June 4, 2017

10 Tricks You Can Use to Make Food Look Camera-Ready

There's a reason why food looks so good in advertisements. (It's partly due to the fact that they're largely inedible.)

Don't you hate it when food doesn't look as good as it was advertised? There you are at a drive-thru, getting ready to mow down on what you think is going to be a super model of a burger, only to find a smashed up butterface on a bun. Though you, the consumer, may be dismayed by this food trickery, you, the filmmaker, may be interested in knowing how food stylists manage to make dishes look so damn appetizing on camera. This video shares ten techniques you can use in your own work.

Food styling is certainly an art form that requires a lot of aesthetic decisions, like item placement, color scheme, and food sculpting. However, these artists will need more than that to get these dishes looking camera-ready. In fact, they'll need to use materials that are (ironically) inedible, like shaving cream, motor oil, and shoe polish, in order to make their superstar food look delicious. Here are ten tricks food stylists use to work their magic:

  • Heating up water-soaked cotton balls is great for creating steam.
  • Mashed potatoes are used for everything: plumping up turkeys, giving better consistency, and as a stand-in for ice cream.
  • Glue is used instead of milk.
  • Food stylists use shoe polish to create grill marks.
  • Whipped cream? Nah, use shaving cream.
  • Spray deodorant makes fruit look nice and shiny.
  • Colored wax helps make sauces look thicker and more vibrant.
  • Use cardboard to separate layers of cake and burgers. Use pins to hold it all in place. 
  • Barely-cooked Turkeys and other birds are stuffed with paper and mashed potatoes and then painted golden brown.
  • Want to capture the perfect pancake stack? Spray them with Scotchgard and use motor oil instead of syrup.

Kind of disgusting, but also kind of amazing, right? What are some other useful food styling tricks you use to make food look delicious? Let us know down below!      

Your Comment

3 Comments

Depends completely on what your need is... every TVC I've done, our food stylist has made everything from the bottom up (with the actual products that is... then added some fresh items to spice up colors etc.). I have never in my life used any of those things you mention, except for cardboard a couple of times.
Yes our stylist may fry the roast hard in the oven when it doesn't need to be cut, but when cutting is needed, she spends the time needed to roast it right as edible.
And we do 75% food stuff...

Nothing beats the real thing.... but here's the "unless", if you work in fiction and your scene has food in it that the cast doesn't eat and you are doing a lot of takes, I can totally understand the need for fake food.

Our trick is to get the shot in a very short time... we make sure all the tech is up and running and then when the food is ready, we are done in less than 10 minutes.

June 5, 2017 at 10:49AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
760

Oh yeah... we the most fake people... :)
Lol.

June 5, 2017 at 3:04PM, Edited June 5, 3:04PM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
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June 7, 2017 at 4:42PM

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charu jain
Director of photography
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