10 tips for styling food and drink for photography
As you might know, food photographers use a wide range of (sometimes weird) tricks to make food look more appetizing. In this video, Jay P. Morgan hosts food photographer Ed Rudolph. He shares ten tricks for styling food and drink to make it look fresh and delicious in your images. And this time, you won’t need to add shoe polish or shaving cream to your food.
1. Fake condensation
You can create fake condensation on a glass so it lasts for quite a long time, even if the beverage warms up. First, cover the top of the glass with a piece of cardboard and spray the outside of the glass with Krylon Crystal Clear spray. This will give it a bit of a texture. When the glass is fully dried, make a 50/50 mix of Karo Syrup (corn syrup) and water. Put it in a sprayer and spray the outside of the glass for a long-lasting condensation effect.
2. Real condensation
If you’d rather get real condensation on a glass, Ed shares a trick for this, too. First off, make sure to start with a clean, dry glass, kept at a room temperature. As for the liquid, make sure it’s cold, and make it extra-cold by placing it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you need it. Pour the beverage into the glass, and use a straw to blow hot air around the glass, to add more natural condensation.
3. Fake ice
As you know, real ice melts away pretty quickly. So, in order not to rush, you can use fake ice. There are two options to choose from: clear acrylic cubes and clear silicone. The acrylic cubes look like nice, clear ice cubes, but there’s a problem with them – they sink. Because real ice floats, using clear ice cubes in a glass will look unnatural. But you can still find a purpose for them, of course. One of them will be mentioned in tip #10.
Clear silicone is sold in large chunks, and you can break it into smaller pieces to get organic-shaped pieces of “ice.” And a good thing is that it floats, just like real ice, so you can add it to your beverages and shoot away.
4. Bounce card behind the glass
Photographing beverages in a glass container requires some backlight to make the subject pop. So, make a bounce card that’s approximately the size of your bottle or glass. Place it behind the subject to get that nice glow of light in the photos.
5. Perfect beer foam
After you pour beer into a glass, the head of foam won’t stay there forever. If you need to revive it, just add some salt into the glass and stir. Voila! Your glass of beer will have a nice head of foam again. Although I’m not sure it will taste so good anymore.
6. Melting butter on a muffin
To make a piece of a butter melt, you need a warm muffin, right? Well, Ed uses a different approach – he warms up the butter rather than the muffin.
Start by keeping the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes, so it’s easier to cut. Then, cut pieces of the firm butter and place them over the muffins. Finally, use a heat gun to make it start melting until it looks gooey. And there you have it – a piece of melting butter even if the muffin is cold.
7. Dilute dark beverages
Dark beverages like Coke or red wine are difficult to photograph, as they may look dull in the photos. Ed suggests a simple trick to make them look a bit more vibrant – dilute them with water. Make a 50/50 mix of water and dark beverage. It will look brighter to our eyes, but it will look much better in photos.
Oh, and if you need some tips for photographing brown food, check them out here.
8. Freshly poured coffee look
Okay, this trick is one of those tricks that will make the beverage unsuitable for consumption later. But, it’s a handy tip for photographing a cup of coffee when it gets a bit stale and flat-looking.
When coffee is freshly poured, it has some bubbles on the surface, which disappear quickly. To bring them back (for photography purposes only), pour a bit of coffee in a measuring cup and add a few drops of clear dish soap. Stir vigorously to form bubbles, and then use a spoon to transfer some of those bubbles to the mug of coffee you want to photograph.
9. Fake crushed ice
If you need to photograph a couple of bottles in a bucket full of crushed ice, there’s something that lasts longer than actual crushed ice – water storing crystals. You can find these at Home Depot, and all you need to do is pour them into your prop bucket, add water and stir. Ed says it’s a trial and error process, so make sure to add water bit by bit until the mixture starts resembling crushed ice.
10. Hearty looking soup
Remember those clear acrylic cubes from #3? You can use them to make soup look more appetizing. Remove some broth from the soup and add the acrylic cubes (or marbles) to the bottom of the bowl. This will push the noodles, meat, and veggies up a bit and make the soup look more delicious.
These are only some of the tricks food stylists and photographers use to make the food and beverages look more appetizing, fresh and delicious. Are there any tips you’d like to share? And do you use any of these in your food photography?
[How to Style Food for Photography |The Slanted Lens]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.