WD-4 0 and microwaved tampons: secrets of food photography exposed15 days ago
Its the job of a food stylist to induce products look delicious on camera even if the makeover leaves the dinner inedible. Six stylists tell us their tricks
Behind most professional food photos is a stylist who tricks the spectator. These deceits range from a touch of lipstick to redden a strawberry, to milkshakes made from mashed potatoes. Its not that food stylists are liars and defrauds. Theyre simply in the business of improvisation.
Throughout the 10 hours it takes, on average, to complete a photo shoot, stylists are expected to solve any dedicated crisis on the spot. No tzatziki on set? Make do with the mayonnaise or whipped cream in the refrigerator. A client wants that turkey skin to seem a bit more red? Better have food coloring on hand.
When shooting, you cant stop and say: Hey, ugh, I forgot this, explains Denise Stillman, an Orange County-based food stylist whos been in the business for 26 years. You only have to make sure you[ bring enough materials on set to] covering all your basis and then[ ask yourself ], What else can go wrong?
But not everything is faked. The product the advertiser is trying to sell is often featured, explains Stillman. When, for example, she shoots an ad for Breyers, she shoots the real ice cream. But if shes styling Gay Lea Foods whipped cream, the ice cream it rests atop can be made of anything so long as it seems delicious.
Whether shooting a television commercial or print advertisement, a food stylists goal is often to emphasize food ingredients natural beauty.
Im like hair and makeup for food, says Charlotte Omnes, a stylist are stationed in New York. When you watch models walk down the runway, they dont look like that. But after they come out of makeup, youre like, Wow.
If you want your Instagram food photos to resemble Bon Appetit coverings, weve collected some pro tips-off that will help. Six food stylists served us their secrets on how to attain common dishes look ready for their close-ups.
Enchiladas: mashed potatoes give the appearance of bulk
Mexican food is not the most photogenic. No one knows this better than Kim Krejca, a Phoenix-based stylist who works with a lot of south-western cuisine. Enchiladas with sauce hemorrhaging into the beans[ are] not very visually pleasant, she says. You have to modify that but still be true to the food.
To give the enchiladas the appearance of bulkiness( as considered above ), she stuffed them with instant mashed potatoes, a stylists go-to filling because they are easy to make and mold. Then Krejca added meat and veggies to the ends where the tortillas open up. To finish the dish, she used a hot handgun to build the cheese melts perfectly on top.
Tacos: cosmetic sponges keep the shells open
In real life, tacos are a delicious mess. To stimulate them presentable on camera, Krejca glued two tortillas together and placed cosmetic sponges behind the meat to keep the shells open. For dark and juicy-looking beef, she painted the pieces with a brown sauce called Kitchen Bouquet, made of water and food coloring. Krejca then sprayed the fill with WD-4 0, her secret weapon to attain Mexican food glisten. Stillman uses red pepper in place of diced tomatoes for a more vibrant coloring and pours corn syrup on beans so they look moist and fresh.
Cereal: mens hair products and sunscreen make a perfect milk
This may ruin your craving, but the milk used in cereal photos is usually fake. Since the real stuff quickly constructs cornflakes seem soggy, food stylists have come up with alternatives. In this photo, Wisconsin-based Tamara Kaufman used Wildroot, a white hair cream for men with a sunscreen lotion-like consistency that many stylists covet. Krejca favor the old-school method of white glue, which photographs just like the real deal. When pros do use actual milk, its merely a very small amount. According to Michelle Rabin, a Toronto-based food stylist, you can place the most beautiful pieces of cereal in a bowl filled with vegetable shorten and cover it with a thin layer of milk. The abbreviating defies the liquid and it looks like the whole bowl is filled with knolls of cereal, she says. The pieces will stay fairly crisp for a long time.
Coffee: watered down soy sauce and gelatin give a smooth look
Black coffee is hard to work with because of its oily sheen. In a latte or cappuccino, the foam will speedily evaporate. In this photo, Omnes used a combination of Kitchen Bouquet, water and gelatin to give the coffee a smooth seem. In a pinch, Rabin has used watered-down soy sauce and once had to improvise with cream and gravy browner on the situated of a popular Canadian brand. I see that billboard I worked on and Im like: Thats funny, because thats not a coffee, she says. Kaufman uses the real deal when possible, but adds fells of soapy water around the perimeter with an eyedropper to simulate fresh brew. The froth, stylists say, is often made from piped soap foam.
Turkey: it may be raw and bloody inside, but the skin looks good
Every home chef knows its hard to make a bird crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Fortunately, food stylists only have to focus on aesthetics, which means they never fully cook one. It is important not to overcook them so the skin stays looking moist, plump and juicy, says Omnes. These are visual cues that build your mouth water when you look at it. New-York based stylist Brian Preston-Campbell says he often roasts five or six turkeys for a few hours each to get that perfect hero bird. Its still raw and kind of bloody inside, he says. Its kind of nasty but its about the end product in the photo.
In this shot, Omnes pinned down the turkey skin so it wouldnt tear in the oven. She lined the pan and stuffed the bird with a water-soaked paper towel so it would steam instead of turning crispy. To achieve that brown, glistening seem, she brushed the turkey with a mix of water, Kitchen Bouquet and dish soap.
Ice cream or whipped cream: abbreviate, corn syrup and frosting
If ice cream were a human model, she would be a diva. The dessert is hard to mold, and if youre not styling in a refrigerated space, melts promptly. To avoid the headache, experts often turn to other ingredients. To create the ice cream on the left, Omnes mixed frosting with icing sugar( the cone on the right is the real bargain ), but the most common fake ice cream recipe is a combination of vegetable shortening, powdered sugar and corn syrup.
For other milky desserts, stylists have many hacks. For a dollop of whipped cream, Omnes use a non-dairy creamer that does not wilt or weep. Kaufman favor Barbasol shaving cream but notes: The woman who mistakenly tried a bite was not pleased. For milkshakes, Stillman employs sour cream because its thick and easy to swirl.
Drinks: that frosty glass? Its spray-on deodorant
Stylists dont waste real liquor unless the ad is for alcohol. To induce cocktails, Omnes mixes food coloring in water, a trick Kaufman also uses to create chardonnays from diluted Kitchen Bouquet. In truth, the liquid itself is the sideshow. The most important part about cocktails are the visual cues, says Omnes cues such as ice, fizz, bubbles and froth. They[ make the drink] appear refreshing.
For frozen beverages like margaritas and daiquiris, the pros rely on ice powder, bits of gelatin that look like crushed ice when mixed with liquid. They also use fake plastic or acrylic ice cubes, which dont melt under the hot camera illuminations and vaseline on the rim of margaritas. To create frost, Stillman coats a beer mug with spray-on deodorant and uses a mixture of Scotchguard and glycerin to make soft drink look icy cold with beads of condensation. What a fus it would be otherwise, says Stillman. This style, you can choose the level of wetness on the glass.
Steamy pasta: incense gives the appearance of steam
That moment when steam rises up from pasta like mist over a mountain is hard to capture naturally on camera. Kaufman hides a tin foil package of steam chips inside the pasta bowl and adds water to make vapor. To get the same effect, she has also illuminated incense and later removed the stick with Photoshop, while other tricks involve a attire steamer or cigarette smoke. By far the most interesting method is to microwave water-soaked tampons( cotton balls work as well) and bury them behind a dish. I have them in my kit just in case, says Kaufman. Regardless of the technique, she says steam should always be shot against a dark background.
Read more: www.theguardian.com