best composition for the photographs.

Also involved in the project was L20 Hotel School Chef, Nick Boswell, who worked with Churchill’s Marketing and Graphic Design team and the photographers to produce dishes with creative impact to show off the crockery range.

Amy and Steph explained that Nick didn’t just create the food and present it beautifully on the plates, but he advised them how it should be positioned in the photographs, mirroring how it would be presented to the diner and meeting the expectations of any top flight chef.

Sophie Davies from Churchill’s Marketing Team said:

The dishes Nick produced, combined with the photographers’ keen eye for detail, resulted in some amazing shots. Photographs are vital in any marketing literature and these have really captured the prestige, elegance and style we wanted to convey.

Steph said:

Having the Churchill team there as Artistic Directors meant that, although we felt the pressure of having the client with us for the three days, we also felt exactly what it’s like to work in a professional environment.

Amy added:

Although Churchill knew what they wanted to achieve from the photographic brief, Steph and I were able to contribute with our own ideas and the shoot was a real collaboration between us, the chef and the client. We’re really looking forward to seeing the shots used in Churchill’s marketing materials and they’re a great addition to our portfolio too.

Shooting over three days in the photography studios at the Hugh Baird University Centre, the brief included creating and photographing twenty five dishes on Churchill’s ceramic ranges including Ambience, Alchemy White, Balance, Bamboo and their newest range, Stonecast.

Programme Leader for Digital Imaging and Photography at the Hugh Baird University Centre, Dave Lockwood, said:

We are always keen for undergraduates to take on live briefs, working with clients exactly as they would out in industry, so this has been a great opportunity. We were also lucky enough to be able to bring in retired photographer, Stephen Major, as a mentor on the project. Having specialised in food photography during his career, working with big brands such as Campbell’s Soup and Prestige, he was ideally placed to give the undergraduates the benefit of his experience. These shots will be a fantastic addition to the students' portfolios and feed very nicely into the first module of their BA programme, the Responsive Project.

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