Content Is Queen: Perfecting The Process of Creation

By Jessica Fassett, Art Director, Second Sight Design

Move over King, we’re here to talk content. After you’ve defined and refined your restaurant’s logo and wordmark, it’s time to think about your imagery, a pivotal piece of the puzzle to reinforce your brand story.

The content you create provides visual commentary and promotes an aspirational view to your potential guests to be used on your website, social media, email campaigns and advertising. Second Sight Design has perfected the process and we’re here to break it down on how content is queen.

Review Concept, Create Prop List & Budget

When concepting photo shoots, we aim to capture the essence of a property and decide what story they’re trying to tell by imagining the tone of the brand. If your restaurant is fun and trendy you may depict models smiling while chatting and eating. Or if your brand is more hip and sultry, you’d opt for a more serious engagement at the table. We discuss the most essential elements of the restaurant to feature, including certain dishes, views, design features, tables and what prop accessories would really help highlight those touchstone details. 

We love to convey a “lived in” aesthetic thinking about our target audience and what items they would have with them at the table. If you’re dining on JRDN’s boardwalk patio, a guest will likely be seated with their sunglasses and hat while enjoying their al fresco dining experience. While plated food glamour shots can be great on their own, when thinking of lifestyle imagery we aim for the messy food shot to depict a realistic view of the table. Plates half eaten, forks in hand, chips being dipped, lemons squeezed over tacos – the more action the better. Including brand-specific props like menus and coasters also helps capture a more boutique shot. Budgets are important to flush out early in the process. We’ve worked with budgets of all sizes and talking numbers up front helps manage expectations to better plan for the photographer, models, team schedules, and physical props we’ll rent or purchase. 

Scout Locations

It’s important to know your location and any challenges that might exist within your space prior to the shoot. We schedule a walkthrough of the restaurant with the photographer prior to the shoot at the time of day we plan to photograph. Doing this allows an opportunity to identify and prepare for any potential lighting challenges ahead of time and gets the photographer better acquainted with the environment. To save time in the post editing process and avoiding the timely hassle of having to switch scenes or locations last minute, we plan to have the space look as clean and ready as possible by scheduling maintenance or repairs in advance.

Create a Shot List

Once we have our concept and locations nailed down, we set out to create our shot list. This frame-by-frame accounting helps us better plan our timeline, number of models needed and prop list. During this step we try to also think about where the images will be used. Being detail oriented is key here. Often, we’ll need images for a specific ad campaign or website hero image where text will be placed over the photo. We’ll note this in the shot list so the frame includes a solid color or less busy background around the product or model. Include the whole team in this step. Getting feedback from chefs, managers, and other restaurant staff on content they would like to see is helpful in telling a well-rounded story for the brand.

Source Photographer & Models 

This is where the budget comes into play. When choosing models for smaller budget projects, we’ve worked with friends, family or connections of the client who love being in front of the camera. If the budget is a little higher, we’ll work with a photographer or agency to hire professionals. We strive for diversity and look for subjects that will resonate with our audience and help tell our brand story. To give the shoot its best shot at chemistry on camera, we set up a meet and greet prior to the shoot to get the models better acquainted and comfortable around each other so the photos come across effortless and uncontrived. When choosing the photographer, it’s important to reference their portfolio to make sure their past work is similar to what we’re trying to achieve. Here we’ll cross reference our mood boards to make sure their editing and style matches our inspiration. A photographer with experience shooting both restaurant glamour images and capturing lifestyle is the ideal combo.

Create Mood Boards & Wardrobe

Next, we’ll gather inspiration images for posing and scenes we’d like to mimic that fit the brand aesthetic and honor the shot list. Having these on hand are helpful for the photographer and models. It lets them know what you’re trying to achieve and acts as a great reference guide if the team gets stumped on the posing or on a scene. We search the web or Pinterest and then collage them into a pdf document depicting inspiration for the wardrobe, color scheme, overall vibe, lighting and posing. We then send wardrobe notes to either the stylist or models ahead of time with detailed instructions on what we’re looking for to review prior to. The wrong outfit or styling can have the potential to ruin a shoot so it’s worth it to get all the small details dialed in.

We Live & Die by the Schedule

With so many moving parts, the day goes by in flash and you don’t want to wrap it up having left shots untouched. We detail our scenes and timeline down to every 10 minutes. This allows for the day to move smoothly and keeps the crew on schedule. Having a strict timeline allows us to accomplish our full shot list with some extra time to adlib new ideas that may sprout day of and capture natural chemistry happening within the scene. We account for set up time between locations, meal breaks, and outfit changes. Once we hire a photographer and models, we’ll create call sheets with arrival times, shooting times and which scenes will happen when. We include sunrise and sunset times and update the weather forecast about 3 days out. That way we know if we’ll need to plan more time or reschedule for inclement weather because what good is an oceanfront dining shot in a rain?


All hands on deck! Before each scene, we provide direction to the photographer and models via the storyboards. Throughout the shots, we help pose or position the models and make changes as needed. Our producer and team are onsite and ready to provide support or spring into action if needed. We come prepped with snacks and are all experts in holding the light reflector. As we’re shooting, we’ll review images with the photographer before we move on to the next scene. This lets us know if we need more time for reshoots or if we nailed it. Don’t be afraid to speak up during this stage to make sure you capture exactly the content that you’re after.

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