From farm-fresh charm to mouthwatering masterpieces! Dive into the world of OMS Photo with TJ Vissing. Prepare for a delicious conversation where landscapes bloom, food sings and collaboration creates unforgettable images.

What sparked your interest in photography and how did this passion lead you to specialize in product, drink, and food photography? 

After high school, my future wife gave me a camera. I quickly got comfortable with photography and often found myself looking for opportunities to get out and take pictures. I would generally head out to the horse farms around Lexington, where I grew up, and would shoot landscapes, sunrises, and sunsets. I loved the way photography changed how I looked at everything. As I was trying to wrangle the idea of higher education around in my head, I kept coming back to the idea of how I could make a living doing what I loved to do. That’s a tough question for a young adult. I didn’t know if photography could be a career that would take care of me and perhaps a family one day. I rolled the dice, got a little education in photography and started working as an assistant for commercial photographers in south Florida. I had the privilege of working with a variety of shooters, and quickly fell in love with the control over a photo that you could work with in studio photography. When I moved back near home to Cincinnati, I got lucky and had the chance to work with one of the best food shooters in the country. That is when everything fell in place for me. The magic of collaborating with clients and food stylists was where I knew I wanted to land. I soaked it up like a sponge and dove all the way in. Over the years I was able to become a shooter and built a career shooting food and product photography.

Can you share an example of a product, drink, or food photoshoot that you consider to be your best work? What made it so successful?

I had the opportunity to work on a project for Gillette that I am still excited about to this day. The product was a new cutting-edge design and we were able to explore lighting and angle to find the best result. The client had a basic idea of “look and feel” but as we shot, we let the results take us down the rabbit hole to some amazing looks. Lighting a product like this is some of the more challenging things to shoot. Reflective surfaces and “finding the edge” of the product with highlights that give the product a sleek and cool look. After the photo was captured, our digital team took over and concepted a variety of effects that worked towards taking the image to another level. The level of quality and creativity that our team brought to this project blew my mind. 

How do you balance your creative vision with the specific needs of your clients in the CPG industry?

I know my place. I consider myself to be, the bottom of the funnel. The projects come into the studio very much buttoned down. The brand has a look, and a history. New images have to live in a world that has already been created and can leverage the brand's identity into the new image's existence. I see the process as having to fall into a funnel. The brand, and it’s leaders bring the desired agenda, the creative team, designers and art directors, bring the direction, the food and prop stylists bring the components, and I let all of that settle into a set that needs light, shadow, and perspective to bring it home. 

How do you approach lighting and composition to create visually appealing and mouth watering images of food and beverages?

Simplicity and hard light are usually where I like to start if I get to choose. Again, there are often established visuals that lead down a path of continuity for a brand. I love to shoot with harder light sources when possible. The highlights and shadows on a photo, especially of food, are where I like to find the sparkle that brings forth the appetite appeal. Composition is more often scripted. Many projects have a very specific layout that a product or food shot will fit.

What role does post-production play in your workflow? How do you use editing software to enhance the quality and impact of your images?

A great deal. Nothing goes untouched. We have a team of retouchers that have been working with Photoshop since its inception. They come from photography, illustration, and design backgrounds. They understand not only the aesthetics of a good image, but also the technical details to make sure an image is built to print. Often they will spend as much time or more on an image and be able to get detailed feedback from clients on site or remotely. I cannot express the benefit of working with such a great team side by side at the shoot. They often collaborate on set during the shoot to make sure we capture the details necessary to finish the shot beyond expectations.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest photography techniques and equipment to ensure you are providing your clients with the most innovative and impactful imagery?

I am the owner of a studio that has many shooters, videographers, retouchers, and tech experts. The inspiration I get from that alone keeps me in the loop. A week doesn’t go by where someone walks through the door with some kind of new inspiration. As we walk down this road into the new AI reality, I feel like we are already comfortable surfing the waves that come. We feel like we have been working with AI for years because of the approach we have taken with retouching all these years. We jump right in and go with the flow. 

What is your favourite part of working in the CPG industry? What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

My favorite part is the collaboration. I truly feel like we have a studio that feels like a home. Our clients come in and can lay the ideas out on the table and they know we are here to serve them. I am not trying to take over a vision for their project, I am here to co-create a successful outcome that moves their brand further down the road they have outlined for their success.

We are, first and foremost, a service. When our clients thrive, we thrive.

How do you collaborate with clients to ensure their vision for a product, drink, or food photoshoot is fully realised?

It all starts with the production process. Understand what the vision is before we start. With most of our clients we have long standing relationships. It’s like talking to old friends. We know the lay of the land, we know where they want to end up. Newer clients need to be fully understood and heard, and comfortable that we are hearing them. Lots of conversations about timing, budget, process, and a comprehensive vision. For new clients our body of work goes a long way to demonstrate how we see and do things. We often create a “treatment” for a new client that will drill down to the core objective and show work that helps them see how we see it.

What is your ideal project to work on at OMS Photography? What aspects of this project would be most appealing to you?

We have a project that we work on a couple of times a year that involves shooting for a client that sells liquor. We have 2 shooters and sometimes a videographer work on that week long shoot, but the process of producing the shoot, and the creative people I get to work with from the start are so exciting to be around. The set styling, food styling, retouching, client relationship, and collaboration we share is such an uplifting experience. In this particular case, the client works so hard with us getting ready for the shoot, we feel like we are set up for success. They are also some of the nicest, creative, and collaborative clients we get to work with. It is such a big production for that week long shoot, it takes so much thought and co-creation, by the end of the week it feels like you have summited Mt Everest. I am proud to be a part of a team that pulls off such a great body of work.

How do you see your experience and skills contributing to OMS Photography’s continued success in the CPG industry?

Experience is everything. Not just mine, but the whole team. We have such a professional and experienced team, we have been through a lot. Being service oriented is also very much an attitude that helps us understand our role and take care of the client above all else.


What role do you see technology playing in the future of product, drink, and food photography? How do you stay ahead of the curve in this ever-evolving industry?

It has always played a big role for us, we have always tried to stay on the cutting edge. We are willing to dive into just about anything if we can afford it. Technology lately has gotten us further into the world of videography for instance. We have and play with a robot arm that allows for motion control that helps us stand out in a relatively new field for us. Of course we surround ourselves with creative and smart people who we travel down these roads together. I would never dream of trying to do this alone. I see food photography and product photography taking different paths here in some ways. Food can so easily exist in it;s natural organic realities. We expect to see it in an approachable and appetizing environment, while products live in otherworldly sets and still feel at home. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but I feel like they have general homes they can live in. 

How do you maintain a high level of creativity while working on multiple projects simultaneously?

I try to work with a mindset of “be here now”. I have such a great team surrounding me, I can focus on the task at hand. Like most things in life, if you are present with the project you are working on and try not to get too far ahead of yourself, good things tend to happen. Again, I feel like the collaboration during our shoots is such a big part of success, if you are focused on the shot in front of you, keep your ears and eyes open for direction and reactions, you will land in the right spot. This is very hard to do without a great team.

What is your approach to project management and organisation to ensure efficient workflows and meet deadlines? 

It is the “team” approach. We have such a deep team of people that take things very seriously. It is hard to drop the ball. We start with marketing. We have some dedicated to just that. It takes the pressure off the rest of us, knowing we don’t need to swim in waters we are not suited for. We follow that up with a production team that has seen it all. They know how to talk through the projects, get the details and put numbers together that makes sense. They know how to arrange timing for the studio as a whole, so shoots have time to get prepared and wind down. They know how to set expectations so clients feel like they will be well cared for. We work with the best stylist, who we trust to work towards our common goal. We have photo assistants that are inhouse and are well connected to the job before it starts. We use a database to track jobs from concept through delivery, and we have some really smart people that can build specific databases to suit long term clients with big projects that become how the clients track those jobs as well. We have a digital retouching team with a digital production manager that outlines and  follows the workflow through that department, and finally, we have someone who does the billing and bookkeeping that allows us to get paid in a timely manner as well as take care of our freelancers and suppliers. It takes every bit of these things to keep this place humming.

What makes you a unique and valuable asset to the team at OMS Photography?

Everyone at the studio is unique and valuable. I happen to bring my specific experience and connections with the clients I have worked with over the past 30 years. I also realize things are fluid. I am not the only one who can do the work. We are so deep with talent, I might influence them from time to time, but I am not immune to the influence and inspiration of my work family.

Our chat with TJ Vissing from OMS Photo wasn't just a glimpse, it was a taste. From the photographer's humble beginnings to the studio's collaborative symphony, we saw passion poured into pixels. Stylists, clients, and tech all played their parts, but service and storytelling were the heart of the dish. We leave, inspired and hungry for more than just visuals, but for the stories they tell.