You can use these ten tricks to make food look fantastic in photos

Jun 5, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

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.

You can use these ten tricks to make food look fantastic in photos

Jun 5, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

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.

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The food in ads always looks appetizing and makes your mouth water. However, you probably wouldn’t want to take a bite of these dishes. Photographers and videographers use a bunch of weird tricks that make the food look gorgeous – but they also make them inedible.

This video from Top Trending brings you ten tricks photographers use to make the food look good in photos. If you’re not really a great cook, but you still want to make the food photogenic – you can use them at home or in the studio to make stunning images.

YouTube video

1. Water-soaked cotton balls for steam

Steamy food looks freshly cooked, but as you can guess – it quickly gets cold during a photo shoot. It’s not really convenient to cook a fresh batch of food every time, so food photographers use heated water-soaked cotton balls to create steam.

2. Mashed potatoes for sweets and stuffing birds

Mashed potatoes are a star of food photography tricks. They are used for adding volume to roasted turkeys and chickens, but also in sweets. Delicious cakes are made with mashed potatoes so they don’t fall apart when cut. And the weirdest of all – that delicious-looking ice cream you see in photos, it’s most likely made of mashed potatoes. Real ice cream would melt under studio lights, so mashed potatoes come as a convenient replacement.

3. Glue for milk

When photographing a ball of cereal with milk, it’s hard to keep them looking fresh and crunchy. Real milk makes them soggy, so photographers don’t actually use milk for these photos – they use glue instead.

4. Shoe polish for grill marks

Getting the perfect grill marks on steaks isn’t easy even for the chefs in restaurants. But food photographers use a trick that makes grill marks darn good-looking. They use shoe polish to draw them, and the steaks are actually baked in the oven or on a flat grill.

5. Shaving cream for whipped cream

Just like ice cream, whipped cream would start melting in seconds under studio lights. To avoid this, photographers use shaving cream instead. It looks exactly the same as whipped cream, although – I bet it doesn’t taste as good.

6. Spray deodorant for fruit

Fresh fruit distributors use a thin coating of wax to make the fruit look more appealing in person. It’s not enough for photographers, so they add a generous layer of spray deodorant to make the fruit shiny and appetizing.

7. Wax for sauces

Photographing sauces poses a lot of challenges. It’s not easy to get the right consistency and the color can appear dull in photos. To solve these problems, photographers use wax. It thickens the sauce and adds the right color, so it resolves all the problems at once.

8. Cardboard for cakes and hamburgers

Just like mashed potatoes, cardboard makes lots of foods look super-appealing in photos. It’s often added between the layers of cake, to make the frosting look evenly distributed and avoid crumbs on it. Photographers also add it between the layers of a burger to make everything look perfect, and they attach everything with pins. That’s why your burger never looks as good in person as in does on the billboard. But hey, at least you won’t have the mouth full of pins and cardboard.

9. Paint and paper towels for roasted birds

Making a whole turkey or chicken perfectly roasted isn’t easy, especially if you want it to look good in photos. Well, the ones you see in photos aren’t even edible. They are barely cooked, stuffed with paper towels to look plump, and finally painted golden brown to look like they were baked just right.

10. Motor oil for maple syrup

A stack of pancakes covered in maple syrup… Yummy! But if this is your favorite breakfast, you know how quickly the pancakes absorb the syrup. To avoid this, photographers spray the pancakes with fabric protector such as Scotch-Gard. However, since the syrup can heat up and become runny, they often need a replacement, so they cover the pancakes in thick and delicious-looking motor oil. Not so yummy after all.

Knowing these tricks is convenient for two main reasons. First, you can easily find all these ingredients and use them for your food photography. And second, you won’t feel disappointed next time your food doesn’t look in person as it does in the ad.

If you are a food photographer, do you use any of these tricks? Are there any other you use and are you willing to share them with us? Leave your comments below.

[10 Mind Blowing Tricks Advertisers Use to Manipulate Photos via No Film School]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

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.

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6 responses to “You can use these ten tricks to make food look fantastic in photos”

  1. 孟恬 Avatar
    孟恬

    This is like a short overview, about what’s wrong with today’s food photography ^^

    1. Dunja0712 Avatar
      Dunja0712

      At least this makes me feel better about the food I make looking a bit crappy in photos. :D

  2. John Swanda Avatar
    John Swanda

    These kind of “tricks” are not acceptable to ethical food photographers, and if used in advertising, can be considered false advertising.

    1. charles young Avatar
      charles young

      when have you ever been served a meal that even vaguely resembled the photo of the meal? its all false advertising.

    2. Neil Robertson Avatar
      Neil Robertson

      So the plastic sushi plates are false advertising? Not just sushi plates, but any store with a plastic mock-up of food? These plastic foodstuffs are used for advertising because real food spoils over time. It would be quite a stretch to call that false advertising.

  3. Georg Salkowskij Avatar
    Georg Salkowskij

    many thanks, Dunja!