10 Tricks That Make Food Look Good in Product Photos

It’s one thing to take pictures of your meal for your personal social media feed and another to make food look especially appetising in product photos. Unfortunately, food product photos cannot appeal to one’s sense of taste, touch, and smell, which means the only way to attract consumers is by appealing to their sense of sight.

To successfully convey the appeal of the food item to the target audience, many food photographers make use of tried-and-tested photography tricks.

Typical Food Replacements Used During Photoshoots

If you’re a budding food photographer yourself, remember that achieving that mouthwatering effect often involves more than just snapping a picture of the actual dish. To produce a photo that’s almost good enough to eat, start by searching for a “photo studio hire near me” online to find an ideal place where you can have complete control of the environment where your food photography will be taking place. At the same time, it’s a must to be aware of the common substitutions that seasoned food photographers use or make to create stunning photos that leave viewers hungry for more.

Here are some of the food items that typically need a stand-in during photoshoots. 

  • Ice Cream. Real ice cream tends to melt under hot lights, so photographers opt for coloured mashed potatoes that mimic the creamy texture of ice cream and offer greater stability during lengthy photoshoots.
  • Milk. White glue or soy milk often works as a substitute for  real dairy milk. These replacements prevent sogginess in cereal or dilution in coffee shots, ensuring a crisp and inviting appearance.
  • Beer Froth. Soap suds or shaving cream are able to maintain a frothy, fluffy look for longer, a quality that makes them suitable to use for taking photos of beer with a full head.
  • Pancake Syrup. Motor oil or corn syrup, when mixed with food colouring, mimics the viscosity and shine of real maple syrup. These liquids ensure a picture-perfect pour without the pancake absorbing the syrup within a few seconds.
  • Whipped Cream. Shaving cream or whipped cream stabiliser offers volume and stability, allowing whipped cream to stay fluffy longer. 
  • Meat Juices. Vegetable oil or a water and glycerin mixture preserves moisture and shine in meat substitutes, which then makes the said food items look juicier.
  • Fruit and Vegetables. Wax-coated or plastic versions of fruits and vegetables are more durable and consistent, so photographers prefer them over real fruits and veggies during photo shoots. 
  • Cheese. Craft foam or painted fabric substitutes offer stability and consistency to cheese shots and help ensure they won’t melt or tear over a long photo session. 

How to Take Good-Looking Food Photos

On top of knowing these photo-friendly alternatives to common food ingredients, it’s a must to have a good grasp of the fundamentals of food photography. It takes a bit of preparation to create pictures that seem like they’re good enough to eat. Below are some crucial tips you can apply for your upcoming food product photoshoot. 

Use Food Styling to Create an Appetising Imagery

Food styling is the art of arranging and presenting food to make them more visually appealing. It can mean arranging ingredients in an aesthetically pleasing pattern, or using herbs and sauces to garnish dishes and make them look irresistible. Pay attention to the colours, textures, and shapes of the food or beverage to create compelling compositions that entice viewers to indulge.

Play Up on Delicious Details with Proper Lighting

Lighting is one of the most critical aspects of food photography. Natural light can enhance the colours and textures of your dishes, while artificial lighting allows for more control over the intensity and direction of light. Experiment with different lighting setups to find the perfect balance that highlights the beauty of your food without casting harsh shadows or washing out colours.

Enhance Composition and Context with Props

Props such as utensils, plates, napkins, and garnishes like herbs or flowers can add depth and context to your food photos. Choose props that complement the style and theme of your dish, and arrange them strategically to enhance the composition of your photos. 

Understand the Importance of Fresh Ingredients

While photographers often use substitutes for fruits and vegetables, there’s also merit in using fresh, high-quality ingredients like herbs and spices for creating mouthwatering food photos. Whenever possible, source the freshest ingredients and showcase their natural beauty in your photos.

Handle the Food Preparation with Care

The way you prepare and cook your food can significantly impact its appearance in photos. Pay attention to cooking and presentation techniques to ensure that your dishes look as delicious as they taste. 

Remember the Finishing Touches

Experiment with different garnishes to find the perfect finishing touch that enhances the presentation of your food. Whether it’s a sprinkle of fresh parsley or a drizzle of balsamic glaze, garnishes can take your food photos to the next level.

Keep It Fresh by Controlling Temperature

Maintaining the optimal temperature of your food is crucial for preserving its appearance and texture during a photoshoot. Keep hot dishes hot and cold dishes cold to prevent melting, wilting, or drying out. Consider using props like ice packs or warming trays to help control the temperature of your food and ensure that it looks fresh and inviting in your photos.

Add Shine and Freshness with Food Sprays

Food sprays can be used to enhance the appearance of certain foods and ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, or beverages, by adding a hint of shine or condensation. Experiment with different food sprays to find the perfect finish for your dishes. 

Perfect the Finer Details Using Editing Software

Post-processing can help polish your photos and make them truly shine. Use editing software to adjust colours, remove imperfections, and enhance the overall composition of your images. 

Use Styling Tools to Fine-Tune the Presentation

Tools like tweezers, brushes, and spray bottles can be invaluable for fine-tuning the presentation of your dishes during a photoshoot. Use tweezers to adjust individual elements, brushes to add subtle accents, and spray bottles to control the placement of sauces or garnishes. 

With enough practice and by incorporating these tips and tricks into your food photography workflow, you’ll be well on your way to capturing stunning images that showcase the beauty and deliciousness of various culinary creations.

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