Just as you see in fashion photography that there are hair stylists, make-up artists, etc; there are also dedicated food stylists for food presentation for your food photography. If you see food photograph in any well known food magazines such as Cuisine, Gourmet Traveller, etc; there is a 99% chance that a food stylist has made it more representable, eye-catching and mouth watering.
These food stylists use various techniques to make their food look as attractive as possible. For these a lot of brain storming is done as to what to choose, how to prepare for it, how to compose the plated food etc. Did you know that sometimes they use artificial elements to enhance the look of the food? If not, continue reading this article to find out “8 Mindblowing Facts About Food Photography And Styling You Probably Didn’t Know About”.
1. Use Of Fake Steam And Smoke
To show the viewers that the food is hot or for creative and artistic purpose there are times that it is hard because the food is usually not that hot that it is steamy enough to capture it. In fact, instead of the natural steam food stylists use air nebulizers or a combination of chemicals that give off smoke that gives the appearance of steam. This is because it takes time to capture a perfect steamy food photograph and you can’t keep warming up the dish again and again as it will probably burn the food.
2. Food Is Not Always Fresh
As mentioned earlier, it takes time to capture a perfect food photograph. There are times the food sits out for a longer period of time that it is not that fresh to eat. So, food stylists keep spraying food with water or mixtures of water, corn syrup, or other liquids to keep food looking fresh.
3. Use Of Fake Frosting
It can be hard to capture an ice cream for a long time without melting and you do not want that as it can get very messy and usually nobody likes a melted ice cream or a frosting on a cake. That is why, to simulate an ice cream and photograph it, food stylist use or make a mixture of solid shortening, corn syrup, and powdered sugar (essentially a very stiff frosting) that can be scooped. It is the same with the frosting of a cake or any other type of food that involves frosting.
4. Use Of Artificial Chemicals And Agents
There are a lot of times a food stylists use artificial chamicals and agents to add color, texture, etc. For instance, if you take a look at cooked meat food photography there is a chance that browning agents were used to enhance the color/brownness of cooked meats. They use it also for other poultry foods too.
5. Use Of Heavy Cream Instead Of Milk
There are often times food stylists use heavy cream instead of milk to enhance the look, add texture, etc. for food photography. For instance, while photographing cereal food stylists use heavy cream instead of milk. It prevent flakes from becoming soggy too quickly in bowls of cereal. This is also because I will mention it again that it takes time to get a perfect food photograph that you and your client/employer desire.
6. Sometimes Food Is Undercooked
There are times that a food stylist will ask the chef to undercook the meal in order to preserve colors and make it look more interesting. For instance, when a food photographer photographs green vegetables, the food stylists blanch it to bring up the bright green color and most of the time, they don’t cook it completely. All this is done to retain the color and prevent wrinkles. Think it like this, if you cook a spinach for a long time it will turn very dark green and usually it is not very eye catching for the viewers. That is why sometimes the food is undercooked to take pleasent food photograph.
7. The Food Is Usually Inedible
After adding many artificial chemicals and agents and sometimes the food being undercooked, the food that is photographed is usually inedible. You cannot eat something that has been sitting out for too long and on top of that it contains a lot of chemicals and agents which can be harmful to your health. This is only done for representing the food and that’s it. It is probably because the main goal of food photography is to represent the food in the best way possible.
8. Use Of Fake Chocolates And Other Products
As I have mentioned it several times in this article, that it takes time to take a perfect food photograph and you cannot keep a chocolate out for a long time as it will probably melt. Just like using fake frosting for ice creams, often food stylists asks food photographer to use a fake chocolate (probably a prop made of wood). This is probably the most common trick you will see as it is not only used in food photography but also used in films for example: Charlie and the chocolate factory.
Food stylists also use other artificial products to enhance the overall food photograph and to add depth and texture.
It is not necessary to hire a professional food stylist especially if it doesn’t fit your budget or you are a beginner photographer. At the end of the day, it is your photography skills that makes a boring image look a good quality professional looking and eye catching image. You can do most of the tricks by yourself such as asking the chef to undercook the green vegetables. The only thing you need to remember if you want to become a sucessful food photographer or photographer in general is to not rely on expensive things such as food stylists and high end equipments. First perfect your basics and than keep learning new things. The only thing you should rely on is your photography skills which also includes proper lighting.
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