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More Beautiful Than It Is: Food Styling

Almost every picture of food that comes to our eyes is the result of the work of the team of stylists. They think through packaging, make out menus, magazines, cookbooks and billboards. Many people are convinced that in food styling all dishes are replaced in photos with inedible, but mouth-watering looking objects.
You can often hear conversations like “instead of ice cream they use puree, and instead of milk – PVA.” But it’s really a myth that the stylists replace ice cream with mashed potatoes, the glue usually dries up, so it’s impossible to take any photos… And they don’t use shaving foam instead of whipped cream, but the whipped cream itself!

The art of shooting ice cream

Photographing ice cream is difficult even physically – you have to spend at least a few days in the cold among dry ice. It melts quickly and must be frozen a few days before you can form beautiful balls out of it. In this case, natural ice cream freezes better and faster than that which is full of guar gum. And the stylist is better to have strong arms to be able to cut a hard ice cream. Because on the already soft one you can’t see those grooves that the client wants so much. Our advice is to take photos of the ice cream without any additives because it becomes more difficult. Cherries or nuts can spoil the appearance of the ice cream itself – to pierce the hole in the ball, for example.

Chocolate rivers

In advertising of chocolate bars the flowing chocolate, the stylists usually pour the chocolate not on the bars themselves, but huge dummies. The fact is that real snacks are too small and it is not possible to pour chocolate on them in a beautiful way. For one dummy can go about 20 kilograms of chocolate. At the same time, the film crew can choose the appropriate chocolate for a week. It should be of the right viscosity to create exactly the same chocolate stream that everyone wants to see in the commercial. As a result, for one shooting they can purchase almost 400 kilograms of chocolate of different consistency. Stylists literally pour the rivers of chocolate, and it drains into huge cisterns.

Flowing chocolate, rotating tables and “headliners”

The arrangement of shooting takes so much time, that by the time when everything is finally ready, the food has time to cool down. For example, a steaming baked potato next to a steak is not nearly as hot as it looks in a photo. The stylists just put the tank with hot water around the plate during the shooting. And thanks to it, there is a feeling that the potatoes have just been taken out of the oven, although in fact it is room temperature.

A plate with a dish is often placed on a special rotating table. While there are several cameras in search for a beautiful picture, an individual carefully control the procedure to ensure that not a single extra crumb, a drop of water or any dirty spot will appear on the plate. About 30-40 takes are in front of you, and you need to change the hot plate every couple of minutes. So you spend the whole day with a “standby” plate at the ready, trying to organically integrate into the work of the whole team. The plate, which is removed the latest, we call the “headliner” As soon as it appears on the set, everyone is trying to do his best and the whole process looks like a ballet production.

Food-styling trends: from sterility to realism

Food styling today tends to be realistic. It’s quite fashionable when the dish looks like it was made at home. In the past, on the contrary, there was sterility – food had to be very accurate, clean and without any crumbs remained on the plate. Today, stylists speak a different language.

For example, let’s mention the manufacturers of cakes. Previously, if you had to cut a square piece from a cake of 20 to 30 centimeters size, it should have been the perfect square. Today, there is no such demand anymore, and no one is worried about the natural shape of the piece. Also nobody really cares that the glaze on the cake would break slightly or the crumbs would get on the plate. The image of the cake on the box should not frighten the average buyer with its ideality. It is necessary to make the person willing to buy it and to cook by himself later.

Pizza is difficult

To take the photo of the pizza is almost the most difficult. Within a couple of hours the cheese may not look as appetizing as it should, and even warming up will not help it. It is necessary to dance with a tambourine near the oven, keeping track of the moment when the cheese will look exactly as the client needs. Despite the fact that it is difficult, you should try to get down to work with pizza. Because if you shoot it well, as a result, a really beautiful picture comes out.

Styling without styling and natural looking food

Clients often propose inappropriate recipes for shooting, so you have to figure everything out by yourself. You need to understand how to cook meat so that when you cut it, there is no blood left in the center of the piece, but the meat is ideally pink. You need to know how to melt different kinds of cheese so that they look appetizing on the pizza. And you can have a nice piece of ham, but when slicing it you will find a layer of fat. Therefore, it is always necessary to have a plan B, to understand the chemical processes that occur when preparing food and at the same time be able to give out a beautiful picture.

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