The Dirty Tricks of Food Photographers
Motor oil as sauce, mashed potatoes as ice cream and glue instead of milk: The food you drool over in a restaurant might be pretty, but often it won’t actually be edible.
We’re having a bit of a food photography fest here on Photocritic today, what with it being International Food Photography Day. We’ve already put forth our best tips for capturing delicious food, but if you need a bit more help when it comes to styling, these are some of the dark, devious, and dirty tricks that you can use. You’ll never look at the photos in food magazine the same way again.
We’ve all seen the seductive photos of vividly colorful fresh vegetables, sumptuous cherry pies, and golden-brown roasted turkeys. These pictures, often found in glossy cookbooks and magazines, make us believe that if we follow the recipe we, too, can create such delectable dishes. And many of us can. Well, almost.
A peek behind the kitchen door would reveal the sometimes bizarre tools of the food photography trade that transform fresh baked brownies and juicy crown roasts into science fair projects masquerading as culinary delights. Food is among the more difficult of subjects for photographers. The laws of nature guarantee it: Hot foods cool, moist foods dry out, frozen foods melt especially fast under hot lights, vegetables wilt, and fruit turns brown. But determined food photographers rise to these challenges with their extraordinarily inventive bag of tricks.
And yes, that includes motor oil, spray deodorant and and brown shoe polish…
There are a couple schools of thought regarding food photography: Purists only use real food, and others of a more, um, practical bent resort to using imitation food at every opportunity. If a photo is destined to become part of an ad campaign, rules require the subject food product to be the “real thing.” However, imitation strawberries in a slightly out-of-focus background and acrylic ice cubes in faux lemonade are acceptable (to take-the-easy-way-out non-purists, that is).
In addition to the requisite photography equipment, food photogs need supplies from hardware, grocery, fabric, drug, and art supply stores to accomplish…