Food Styling: Debunking a few myths

Whenever I mention I’m a food stylist, I’m guaranteed to be asked a few of the same questions, ” is it true you spray vanish on the food ?” Or ” do you really paint the food with glycerin?” And my all time favourite ” do you use mash potato for ice cream ”
And always, always ” do you get to eat the food afterwards”

Sigh.

I usually just say it’s urban legend, and try change the subject.

On a good day I will go to great lengths to explain how stuff like this might have been done in the past ( like way back in the 80’s) but for the most part it’s not true.

Today’s a good day, so here goes.


Photoshop and digital enhancement and/or manipulation have forever changed the landscape of photography. That being said,and most importantly, whether for editorial or advertising purposes the food being photographed still needs to maintain a degree of authenticity and accuracy.

The question about enhancing the food to look as good as possible, often leads to the next question ” why doesn’t my burger look like the one on the billboard/ menu board? ” isn’t this false advertising ?
In my opinion no, it’s not !
When you go for a job interview, you get dressed up, you put on your best suit or dress, you do your hair and make up, you practice your winning smile in the mirror and inflict your voice with a friendly,cheery tone.
Once you have the job, you might not go to the same lengths to impress your boss with your appearance .
Did you misrepresent yourself or were you just ” putting your best foot / or face forward ” you can still do your job without any of the “add-ons”
I don’t always go to the trouble to put on make up, or style my hair. But my clothes are clean ( for the most part – if the 4 year old didn’t grab me with mucky hands) my teeth are brushed and I’m wearing deo. None of these things affect my ability to do my job.
Same for the burger.
Not always ” made up ” to look it’s best, but all the same ingredients are there, in the correct order, and doing his ” job” which is too fulfill your hunger.
So no, we ( food stylists, photographers, or the photoshop retoucher guy ) are not lying, misleading or tricking you when we present and portray the product in a particular way.

So how about this beautiful autumn weather then ? *changes subject* wink

About Taryne Jakobi

Hi, I am Taryne, a Johannesburg ( South Africa) based food stylist, specialising in Food and Decor Styling for magazines, recipe books, and television. A lover of food, flowers and beautiful things, this blog is my window to the world... welcome !

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