It turns out there’s a good reason that food looks a lot more appetizing in the commercials. Yes, there are plenty of tricks these photographers learn to make meals look as appealing as possible.
No matter how hard we try, it can be tough to ignore all that delicious food we see just about everywhere we go. Online videos of people making incredible meals, those commercials on the TV, and the giant billboards showing off some of the most mouth-watering food we can imagine – it seems as though there’s no end to the number of times our stomachs try to overrule our head. So what if we learned that food might not be all that it seems?
Many of us have been there. We see a delicious burger on the TV but arrive to collect our meal only to find that it looks as though it’s been thrown against the wall. What gives? They say that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on the TV, and now it looks as though even the food commercials are trying to deceive us. Photographing food is more of an art than many of us ever imagined, and there are plenty of tricks used in food commercials that artists need to learn.
Adding some bulk
It turns out that you might want to think twice before chowing down on one of these burgers from the set. Many of us have seen the photos. The ones in the commercials stand tall and proud while the ones in the restaurants have seen better days. What gives?
There is often more than just the ingredients and a few cocktail sticks in the burger. Yes, many photographers also opt to skewer makeup sponges at the back of the burger. This helps to add extra height, as well as make sure the top bun lies perfectly flat to get the picture they’re after.
The perfect milk
How come when we pour ourselves a bowl of cereal ours all sinks to the bottom of the bowl, and we are left with a soggy mess? That’s probably because we’re not eating a bowl full of glue. Yes, you read that correctly. Food photographers want to make sure they show off the cereal in all of its glory.
Some prefer to plastic wrap the bowl and add in a mixture of glue and water to keep things floating, while others make a jello layer that fills the bottom of the bowl before adding a layer of glue over the top and sticking the cereal in place.
Sometimes, all it takes is a small drop of dish soap to create that longer-lasting effect that many of us crave from our drinks. All those fizzy drinks that are supposed to have plenty of foam on the top can soon lose their charm after they have been sitting out in the open for hours while at the set.
It’s dish soap to the rescue. All photographers do is add a small drop to the bottom of the glass before pouring in the drink and voila! The same can also go for milk. A few bubbles on the top of the glass can make it look fresh and appealing.
No collapsing cakes
As much as we try and deny it, many of us have a sweet tooth inside that can’t wait to taste the delicious treat of a slice of cake. It’s a burden that many of us have to bear. Those cake commercials can be enough to make us crumble and head out to get our hands on some of our own.
So why does our slice never look like the one on TV? That could all be thanks to some cardboard. That’s right; many bakers use slices of cardboard in each layer before icing the, over to make sure the cakes stand proud.
It turns out that it’s not just the stack that could be faked when it comes to advertising pancakes. Yes, that syrup might not look so delicious when you learn that it could actually be motor oil instead. Apparently, there is a good reason that many opt to use oil instead.
It seems that syrup can often absorb too quickly into the pancakes, leaving a soggy mess rather than a delicious-looking treat. As if that wasn’t enough, some pancakes are even sprayed with a guard to help the motor oil stay looking fresh for even longer. We think we might pass on dessert…
Creating the perfect burger for a food commercial can be a tough task. Sure, many of these burgers might be made in just a few minutes at a fast-food restaurant, but the chances are that plenty of care and attention has gone into making them for the commercials.
However, it might not be all as it seems. That’s right; that cheese could have been painstakingly blowtorched to make it look like it’s just melted delicately over the edge of the burger, rather than turning into a gooey mess that’s been sat in a box for the last 20 minutes.
Bubbles that last
There are many ways that food photographers make bubbles that last. Many of us take antacids after a bottle of pop. However, some sets have them already mixed into the drink. The bright lights and open air means that it might not be long before all of those bubbles are gone for good.
All it takes is an antacid or two in the glass to get things fizzing away once again. As if that wasn’t enough, many drinks aren’t actually what they seem in the first place. Many professionals admit to using carbonated water and food coloring, soy sauce, or even gravy to make drinks look perfect.
Unbelievable ice cream
It’s a hot day, and an ice cream commercial pops up on the TV. It’s a sing; we need to get to the store and grab ourselves a tub. So why does ours look so different from the one that we have just seen? Probably because it’s not actually ice cream at all. In fact, you could be looking at a scoop made from corn syrup, shortening, and food coloring.
Now, people can make whatever flavor ice cream they like by simply changing the color. Sadly, this one might not taste as delicious as the one that we get from the store, but at least it looks good, right?
Mashed ice cream
Working in a hot studio under beaming lights means that it might not be long before things start to melt. That might not look so great in the commercial. Rather than play against the clock to make sure they can finish the photoshoot in time, some food photographers have found the perfect solution.
All it takes is a scoop of mashed potatoes, and they could be onto a winner. Yes, this doesn’t melt underneath the hot lights, and can quickly be turned into any color without the worry of it becoming a sticky mess all over the table. Potatoes really are a superfood.
Glued to the spot
One roast turkey or chicken looks like any other on the market, right? Wrong. Photographers work hard to make sure that theirs looks as perfect as possible, and it seems as though many will stop at no lengths to make that happen.
They usually work with raw chicken, meaning they have plenty of ways to correct any faults. Super glue can be their best friend as it’s perfect for fixing any tears in the skin. Plus, the glue can also be used to hold all the parts in place or even add extras to the dish without worrying about something like gravity getting in the way.
Saving on cooking
Of course, cooking a whole turkey or chicken can take hours. Many food photographers often don’t have the time to waste. Plus, the meat can look entirely different by the time it comes out of the oven. Rather than wait for the oven to do its job, there is a trick that many have learned over the years.
It takes a simple mixture that usually consists of the likes of browning sauce and food coloring. Then, take a paintbrush and cover the entire dish. All of a sudden, it can make it look as though it’s been lovingly prepared at home.
Plenty of volume
Preparing a roast chicken often takes a lot of time. Plus cooking it in the oven means that it can lose some of its plumpness along the way. Of course, there is an answer once again. Many photographers use paper towels to help make it look as though the chicken is full and delicious.
It takes just moments to make sure that the entire thing is stuffed to the brim. However, some don’t stop there. Other people have opted to sow the chicken shut to make sure that none of their secrets are revealed, while others sow parts of the meat to itself to make sure it stays in place.
It appears that shoe polish might be more of a regular part of food photography than many of us ever believed. Whoever would have thought there could be so many uses to the stuff? Not everyone has the time or the equipment to chargrill meat on set.
Rather than find a way to cook their meat, many people prefer to use shoe polish instead. That’s right; it just takes a sponge and some careful placement to make it look as though it’s been lovingly cooked over open coals rather than arriving raw to the set and heading to the makeup department.
Swirly whipped cream
Apparently, there are plenty of benefits to using shaving foam as opposed to real cream in commercials. It is typically a lot thicker. This means that people can create perfect swirls and those intricate designs without the worry of the cream running.
Plus, the studio can quickly become a sauna as everyone is working hard to make sure they land the perfect shot of the day. Whipped cream and heat? That’s usually a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, shaving foam typically lasts a lot longer when it’s sat under the lights. It might just take some reminding to remember that it’s not a real dessert.
Keeping things afloat
It appears that we can’t even trust a bowl of soup when it comes to all those food commercials. When did a bowl of delicious stuff start to lie to us, too? We can’t trust anyone nowadays. Of course, it can often look pretty appetising to have a bowl of soup delicately topped with garnish and cream.
That is until it starts to sink beneath the surface and is gone for good. Have no fear; all you need is a small bowl or ramekin. Photographers merely push it underneath the surface. This way, there is a platform that can be to balance anything that is supposed to be on the surface.
Holding things steady
It seems as though every aspect of a burger has been carefully assembled before it’s placed in front of the camera. Many of us have opened that takeout box and wondered what happened back there in the kitchen to leave us with this mess. The reason that salad looks so fluffy and fresh?
It probably doesn’t go all the way through the burger. Instead, many photographers take small pieces of lettuce, tomato, and any other extras in the dish, and carefully skewer them through the burger, so they delicately poke out of the side and don’t cause the piece to topple over.
Nice and juicy
Have you wondered why patties look so juicy in the advert? This can be thanks to a whole host of reasons. Some photographers prefer to add vegetable oil to the meal. This usually goes undetected by anyone on the other side of the camera, but it helps the burger to catch the light in all the right ways.
Another way to make it look as though the meat is a lot juicier than reality is to undercook the burger. Sometimes, people merely cook half the burger or brown the outside while leaving the middle raw to make sure all of those natural juices flow to the outside.
Matching the color
Not all food commercials are shot in kitchens. In fact, sometimes they need to travel the food to the set and assemble their meal once they have arrived. So what are you supposed to do with a raw burger? Thankfully, there’s a trick for that, too.
Some commercials actually feature raw patties that have been colored with shoe polish to make them look brown and delicious. But they have grill marks? Surely they must have been cooked? They can be recreated with hot skewers or by dipping one of the sticks into the shoe polish and carefully applying it to each part of the burger.
No seed out of place
Believe it or not, but some people will go to any length to make sure that their food looks the best that it can in the commercial – no matter how long it takes. Grabbing a burger bun from the packet means that anything could have happened.
There’s a chance all of those sesame seeds have fallen off, or they have gathered into a large clump on the side of the burger. That means that it’s often someone’s job to painfully take each sesame seed with a pair of tweezers and carefully place them onto the top of the bun. Ouch.
Why is it that fruit always looks so nice and shiny in the commercials? That could be because we’re not spraying ours with something undesirable. Yes, deodorant is a fan favorite for many as they try to make the fruit look as shiny as possible. Others prefer to use hairspray as their weapon of choice, but that’s not all.
Some professionals use hidden wire and toothpicks to make sure fruit, such as bunches of grapes, are perfectly positioned. Baby powder can also be perfect for making it look as though the fruit has come straight out of the fridge and hasn’t been sitting in front of a camera for hours.
Enhancing the color
It can be tough to find a perfect looking piece of fruit, but that’s no issue, right? After all, using up all the misshapen ones can help to make the world a more eco-conscious place. However, most places want to advertise only the best of the best fruit in their commercials.
This means any unsightly blemishes need to be gone for good, while bright colors are usually the only ones that make the final cut. Don’t worry if you’re a piece of fruit that looks a little less than perfect. It turns out that a simple layer of bright lipstick can be all it takes.
That fresh look
Seafood can be a pretty tough item of food to work with on set. This is because it can lose its freshness pretty quickly, and the chances are that no one will be feeling hungry over some limp-looking fish. Sometimes, fish is cooked in a coffee pot so it can be prepared there and then without sitting around for hours.
However, there are other ways to get that perfect look. Some food photographers also use glycerin to keep things looking shiny. Yes, all they do is mix it with a little bit of water. This helps to add shine to the meal.
Making perfect noodles
It usually only takes a few minutes to cook noodles. Perhaps that’s why they have become such a popular dish for many over the years? Sadly, it’s their fast cooking time that means they can often be difficult for photographers to work with.
They dry out quickly and lose that fresh shine they typically have as soon as they come out of the pan. There’s a trick that could fix that. Sometimes, photographers coat the dish with glucose syrup, an ingredient that is typically reserved for desserts. This helps to add a long-lasting shine until everyone has the perfect shot.
Ever-lasting ice cubes
We’re starting to get those photography studios are pretty hot. This seems to be a recurring theme that makes it tough to picture many meals. It appears that ice is no exception. As well as having to make sure they have enough on set, photographers would also have to store the ice until it’s needed.
That is until we learn they might not be ice cubes, after all. That’s right; there are plastic alternatives that look just like the real thing – just without the mess. As if that wasn’t enough, you can also buy fake splashes to make it look as though something has been dropped in water.
There is often nothing like a creamy sauce delicately running off the edge of a spoon as we pour it over our meal. Food commercials have learned how to use all of our senses to create the ultimate treat for our bodies. What if we told you that even the sauces might not be what they seem?
Yes, some of them might actually contain melted wax while others could be nothing but a melted alternative. This can be to help thicken up ordinary sauces or to make a sauce a bolder color to make them look perfect in front of the camera.
Art and crafts
Photographing food isn’t just about capturing whatever is on the plate. It can also be about putting your own spin on the meal to make sure that it’s not just another snap of food that will get lost among all the others. Sometimes, photographers need to use all kinds of angles to make sure they capture the food for all that it’s worth.
This means tilting the plate and getting up close with the meals. Unfortunately, gravity isn’t always on their side. Rather than risk something topping over, some professionals use clay. This means they can keep the plate in position as well as hold the food to the surface.
Frosted glass effect
Although natural ice can help make glass look perfectly frosted, it can be tough to make it look just perfect. Instead, we are usually left with a wet mess. Plus, faking other aspects of the drink means we might not always get the look that we’re after.
Perhaps that’s why food photographers have come up with the perfect trick to make that glass look as though it’s covered in condensation? All it takes is a little spritz of deodorant all around the outside of the glass, and it might not be long before you’re left with that refreshing-looking drink after all.
Making that steam
Mmm, a steaming hot meal can be enough to get many of our mouths watering. Of course, it must be delicious and fresh if we can see the steam rising from the dish, right? Well, things might not be what they seem. It turns out that most of the food used on the set has never been near an oven or is served cold to save time.
Plus, there are so many ways we can fake perfection. One of the various ways that food photographers make steam is merely by investing in a steamer. Some leave it running in the background while others waft it around the air before the shoot.
Fake it ’til you make it
There are plenty of ways to make steam come to life that doesn’t involve actually making the foot hot. One of the most popular options? This can be a simple yet effective trick for many. All you need to do is dip cotton balls in water before heating them for a minute or so in the microwave.
Then, merely place the balls behind the food that needs to be steaming, and you should have a few minutes of steam before you can repeat the process for the perfect shot. The best bit? It’s so simple that any of us can recreate the look when photographing our own dishes.
There is nothing quite like pouring a jug of syrup over a stack of pancakes, right? That is until the pancakes start to slide out of control and head in all different directions on the plate. Thankfully, many food photographers have learned a few tricks to help make sure they’re pancake stack stays standing high.
All they often do is place a small circle of cardboard in between each pancake, so there is a sturdy column running through the middle. They are cut small enough, so the cardboard goes unnoticed in the shot. Now, they can pour their syrup with no worries.