Despite what they looked like ...

... the olives were delicious.

Mind you, I ate them before I looked at the photograph I'd taken.

All right ... I'll admit ... they didn't look that bad. But they didn't look terribly appetising, either, did they? And food photography is all making things look so appetising that the viewer's mouth waters. The object is to get the customer to buy the stuff.

It's a tough call.

There's a saying in photographic circles - "If you can photograph food, you can photograph anything."

Hot foods grow cold, succulent foods dry out, ice cream melts, cereals get soggy, vegetables wilt, and fruit turns brown.

Here are a few tricks the professionals use to overcome this problem:

- A quick burst of spray deodorant gives a nice frosting to a bunch of grapes.

- When photographing breakfast cereal, professionals use PVC wood glue (or white emulsion paint) instead of milk. The cereal flakes float on it and don’t go soggy.

- To make a glass of champagne look beautifully fizzy, add a pinch of powdered asprin.

- A roast chicken will look deliciously browned if brushed with old engine oil.

And here’s one freelance food photographer’s description of the process photographing lasagna, for a picture on the box...

Lasagna is a real pain to shoot. It just collapses. One way round this is to build up layers, using foam board about 5mm thick, cut slightly smaller than the layers of pasta. Once you've built up the layers you pipe in the meat and bechamel sauce around the edges, to hide the board. You brown the top layer of pasta with a blowtorch, and pour over fresh tomato sauce.

That's what intrigues me about photography.

It's an art form that captures everything from the gritty reality of war to a luscious lasagne (that's actually foam-filled), from a milk-drop coronet to the moon rising over Hernandez.


Lorraine said...

Although I never shoot food I find the techniques required quite fascinating. I love your last paragraph comparing the artform to the gritty reality of war. Made me laugh :)

Alistair Scott said...

Thanks Lorraine.

Glad you found the techniques fascinating (there are a lot more) but I didn't think I was 'comparing' so much as 'contrasting'. The great thing - to me - about photography is that it stretches across such a huge spectrum.