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Food is getting really pretty.

I’m sure that many of you have noticed or have been informed that the media, particularly in the realm of advertisement, does not represent standards that are found in reality. Models being photoshopped to be thinner, people without a single blemish, and products that are much brighter or appear differently in their photos than they do in actuality. I noticed this very harshly last week when I ordered a meal that I saw pictured in a menu, and had it come back to me meeting quite below my expectations and standards. This made me think of how food photography manipulates reality just as much as the advertisements of Victoria Secret models. 

Food photography is a production. Hard core. Professional food photography is a collaborative effort, usually involving an art director, a food stylist, a prop stylist and their assistants. Being a professional food stylist: that would be interesting to talk about at parties. 

According to the source of infinite knowledge, food stylists use numerous techniques to make appear the food as attractive as possible in addition to choosing, preparing and composing plated food. 

  • creating steam with cool air nebulizers or a combination of chemicals that give off smoke that gives the appearance of steam;
  • spraying food with water or mixtures of water, corn syrup, or other liquids to keep food looking fresh;
  • making a mixture of solid shortening, corn syrup, and powdered sugar (essentially a very stiff frosting) that can be scooped to simulate real ice cream;
  • using a variety of browning agents (usually mixtures used to brown gravies or sometimes heat activated liquids used in commercial bakeries) to enhance the color/brownness of cooked meats and poultry;
  • using heavy cream instead of milk in bowls of cereal to prevent flakes from becoming soggy too quickly. The use of white glue is generally discouraged, and is not usually encountered. (as most cereal companies prohibit this practice).
  • blanching green vegetables to just bring up their bright color, rather than cooking them completely. Other vegetables and foods may be cooked just to color, so they do not brown or become wrinkled if they must stand under the camera for a while.
  • adding water to beverages so light will filter through better and add sparkle to the drink.

Pretty intense. But it’s so true. When I take a picture of even the most delicious food, it looks like this. 

It’s fish, veggies, and sweet potato fries. It’s delicious, but it’s just not the same:


I find it very interesting while being pretty silly the effort, but demand that food photography and “food porn” has risen to. Food porn is a glamorized / spectaular visual presentation of cooking and eating. It gets treated with similar production and set-up as fashion photography and actual pornographic photography. Food too is airbrushed and crush hopes and dreams. It has come to where it receives the same artistry that other categories of photography require. But just remember that next time you see an advertisement for a cheeseburger, it won’t quite be the same

Oh. The glamour. 

Photos and videos found on here

-Emily Dubovoy