This year we had to do some photography for our new website design. Now here's a thing about professional designers and agencies: they like to shoot product photos in a studio. Where they can control everything. And they like to use models for people shots, because they can get exactly the look and mood they want. And when you want a landscape shot, then you get it from stock photography, because it's way too risky to go outside where it might be raining when you want sun, or sunny when you need rain.
Well, we listened to all that and then we said: "No. We're going to do this in Ireland. With real people. Doing real things. And if it rains, it rains."
Because, you know, we're one of the very few small companies that actually makes their own products. By hand. And if we can't show you that, what's the point? And we're in Ireland, in the Burren, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Our whole thing is about the Burren! If we photograph our products in some generic studio, our website will just look like everyone else's!
"It's risky", they said.
"We can't rely on the weather", they said.
"We'll take that chance", we said. "Let's do it."
"Well, we're definitely going to need a model with good skin. And freckles." , said they.
"You know what?", we said. "We might just have one of those lying around..."
And that was how our daughter Fionn became the face of the Burren Perfumery. And how we ended up spending a very hectic week setting up product shots, pouring balms, labelling creams, wrapping soaps, tripping over cables and lights, wrangling hair and make-up, and collapsing into bed each evening shattered!
It's a full on thing, a photo shoot. We had a great photographer, Michael Koenigshofer who worked tirelessly throughout the week, and our brilliant designer Doris from Moodley Brand Identity in Austria was our art director for the week. Our cast was drawn from our amazing staff, including Rose, Tanya, Zoe, Cate, Gracie, and Clidhna.
A lot of photos were taken. We rented a house nearby to give ourselves space to work. The shoot was in July and, as any of you know who've been here in July, we have a lot of customers at that time of the year and we decided it wasn't practical to work onsite with people tripping over studio lights and our staff trying to serve customers and make products while also looking stunning for the camera.
One of the key elements that makes great photography great is what you take away, not what you put in. If you start really looking at what images are visually striking, you'll notice that there's usually just one thing going on. There's no clutter in the background. There are no visual elements that aren't part of the story being told. So a lot of time is spent on a shoot arranging the people and the products so that they're the focus, and then taking away everything else that is a distraction.
There was a lot of ferrying of products and people back and forth. We made creams and balms and lip balms in the kitchen and then poured and packaged them in front of the camera. We wrapped soap. Again. And again. And... again. Aprons were ironed and straightened. Flowers were arranged. Nails were manicured on set. It is amazing how much detail has to be attended to to make things look perfect.
In hindsight, it was a lot of fun. And we achieved exactly what we aimed for: a story of real products being made by real people in a real place. We're delighted with the look of our new website, and we hope it does a better job of conveying a sense of who and where we are.