Restaurant Open Table and Web Marketing 11-Point Checkup

If you are a restaurant owner, manager, chef, or marketer, you might want to take the time to compare your Open Table page and or website to those of your competitors. If a guest is looking for a restaurant in your area at 7:00PM don’t you want them to grab a reservation at your establishment first? A photo tells a thousand words. And customers make an instant decision and judgement based on a quick glance of what they see in 1-2 seconds. Can you really afford to use the photos that someone took with their smartphone?

Consider this Open Table, web, social media, and print advertising checklist:

  1. Does the establishment show its best side or view with beautiful light in your photos?
  2. Are the photos white balanced so that the food looks appetizing and not too blue or yellow?
  3. Is the food in good light and focused so everyone can tell what it is?
  4. Is the food arranged so that complementary colors are used and an abundance of color shows a story of graciousness and generosity? Customers can tell in a minute if you care. The right photos can set you apart quickly.
  5. Is the staff smiling? Are your customers having a great time in your photos?
  6. Do you have a representation of the diversity of your staff and customers in your photos?
  7. Are there closeup shots of the food that are so enticing people want to click “reserve now” without flipping through your competitor’s sites first?
  8. Is your menu up to date?
  9. Do your photos show your chef’s best and current work?
  10. Is there a cohesive style to the photos?
  11. Is your best foot forward in your photos and story?

It is a worthwhile investment to hire me to shoot for you for a quarter, half, or full day. You can have my food styling, planning and story telling talent, along with all of the pictures I can shoot in your timeframe. I aspire to deliver a lot of great photos for your every use. Download ExpressionFood brochure with story questionnaire and shoot planning list

I am dedicated to planning, developing your best story, and delivering an amazing aesthetic on the images I produce for you. When you win, I win. It’s that simple.

A new marketing director client was considering me (story coming up soon!) and she did pick me out of all of my competitors. Why? Well, for one thing I took the time to listen to her story, view her website, and then come up with a Pinterest board showing her the images I thought would be best to tell her story. Then I took a physical tour of her restaurant, developed the style, story, and props along the way. She was smitten. My vast culinary experience, artistry, and sense of style were engaged to pre-style the shots while we talked and toured every inch of the restaurant. We came up with new ways of seeing and showing the restaurant. New ways of showing the staff preparing the food. And a clean, exciting, modern way of showing the best part of their restaurant. The uses of the images will include Open Table, website, social media, email, brochures and an airport banner. The shoot is now scheduled.

Her comment was that she could not wait to set everything up like that every day including the day of the shoot. It is this vision and talent that I wish to share!

Why would I give away this time before the shoot to consult for the project? Because I want us both to win! To serve the customer with nothing less than the best is always my motto. The devil is always in the details and the preparation and the ultimate goal is to help us all look our very best. The time spent finding the right shot examples, discussing the shots, developing the props, light, style, models, and image samples is well spent. It means that we can set up fast, develop a beautiful shot you can see on my computer, and then fly to create the maximum amount of beautiful shots in a day.

I have spent my life with food and have an amazing vision that makes the food shots look like no other. My vision wants to make everything clean and simple with dramatic light that is sculpted to show the food. When you buy Expression Food services for a quarter, half, or full day you get the style and the photographs. By doing the work before the shoot you get a great deal of pleasure with the photographs that we produce as a team effort. Heaven help your competitors!

Spring: A Fine Art Portfolio

I’ve just completed my latest fine art portfolio.

Would you like to see some of it?

And here’s my artist statement to go with it.

Spring beckons flora to burst forth from the earth. In the context of California farmers’ markets, spring brings new and bright greens, fresh young tubers, and juicy citrus fruits.

My work celebrates this transition from winter to summer. In my photographs of produce I hope to inspire people to choose locally grown fruits and vegetables.

In the farmer’s markets, farmers become entrepreneurs while buyers gain access to fresh and nutritious foods, creating a community.  Accompanying my photos of produce is a tribute to the farmers that grew it.

The offerings of a farmers’ market change each week and month as the seasons ebb and flow. This is but a moment in time during one season’s passage.

A Chocolate Story

I did all this chocolate work for California Organic Pantry, a company that uses all locally-grown organic fruits and nuts along with organic California chocolate.

I decided to tell their story with arrangements that show the ingredients used right beside the chocolate.

As you can see, I’ve made hero style arrangements and used the finest Italian white and gray marble.

The results were spectacular! We used the beautiful organic fruits and nuts to tell the story of how the chocolates are made with the highest quality ingredients. The chocolatier has very high standards for her ingredients and she makes all of her chocolates by hand with a great deal of love and creativity.

We spent the time in advance of the shoot date selecting the right image style. The idea was to use a lot of white along with high quality marble slabs to show off the chocolates, fruits, and nuts. Mulberry and Swiss papers were added along with beautiful porcelain cake plates and stands. A list of whole ingredients was extensive but organized as a collaborative effort between the photo team. Large computers showed everyone the shoot right as it was coming out of the camera.

The photos take us back in time to the era when everything was made by hand using only the finest, local, organic ingredients. We want the viewers to sit down and enjoy every bite and remember the comfortable way they feel when they have a wholesome ingredient in their hand.

All of the pre-shoot planning helped make the shoot day go smooth. The style of the photos was decided in advance so the first shot went off without a hitch. Lists of props, ingredients, and shoot products were followed to the T so nothing was missed. The client got the maximum amount of high quality photos in a one day shoot. Right on time. Right on budget. Right on style!

The Fremont Juried Exhibit

I am so pleased to announce that four of my recent photos have been accepted into the Annual Juried Photo Show put on by the Fremont Cultural Arts Council.

Two of them have even won awards!

The first of my award winners is “9 Oranges of Fresno.” Check it out!

The second is “Figs.” I think these tasty fruits really speak for themselves.

If you’d like to see more, don’t miss the the exhibit, which runs from April 29 through June 3. There’s even going to be a special opening night gala on Saturday, April 29, from 6:30-8:30 pm, with entry through the Fremont Main Library’s Fukaya Room.

Use a Thermometer for the Most Beautiful Meals

How did we get this turkey so crisp and juicy?

With a thermometer!

It’s amazing how beautiful your food can look when you cook it to the proper temperature, and a thermometer is an essential tool for ensuring that nothing gets over- or undercooked.

Now, on to the bigger question: why was I cooking a turkey in April?

I’ve just finished the photos for Konnected Widgets, a company whose mission is to “create affordable connected devices for the masses that solve real world challenges and drive user engagement.”

One of my favorite devices is their thermometer.

I took the photos for this site and created an elegant kitchen theme with an Italian white marble slab. Then I threw in filtered natural light with sculpted shadows and reflected highlights to complete the ambiance.

I want to wish Zin Thein Kyaw and his team much success with their great thermometer — it really is fantastic. To learn more about this great kitchen resource (and see more of my photos), visit