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Photography Question 
Jesse G. Hlady

Techniques for Prepping Food

I am about to photograph food for a client that has heard food photography entails a lot of glazing and dry ice and different preparation. I have photographed food but never with elaborate prep work besides corn syrup for dew drops. I'm looking for whatever techniques anyone has for basically anything - fake ice cream, grill marks, steam etc. Thanks very much ... all info is appreciated.

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8/16/2004 6:36:12 PM

Pamela K
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/21/2004
  There was a special about this on HBO a couple years ago. They were talking about different ways that food is prepped when making advertisements and commercials. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the documentary. Some stuff I do remember:
Glue works well as a substitute for milk; use raw meat and brand with a hot wire to make grill marks that aren't all blurred, toothpicks can hold sandwiches together so that the lettuce and tomato are peeking out of the bread (you don't need whole pieces); be very selective of fruits and vegetables (make sure there are no marks and that the color is perfect, at least on the side facing the camera); steam is often produced using dry ice.
That's all I remember off the top of my head. Maybe someone else will know the name of the show ... It was about the truth and lies in advertising or something like that ... Hope this helps. I've never actually tried any of these methods. Pam

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8/17/2004 1:17:54 PM


BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/28/2003
  Also, for cooked food, keep it under-cooked. It looks better.

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8/17/2004 4:41:12 PM

John Wright   I recently went through this same exercise ... I now know why there is a profession for "Food Designers". It's not as easy as one might think. A couple of things I learned:
1. Olive oil was my friend. I used it to bring out the highlights on many things (bread, meat, garnishes, etc.).
2. Lots of light and lots of diffusion.
3. Lower angles.
4. Open apertures.
5. Glycerin works well.
6. Plan on spending some time doing this. In my case, 2 full days, 800 shots, 20 items... Hope that helps - Good luck!

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8/17/2004 5:52:08 PM

Randy Kinney   I just read an interesting article on this subject the other day. Unless I'm mistaken, it is in the new issue of Popular Photography. I will try and locate the article and get back with you. As has been noted in some of the responses, there is much more involved than what I would have dreamed of.


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8/18/2004 5:00:56 AM

Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/18/2004
  I recently did a food shoot myself. The above tips are good. Here are a couple of others out of Petersen's.
-Recipe for "ice cream" that won't melt: confectionary sugar, mashed potatoes, Fleishman's margarine, and light corn syrup, shaped with an ice cream scooper.
-Use mirrors, reflectors, and foil to bounce light back onto the subject. (Of course, diffuse lighting is good; never use the on-camera or direct flash).
-Keep the props minimal.
Good luck!

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8/18/2004 7:42:53 AM

Randy Kinney   The article was the September edition of Pop Photo. The article begins on page 93. Some of the tips offered from the article:
For grill marks on meats, heat a skewer with a blow-torch and apply at measured intervals.
Avoid bagged food ... bagging creates unnatural surface textures and warps the shape.
Florist wire for holding lettuce and leafy herbs upright.
Glass cleaner and cotton swabs for touching up plates, just before shooting.
Putty and shims for holding food and props in position.
Corn syrup for glossing pasta.
Overall, a very interesting article. I recommend it.

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8/18/2004 6:15:34 PM

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