Behind the Scenes with Hissho Sushi

In my experience, the only people who think an advertising photo (or video) shoot is exciting and glamorous are people who have never worked one. The rest of us know they require a crazy amount of planning (which creatives don’t usually excel at!); and then are usually long days full of lots of time spent just waiting, punctuated with moments that require excruciating attention to detail and a focus on keeping your creative vision true, while always balancing all the opinions in the room. There will be highs and lows, drama that needs to be diffused, wardrobe emergencies and always too. much. candy. But yeah, though not necessarily glamorous, shoots are one of the phenomenal parts of doing what we do, because for all the work you put into them, if done right, you get as much back in gorgeous work you’ll be able to use for your next campaign, website redesign, YouTube series . . . or whatever.

Rachel and I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at Black Horse Studio with our client, Hissho Sushi, for a two-day shoot of some new recipes and a few staples that we’ll be helping our client promote throughout the first quarter of next year. This was my first food shoot and, while I watch just enough Food Network to have some idea of what would be involved/pitfalls to avoid, it’s completely different when you’re on set. (One reason I insisted a food stylist be part of the budget!)

What struck me throughout the whole event was the sheer artistry of it all — from the sushi chefs to the photography team.

If you’ve ever watched a sushi chef in action, you know they aren’t just making food, they’re making art. Hissho’s two chefs showed up and were GAME ON! knocking out beautiful rolls and placing them artistically, with appropriate garnishes. What seemed like it might be a quick shot sometimes turned into an hour+ of figuring out where the wasabi should go or whether this exact micro-green leaf was in the exact right place. (Spoiler alert: Tweezers are key.) Then there was the matter of the chopsticks and what looked natural (or not), as well as lighting, lighting and re-lighting for every variation. Oh, and then dab that tuna with some water because it’s starting to look dry! Now, shoot again . . . Our product experts were on point. Our photography experts were on point. Getting it exactly right (and making it look effortless) takes so much more expertise (and time) than anyone knows! And it actually does require all those expert sets of eyes in the room.

Another big take-away is to keep an open mind. Have you ever met a girl who’s a model and thought she was pretty, but not model material? Then you see her photos and are blown away. Backgrounds work the same way. A stucco background we thought would be perfect actually looked terrible when we tried it in person. The marble we weren’t sure about was gorgeous. And our client’s actual faux bamboo shelving didn’t excite us on first glance, but on “film” it looked amazing. You just never know until you try it.

We’re really excited to see the final shots and start incorporating them into our work! And we can’t wait for the next shoot!

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