A few months ago I got in touch with Elisa Merlo, photography editor at Deliveroo, the company that brings the world’s local restaurants into everyone’s home or office. Based in London, she is in charge of all photography requirements, including Deliveroo’s global campaigns. I thought that bringing Elisa into these converstions would give us a commercial insight.
In the latest interviews we focused on magazines and images usage, today we have some interesting thoughts from a photo editor who works for the food delivery industry.
At the first glance, Elisa Merlo seemed very traditional about photography. However when we talked in depth about shooting photos, she surprised me through her unique way of producing shoots for Deliveroo.
Hope you will enjoy our photography talk and will stay with us for the next interviews.
Hi Elisa, first of all thanks a lot for joining us. Could you please give us some background about yourself and experience to our readers?
Hi Maura, sure. I settled in London years ago when I came to study photography at the London College of Printing, now London College of Communication. At the beginning I wanted to be a photographer. I started to study photography when I was 13 years-old and it has always been my big passion. But I soon realized that being a photographer was not right for me, university taught me I could be working in photography but not necessarily by being a photographer.
How did you start working within the photography industry?
My first job after university was at Red Papper Magazine where I gained invaluable experience by carrying out image searches on many well-known photo archives, like Magnum for example. After that I landed a job at the Financial Times and took a Master in Business for the Creative Arts. Working for publications had been incredibly interesting, but I wanted to experience a different point of view and went working for an interior photogrpaher, set up his archive and run his studio. During the 5 years I spent there I covered all possible tasks: from studio to locations shoots, production, photo editing editing, syndication and archiving.
Again looking for a new perspective I started collaborating with a French photo agency where I worked as their Syndication agent in the United Kingdom and Germany. My last role in the publishing industry before Deliveroo was at Wallpaper* City Guides, where for over 3 years I had the pleasure of working globally, producing shoots in all the different destinations. The sheer volume and quality of this role taught me discipline and speed: we could have 12 days of shooting to cover 60 location. What a fantastic experience!
And how did you start with Deliveroo?
Deliveroo was a different challenge and one I had been looking for. I see images of food everyday, on magazines and social media…I generally find them a bit “lazy”. If you check #foodporn on Instagram you will find millions of photos of food, nowadays everyone thinks they can shoot food. So when the opportunity came up at Deliveroo I jumped on it. It was great when we were given the task of playing with different concepts of food photography.
Do you use stock photos or assign projects?
We commission all photography and produce directly in-house. I am in charge of photography for the global campaigns, but my team also produces all the images published in app and on social media. I find my work very interesting. I don’t like classifying photographers and enjoy assigning projects not to just food photographers. For example, in the past we’ve worked with a sport photographer: the outcome was fantastic! We always try to do things a little differently at Deliveroo.
How do you select photographers to work with?
I have been working in the field for over 20 years and I have a big contact book. I also keep up with photography by following competitions, galleries and reading trade magazines. When I see something new and interesting, I find a way to reshape the concept and put it into my daily work.
Can you tell me an important aspect that you seek in your photographers?
I would say technical skills and a sensitivity for light. Photography is drawing with light. If you don’t understand the light, nothing good can come out of a picture. Light and composition are very important.
Any thoughts about photography evolution?
I like that people now express themselves with an instantaneous visual language and photography has become more democratized. As long as you have a camera on your phone you can comment on your everday life by drawing with light.
Thanks again Elisa for your time and for your precious thoughts!
You’re welcome…but I got a question too about Picwant agency.
Yes, of course..
If anyone can become a Picker that means I could become a Picker too, right?
Thanks for the question as fas as we talk about good photography anyone can become a Picker and we work hard to democratize photography and show new talents.