Since starting and becoming Gourmand Chic I learned many aspects of food I never learnt before. A whole new world opened up to me. As of recently, since working on testing out my recipes for my future cookbook to be published, I have played around with photography (using my Nikon D60) and found out through my research that there are dirty dirty tricks people use to make their food look appetizing. I found out that food photography is 80% of the success of a cookbook and not so much the taste itself. If it looks appealing, it sells! Who cares if it even tastes good as long as it looks good right?
Food is among the more difficult of subjects for photographers. Imagine trying to make every dish look hot when it is actually cold…or cold when it actually isn’t anymore. How do you bring out the colors of your ingredients? How can we make sauce look good without looking like…sauce? Yes, many many questions you may ask.
Well, here are some tips I learned and would like to share with you. I admit it, I did NOT come up with all these tips by myself or I’d be a famous blogger/vlogger already. But we can all certainly learn from each other and I love to learn. So here it is, tips to help your food look tasty and fresh.
Motor oil, as a stand-in for unphotogenic syrups.
Glycerin, along with various sizes of artist’s paintbrushes (to make seafood look like it was just caught that morning) and a misting bottle (to spritz lettuce salads, giving them that just-picked-and-rinsed look).
Cotton balls, which, when soaked and microwaved, perform quite nicely in creating the illusion of steaming-hot foods.
Spray deodorant, which gives grapes that desirable frosty veneer.
Hairspray, which can give (the appearance of) new life to a drying-out slab of cake.
Spray fabric protector, to prevent the motor-oil syrup from soaking into the pancake, which has bursting blueberries artfully pinned to it in an aesthetically pleasing, yet random, scattering (still hungry?).
Toothpicks, to hold unruly sandwiches together and tease out perfect crumbs from hot (wink wink) muffins.
Tweezers, for looping noodles in the stir fry and rearranging miniscule yet crucial crumbs.
Large syringe, to emulate the effect of a padded bra by squirting mashed potatoes under the skin of poultry before it is torch-cooked to give it a deliciously voluptuous appearance.
Brown shoe polish, so raw meat appears to be just-out-of-the-roaster succulent.
Smoke pellets or incense sticks, which can stand in for steam as long as they are lightly fanned so their smoke disperses, avoiding the appearance of a lit cigarette laying behind the pot pie.
White glue, used instead of milk for cereal photos and for pie repair (that would be the pie actually filled with mashed potatoes, where a serving-sized piece is cut out, with the resulting opening’s edges slathered with lemon custard or rhubarb-strawberry filling).
Paper towels, which, when artistically torn into blob shapes, can make gooey syrups stick to the top of ice cream, which may really be a concoction of powdered sugar and shortening.
Sturdy cardboard squares, used to make little raw (except for the blow-torched edges) ground beef-patty-platforms (with the help of the toothpicks) to keep the fatty patties from mooshing the frilly lettuce. A few strategically placed hat pins and voila! The world’s perfect hamburger. (Note: Bun selection is a critical part of the set-up process; photographers have been known to glue sesame seeds in too-bare spaces.)
I guess the idea of good food isn’t always the taste, looks can be deceiving too! So try out some of these tips and be on your way to being a professional food stylist. Yes, there is such a job.