I've never cooked for the camera, but I understand that it is VERY different from cooking for eating. I've heard (famous last words, eh?) that food stylists have a jillion tricks up their sleeves to make the food look great... ranging from cold food to sprays/coatings to substitutes for the real food. I once wondered why I cooked a recipe and it tasted great but didn't look nearly as nice as the photo. Then I learned a bit about the difference between cook, chef, stylist, and photographer!
Originally Posted by Flotsam
David is right, and PE is right. If you are advertising food you have to have the actual food. Everything else can be fake. The milk in the pictures on cereal boxes is usually Crisco. Not lard. Lard melts too quickly. In cooking magazines and cook books the food is the real stuff, only touched up with real stuff that is in the recipe. I had a long talk with a food photog who shot for publication once. This was at the time when natural light was all the vogue and he would have the cooks bring the food to his set up under a tree. or whereever the best light outside was. For television shows anything goes and I was told by a camaera man once that he learned the hard way NOT to sneak a cookie off the set.
Food photography has always been an interest for me. Never was anygood at it though.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
I read in a book somewhere, that if you were photographing soup, for example, you couldn't add extra vegetables or meat, it had to be whatever was actually in the can. However, there wasn't anything stopping you from putting marbles in the bottom of the bowl to make the vegetables and meat rise to the top. So, there are a bunch of little tricks that you can use. Like you, food photography has always interested me, but I've never tried doing it.
Originally Posted by mark
Originally Posted by leicam5
I sincerely hope you didn't think I was getting at you for the way you wrote. Far from it; I was thinking of those whose mother tongue is nominally English, and who have failed to master even the basics. Moi, apres trois ans je peux lire en francais mais pas ecrire; if I could write French as well as you write English I should be a happy man.
Having said that, 'pigeon' is apparently a back formation from 'pidgin', the origin of which is obscure. That's the only correction I'd dare make.
Like you, I did very little fakery on food. Sure, I used sugar or salt in beer to make it foam, or occasionally a bit of olive oil painted on meat to make it glisten more, and I've often found that slightly undercooked food photographs better. I shot four cook-books across several years (1989-1994 or thereabouts), so presumably my style was acceptable, though I've not done one for over a decade.
I was under the impression (garnered not only from my own experience but also from other food photographers I used to know in the UK) that the heyday of fake food was well in the past; and indeed, with my wife Frances I wrote/edited the Rotovision Pro Lighting book Food Shots (1994) which confirmed this impression. Perhaps it survives more on the other side of the Atlantic? Or perhaps it has been revived?
To make a turkey look good for a photograph, use a product called Kitchen Bouquet. It is a darkening agent for gravies. Thin it down with a bit of oil and water. Then brush it on a baked turkey. Take a Creme Bruelle torch and brown the whole thing. There you go guys the perfectly looking juicy browned turkey. I know that the milk WS used was actually elmers glue. Hair spray gives a more matte finish, olive oil in a spray can makes things glossy. Spray acrylics make lettuce stand up and look shiny like they are fresh. A bit of an egg wash brushed on the tops of baked goods, thinned with wagter to the desired look then flash torched will give that wonderful brown cooked look. The heavier or thicker the egg wash the glossier it is.
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ROFL! That is so bad it's good!
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
I shudder thinking back and remembering that our home-ec teachers used to actually encourage us to create dishes like that!
Most of the recent cookery books I have bought have very much been of the real food photography, not faked type. Nigel Slater's latest for example (everything he ate for a year, photos tajken before eating), and Dan lepard's baking books. Fashions have changed, though packaging versus cookbooks are rather different. I slightly know a food photographer, who finally went digital recently, but with an MF back - you cant really do food photography without camera movements I dont think, at least for smaller foods.
I do food in restaurants and we never use fake stuff, some trickery every once in a while as others have mentioned. Twenty some yeras ago, shooting food in a studio, there was much more trickery and fake stuff than you see today. I shoot 5x7 or 4x5 and generaly shoot Astia which I find to be the most dead neutral color film. As for color balance I use a color meter and cc filters.
Last edited by Ted Harris; 09-04-2006 at 08:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.
It was always a heartbreaker to toss a huge mouthwateringly picture-perfect Turkey that smells like Thanksgiving in Heaven right into the garbage after a session. Truth was, it was only cooked about a quarter inch deep. If the breast was sliced exposing the interior, a heat gun quickly cooked the visible parts.
One client was an English Muffin company. If they needed a photo with one split muffin on a plate, they would send about two gross of loose muffins in large clear plastic bags. The stylist would choose a couple dozen of the most photogenic and carefully split them, groom them with tweezers and toast them by hand with a heat gun and torch. The top and bottom halves in the picture were never from the same muffin.
What happened to the other couple of hundred English Muffins that didn't make the cut? Man, I used to eat a lot of English Muffins back in those days.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
Yes, the other day when I went to show the apartment to a prospective tenant my photog was there. I kidded him about leaving a Hassy behind for me since he was now all-digital.
Originally Posted by roteague
He didn't tell me which camera it was for - but he told me he had just purchased a digi scanning back - it cost $30,000!
The work he does justifies this expense, of course. But it still seemed a bit amazing that a camera back would cost as much as a near-luxury car! :o