In another life, I worked as a set stylist at QVC Studios for several garden vendors. Working my way up from water girl to head designer took three years, and I learned a lot.
For example, always provide the host/talent with an unadulterated product to sample on air. Hide it behind the basket of gleaming strawberries (sprayed with vegetable oil). Make sure there is a real tomato sitting on the cutting board next to the knife, so he or she doesn’t try and cut a fake one. Be sure to warn of the blueberry pie (with shaving cream whipped topping).
When all else fails, hide in the green room. Because the cringe-worthy moment will eventually occur. It’s live TV. You will sink in your seat, and cover your eyes, perhaps let out a whimper, or a scream, when the host moves to sniff a silk rose that just got touched up with a spritz of spray paint…
What does all this have to do with food photography?
Many tricks of the trade make food that has been photographed inedible. I hate waste, and I always try to come up with edible ways to stage my food shots. Just in case I get a snack-attack on set.
- Rinse fresh veggies in a colander just before the shot, they will glisten for the photo, and will also be ready-to-eat.
- Cook the ingredients separate, when possible, and not all the way. Stage for the shot, (less-cooked veggies have better color) then throw back into the pot and finish cooking for dinner.
- Use daylight whenever possible, it makes everything look more appetizing and you won’t need to trick the lens.
- Cut the pie, quiche, lasagna, etc. once it has cooled. Less chance of a soupy shot. Then re-heat and eat!
- Always have fresh herbs on hand…that splash of green injects any food photo with life. And any dish with flavor.
Ok, that’s enough, I’m not giving away anymore trade secrets.
Below are photos taken at one of my favorite eateries here in the Catskills, Zephyr Restaurant, along with shots for restaurant articles in Watershed Post (Two Old Tarts & Bite Me Bakery) Sometimes I take my family on a trip without even leaving the kitchen, I include those shots as well.
Apologies, should you become hungry…
Lemon tart @ Two Old Tarts in Andes, NY | Cupcakes @ Bite Me Bakery in Shokan, NY
Above: Yogurt and berry parfait @ Zephyr Restaurant in Pine Hill, NY Below: Lemon curd hostess gifts and spiced cranberry compote
An evening visit to Japan, perfectly artificially lit, totally consumed
Revisiting Quebec City one morning: Alton Brown’s blender crepes, both savory and sweet