While your kids or the kids of your friends might think of Social Media as a way to keep up on what’s cool, there’s no doubt that this once purely “social” engine has becoming a major player (if not the most important) one in marketing and connecting with consumers. It gives greater diversity of choices to the consumer and gives immediate exposure to providers of goods and services on a global scale never before seen. In many ways it has given the small business owner the ability to compete with long established entities. The most important traits for success in social media marketing are ingenuity and talent. Topher Allen, CEO of Vineflow had a unique concept and he approached photographer Yuya Parker to aid him in its application and realization. Allen’s company Vineflow is a social media company exclusively for wineries. They create fresh and engaging online content which allows Vineflow clients to stand out from others due to their handpicked content. Allen’s vision allowed his clients to obtain an almost instantaneous online presence which was custom tailored; all of this provided with great skill courtesy of Parker’s talent. Yuya’s work with recognized national names like Tradewinds and El Pollo Loco caught the CEO’s attention and led him to quickly enlist the photographer into establishing the Vineflow brand.
As a small business owner himself, Topher understood exactly what his customers would be looking for; a very professional product created by highly skilled individuals and made available at a very reasonable price. These were qualities he noticed in Parker. Yuya’s strong background and reputation as a studio photographer was a given but it was the use of color and playful ideas in his photography along with the exceptional use of color and lighting that truly caught his eye. Perhaps most importantly, it was the photographer’s artistic eye coupled with a businessman’s sensibilities that sealed the deal. Allen relates, “Yuya's work is top notch. He is able to quickly understand a client's wishes and then effectively expand upon that through his unique creative talents. The results consistently exceed expectations both in terms of quality and overall satisfaction; an invaluable combination as a client! Working with Yuya is always a pleasure. His professionalism and communication is matched only by his talent. As a small business owner, aligning yourself with reliable and skilled people such as Yuya quickly creates an invaluable resource.”
Vineflow works by offering templates for their client to choose from and then personalizes them for each specific winery. Yuya always confers with the client to understand what they want to communicate in their brand. Photographs can exhibit lifestyle, product focused images, or perhaps even documentary. Clients are often looking for something unique and the Vineflow process easily allows for this. Parker notes that he often goes through a process of sketching, revisions, and eventually the photoshoot. What makes Vineflow different from other social media providers is that they are specifically designed for wineries, which takes much of the risk out of choosing a photographer. Due to the company’s targeting for a specific market, they are able to provide specialized photography based on the type of wine and the target audience of a particular brand. A keystone in the process is the work of Parker. His extensive experience working with high-end brands gives him the ability to create a look of “premium quality” that Vineflow’s client wish to communicate for themselves and their products.
The themes created by Vineflow’s templates require the photographs to tell a story in one frame. Parker becomes the director in his role, scrutinizing every small detail as even the most mundane of props can communicate the action of what has or will be taking place. This aspect makes the work both interesting and challenging for Parker who notes, “Most of the time, the overall themes are photographs such as wine with ingredients, or wine on a hot summer day but they can be more specific such as wine after a long day at work or wine of the month. I create sketches based on the ideas they provide. I try to create as many sketches as possible at first; then Vineflow provides feedback and we select the best sketches and expand upon the ideas. At this stage, we have more specific stories for photographs. I create final sketches and list things I will need for the shoot such as additional props or locations. Vineflow often requests the use of specific props as well. Sometimes these tell a story and sometimes they set a mood. For example, we shot a photograph of an online movie, popcorn, warm blanket, and a bottle of wine. It was meant to show how people could relax at home and watch a movie on a cold day. Even though the bottle of wine is the main focus, it fits naturally in the scene.” While he enjoys the detail, Parker concedes that he has to remind himself that creating for social media means the pace must be quick and prohibits obsessing for copious durations of time.
Without direct involvement in the process, one might be deceived that these images were created by a host of professionals agonizing over every granular bit of minutia. Those days are gone, at least in the world of Vineflow. For Topher, it’s about hiring the best photographer you can and letting him work…expeditiously. In turn, for Yuya the work is about finding the best way to meet the desires of the client while still challenging himself to create interesting imagery. To hear him tell it, the skill is in restraint and expression. Yuya states, “I actually really love the work. When the clients get excited that we have made something so specific to their desires and done so very quickly, they are energized…which creates the same feeling for me. The process of working with Vineflow has taught me things. When I’m creating a scene in my camera, there is a point where I feel I could add one more prop, but I don’t really need to add anything. It’s similar to when you’re eating a big meal. At some points, you know you can eat more, but it’s better you don’t. This good balance brings an appealing photograph that makes the viewers want to see more pictures.”