Burger King Is Home to Barbecue with Noel Barnhurst Photography

January 3, 2013

By Barbara Goldman

© Noel Barnhurst

 Burger King's BBQ pulled pork sandwich with fries as part of their new menu themes.

San Francisco-based food and product photographer Noel Barnhurst brings a dash of personality to all of his food imagery. Barnhurst shoots food, beverages, packaging and cookbooks for such clients as NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association), Torani  flavored syrups,  Savory Baking for Chronicle Books, Nordstrom Food Flavors: An Artful Celebration also from Chronicle Books, Williams-Sonoma catalogs and numerous features for 7×7 Magazine and many other publications.  

Barnhurst works out of a renovated three-story building in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood and has a team of food stylists, studio manager, producer, assistants and digital technicians on site.  The studio has two professional kitchens, two naturally-lit shooting bays, private client meeting areas and an extensive prop department.

In the last year, Barnhurst has been shooting new and various themes for Burger King. “In December 2011, I was contacted by Charlie Holtz of Ray Brown and Associates, my agent in New York, for an initial Burger King assignment.  Matt Bresnahan, Sr. Manager of Merchandising for Burger King, had seen my work in a cookbook and wanted me to shoot a small project,” explains Barnhurst. With the help of ad agency Wunderman Chicago and Executive Creative Director Jim Eby, the small project went so well that it turned into a multi-year campaign giving Barnhurst the majority of Burger King’s photo work for at least one week of every month in 2012.

His most recent completed campaign for Burger King is for barbecue at home and the concept of their creative burgers, fries and sundaes as the way to go to bring family and friends together. For the summer barbecue, Barnhurst shot in San Francisco and had to produce 40 shots in eight days that required a team of 17 people, plus another eight from the client and agency. The shoot had to be done outdoors and had to have the look of a bright, sunny day, which turned out to be especially challenging since they had to shoot in the middle of a rainstorm.  

In addition to the bad weather, the kitchen was some distance from the set, which required extra construction of tents over pathways, the set and equipment.  The barbecue menu items on the shoot list included a Memphis Pulled Pork sandwich,  TX BBQ Whopper, TX BBQ Chicken sandwich, Carolina BBQ Whopper, Carolina BBQ Chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries and an ice cream sundae topped off with a thick-cut slab of hardwood-smoked bacon.   

 BBQ Whoppers and  BBQ chicken sandwiches and fries from Burger King.

 © Noel Barnhurst/The Burger King bacon sundae.

Barnhurst shot with a Phase One IQ 180 camera, Canon 5D and K5600 Joker 800s. To get that bright sunny summer look, he had to enhance the daylight he did have with one to three lights from K5600.  K5600 is one of the premier manufacturers of HMI daylight balanced location lighting kits for motion pictures, television and still photography. The basic K5600 Joker-Bug 800’s full f/stop of increased output with some of the most flexible optical configuration for location lighting has become tremendously popular for location shooting and proved quite indispensable on the Burger King barbecue campaign. “Since this shoot, K5600 has come out with a more powerful adjustable light, a Joker 1600, which I am finding even more useful,” adds Barnhurst.

Bad weather, limited availability of the location and people’s travel schedules only added to the high pressure and could have easily caused major problems for the production.  Fortunately, Barnhurst has an experienced team of assistants, food and prop stylists, producers and digital technicians who have worked together on many assignments. Their efficiency, smooth and easy working style with tight shooting schedules and physical challenges have endeared them to clients for a productive as well as enjoyable photo experience.
The Burger King barbecue campaign  is being used for in-store promotion, menu boards, window posters, drive-through and online advertising and for television in all U.S. market locations. With his latest barbecue success, Barnhurst and his team are now scheduled to start on the next movable feast for Burger King on January 2, 2013 with a new and different theme still under raps.

Stay tuned and in the mean time, see more of Noel Barnhurst’s tempting array of food, beverage, cookbook and packaging work at his site,