A tasty burger, ice cream or cold drink has been coveted more than once after seeing them in commercials. But then comes the disappointment when we realize that the real product is not what we were shown. The secret of this deception is called food styling, and it is a technique used by photographers to let us taste it through our eyes.
There are a lot of tricks and time spent showing the best versions of food or drink in commercials, and we want to reveal some of them.
1. Burgers are filled with sponges and toothpicks.
Burger lovers (opening image) know full well that they look big and mouthwatering in commercials, but the reality is very different.
To make them look good, one of the techniques used is to melt the cheese with something that gives it heat, such as a hair dryer. They also put sponges on the burgers to give it more height and use toothpicks to hold the ingredients in place. The finishing touch is the oil, which creates the illusion that the meat is juicy and freshly cooked.
2. Ice cream is actually mashed potatoes and hair conditioner.
Ice cream can be one of the most stressful foods to photograph, as it falls apart before finding the perfect shot! But to avoid melting away from anger, professional photographers found a way to work with it while on duty: the ice cream is replaced with mashed potatoes mixed with conditioner and dye, which makes it look real. And especially? It does not melt.
4. The pancakes are filled with cardboard and the syrup is motor oil.
Pancakes require both sweet and savory preparations. The secret to making them so appetizing in promotional photos is adding cardboard discs between each so that the tower has more height. Motor oil is also poured in so that food doesn’t absorb it as it does regular syrup and looks radiant throughout the entire photo shoot.
5. A refreshing drink often has fake ice in it.
Photographing food is not a quick task, as finding the perfect shot and capturing all the details in the best way takes many hours and dedication. But meals of course don’t have much time, for example the ice in drinks melts within minutes. Therefore, it is recommended to use prop ice cubes to avoid this problem.
A tasty baked chicken is always tempting, and commercial images make sure we notice it. A food stylist showed us how to get those 100% attractive chickens.
First, he dried the raw food with napkins, removing any liquid that the skin might have so he could get a crunchy effect later on. Then she filled it with napkins to give it more volume and to make it look less thin as it really was. Then he closed his holes with needles, attached the wings to the body and tied his legs together. Later, she took it to the oven so that it began to have a brownish texture. Finally, she mixed the detergent with the dye and painted the chicken with this solution to get a bright golden color.
7. Whipped cream replaced with shaving cream.
A few drinks or cream pie slices are always a good idea, but both are very perishable in the refrigerator, let alone in a photo studio.
To avoid having the bad experience of having it fall apart or melt under the camera and studio lights, a graphics center recommends using shaving cream instead of real cream, as it looks better visual and is more durable.
In real life, grilled food can be perfect in taste, but hardly attractive in appearance. But in the world of food styling, perfectly symmetrical grid lines can be achieved. According to a food stylist, use a clean, oiled grill and set the heat to maximum so that the marks are more intense.
If the food is already cooked but the lines aren’t attractive enough for a magazine plate, stylists take out their secret weapon and mark their products with a charcoal lighter or hot metal rod to resemble the model they the grill should naturally give.
9. The coffee foam is made with the milk and cream powder technique.
On cold days, there is nothing more pleasant than a good coffee in the cafeteria. Even if we try to replicate it in our homes, it probably won’t look like the one prepared by a bartender, but food stylists can get very close. One of them explained how he does it.
First, make instant coffee as it is faster and cheaper than coffee beans served in bars. Then add milk and liquid cream to give it a thicker consistency. It also adds chocolate syrup to enhance its color; and to get the foam, he puts this dairy product and the whipped cream powder into a milk frother, which acts as a better foam stabilizer so it doesn’t dissolve as quickly.
10. The color of the berries is perfected with lipstick.
Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are as tasty as they are attractive, but they always look much brighter in commercials than when we buy them in the supermarket. The secret ? Nothing more and nothing less than lipstick is used to cover white spots or any imperfections that the product may have.
11. Fruits are sprinkled with water and glycerin to make them look fresh.
The fresher a fruit or vegetable is, the healthier and more appetizing it will appear. To achieve this, photographers often mix 50% water and 50% glycerin in a spray bottle and apply the mixture to fruits and vegetables. The latter element is used so that the drops do not evaporate quickly. In fact, they remain intact until you wash them.
Although commercial photos of milk bowls can be attractive with their cereals and fruit, the reality is that you will be far from wanting to eat any of them.
A photographer showed the most normal trick used to portray this food, which consists, first of all, in making a simple dough of flour and water as a base to fill the bowl. Then add white glue in place of the milk so the grains don’t sink and stick, giving the photographer more time to find the perfect shot.
What is a food you saw in an ad that let you down in real life?