Food Photography | The Art of Making (Fake?) Food Look Great!

Katherine, 07 March 2007,
Categories: Fun Stuff
Tags: , , , ,

Have you ever glanced at a food advertisement and stopped short, completely mesmerized by the depiction of such a savory, juicy meal?  Now let me ask you.  Did you visit the advertised restaurant and find yourself disappointed at the almost complete difference between the picture and the real food?
 
What you may not realize is the food depicted in the picture was probably fake, glued or frozen!  For the one moment you glanced at the picture, a talented photographer probably spent hours to days setting up the tantalizing treat. 

 
The next time you follow a truck advertising a deliciously depicted bowl of ice cream, take a closer look.  Do you see any dribbles?  Of course not!  Because you are probably looking at a picture of dyed mashed potatoes.  And what about the picture showing off a huge slice of juicy steak?  That steak might be coated with a glaze of water and glycerin.  As a matter of fact, glycerin, water and paintbrushes are the key to making fruit, vegetables and meats appear juicy.  Glycerin and water is also sprayed on items that appear frosty and cool.
 
Indeed, taking pictures of food is a difficult task, with only an hour or two in between fresh and funky.  For years photographers have been mastering the art of food photography.  The next time you look at a picture of hot and steaming food, remember that steam only lasts a short while.  You are probably looking at dry ice or smoke pellets rather than steam.  And is that turkey in the picture golden brown?  Try shoe polish and a blow torch.
 
Food items such as ice are often fake since the heat of the lights will quickly melt real ice.  Drinks are usually dyed water with back lighting.  Modeling clay and toothpicks are used to hold food on the plate.  And those pesky onion pieces that keep sliding off the food?  Glue!

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3 comments

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3 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Lorraine
    07 June 2011, 7:20 am

    Is that why, at certain fast food restaurants (all of them?) the meal pictured looks absolutely nothing like the one pictured on their menu? Your mouth is watering looking at the gorgeous menu pics and then they hand you something that looks like it has been run over by a bus. The food in the pics looks impossibly good because it’s usually not even real food! I think most of the nutritional value is in the picture too. Can you photoshop nutrition?

    [Reply]

    Katherine Reply:

    I think a lot of restaurant chains would LOVE to photoshop nutrition! I am always stunned by the hamburgers you see on TV commercials for places like Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s. They never EVER look like ANYTHING that is served. I honestly don’t think that should be legal!

    [Reply]

  2. Doink
    17 October 2011, 10:47 am

    There’s actually a job especially for this and it’s called “food cosmetician”.

    [Reply]

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