I completely disagree with the article written by my good colleague and country man, Olaf van Gerwen. I speak here as Ronald Koetzier, tabletop director/DOP. Having a few years of experience, I see shooting tabletop as a craft, but a craft closely related to client’s needs.
I want to make things as good, nice, appetizing, stylish, funny and functional as possible – all that to serve the brand’s idea. Tell their story. By making stunning macro food shots. And that’s already a very difficult job!
But it’s like being a shoemaker. It needs to fit well for the needs of the client. Still you need to make it super nice, but it needs to fit the client’s needs. Yes, maybe a pink shoe with bells and whistles make me look much better as a shoemaker and I may even win some awards, but clients will be unhappy after a while. The shoe doesn’t fit. Pink was not their brand colour and the bells are very loud. Not what they were looking for.
Tabletop is a difficult craft. But also super satisfying and rewarding if things turn out well. Directors bring lots of ideas to the table, but we are not artists who are making our own art. Then you are in the wrong business.
Don’t try to let your own art be sponsored by big companies. You will be very frustrated, and they will not be happy.
It might work with a small boutique company. They win awards. Agencies know that. Small companies kick ass and win awards. The big brands work with rulebooks. They are too big to fail. That’s why most of the commercials start with branding in the beginning, have consumption shots etc, etc. They all read the same marketing book. There is also one more thing. It does work and sells….
You can as well ask yourself, why is there always that same pizza pull shot? It’s not about uniting tabletop directors to stand up and think about something else. It doesn’t work like that.
Nowadays every minute in the sales process can be measured. Sales are down when there is no pizza pull in the commercial. It’s a fact.
Same with a drinking shot at the end of a soda commercial. It just works very well in the human brain. World wide, in every culture. Every brain works like that. So that’s why you see a lot of pretty identical shots. The companies don’t want to change this winning team. Don’t understand me wrong. I will always push for better shots.
I love this business as a craftsman. Making super fantastic and beautiful things. There are many examples of them in my reel. But I also make things that clients need. And yes they are sometimes the same as last time, or already similar to what other people have done. Simply because it works in people’s brains and sells very well.
All the time I hear and read a lot of articles about people saying we need to rethink ourselves or shoot something never seen before! In the next sentence these same people ask for showing video references of that (the things never seen before…).
I always try to give alternative options, but it’s the client who makes the final decision. I can live with that. I’m not frustrated like some other people. Life is too short for that.
It’s a commercial business, not a freestyle art movement where you can experiment. Lots of jobs depend on it. It’s not our own art we are making. I make art in my own time. In that case I’m the boss. It’s that simple.
And yes there is always one commercial in 10 years that proves the opposite. Good luck making that one.
With respect to everybody in the business.