Good Food Blog
Food photographyPosted at 12:02PM, 23 April 2008 by Mary Cadogan - Food writer
I have worked as a food stylist for photographic shoots for over 30 years, both for magazines, on advertising campaigns and TV commercials. I am often asked if the food is real and what tricks I get up to. The short answer is that these days the food in magazines such as Good Food and Olive food is cooked for the camera as it would be in the home, the job of the food stylist being to shop for the best ingredients, cook the dish well and present it as appealingly as possible.
Drips, drizzles and sauces bubbling over the edge of dishes are good, adding greatly to the yum appeal. But it was not always so.
When I first started out as a freelance food stylist food wilted quickly under hot lights and the fashion was for perfection, so a mock up dish was often used for the photographer to work with, then this was whipped away at the last minute to be replaced by the perfect hero dish.
Raw potatoes were put in the bottom of dishes to ensure the meat and vegetables stayed above the surface of the liquid, chickens were steamed, then painted with a delicious mix of gravy browning and washing up liquid for that just-roasted look. For a finishing touch a tampon was first soaked in water, microwaved, then placed in the chicken to create a perfect steam effect.
Photographing burgers was the most challenging of assignments and often involved sticking sesame seeds onto buns using spray mount glue and painting char-grill lines with Marmite.
Perhaps some of this still happens in the world of advertising but what you see in the pages of your favourite food magazines is the real deal. Dishes are whipped out of the oven and shot without delay, salads tossed and snapped almost as they hit the plate and and slices of fruit pie captured on camera as the filling oozes out of the pastry.
This is food photography at its best and it still gives me a thrill and great satisfaction to be part of it.
And in case youÃ¢ÂÂre wondering about what happens to the food I can assure you that itÃ¢ÂÂs usually scoffed with relish by the team, or taken home for supper so nothing is wasted.