In a professional studio, when you work with a food stylist, you can pick up great tricks to make foods look glorious. I’ve always loved studio work, spending days hanging out with creative people (me, faking the appearance that I was in charge of something).
Stylists have carloads of kits with every craft item and power tool out there to make a cupcake look like Princess Diana. But with such art and science goodies at their disposal (which anybody can buy), they possess two luxuries in their job that food bloggers cannot afford: (1) they have hours and (2) they put their hands all over the food (quite necessarily, then trashed and not eaten).
Once bloggers’ photos are shot, we feed our families waiting hungrily in the next room. We cannot manhandle meat for a morning, or use pink-tinged Vaseline to fill in funky holes in strawberries, or spritz glycerin on glassware to fake a drink’s temperature (hint: for hot drinks, spritz the inside of the glass. Cold, spritz outside. I shot a gazillion Kahlua cocktails at my tiny PR agency dontcha know).
So when I recently stopped by a production facility with Food Fanatics’ Denise Vivaldo and her team in the throes of a gigantic shoot, I cajoled them into giving me a precious list of tips and tricks that food bloggers can use. There are several posts coming on everything I learned!
Here is what (from left), the talented team of Cindy Flannigan, Denise Vivaldo, Jeff Parker and Jen Park generously shared:
10 Tips and Tricks for Food Bloggers
- Barbecued meats: brush with a little Karo Syrup and CAREFULLY hit it with a torch* for a more caramelized finish
- Use natural light to shoot, never flash. Practice in different rooms to find the right lighting spots.
- Make a reflector (i.e. foil-wrapped cardboard or something shiny) to “bounce” light onto your subject and fill in dark places
- Undercook your meat to shoot it first, then pop back into the oven or grill to finish off for your consumption. Plumper is prettier
- Before garnishing, view your food through the camera to see where garnish is needed
- Brush shellfish and pasta with olive oil to brighten colors, add palatable sheen
- If your main food subject is flat (like steak), prop it up with something like a small makeup wedge to add visual depth
- To fix chocolate bloom, rub with a teensy bit of veg oil
- Cover foods with a damp paper towel to hold freshness when not shooting
- Dishware makes all the difference, give it lots of thought.
In this series… 10 Clever Tools for Food Bloggers (*which will include that TORCH), 10 Hardest Foods to Shoot and 10 Easiest Foods To Shoot.