Cheeps from Hunter-McMain

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Photographer’s Tricks for Advertising

Business Tips and Trends

Long ago, I was art directing a photo shoot for a local grocery store for the Labor Day newspaper insert ads. The photo was set-up for grilling, to advertise the store’s wonderful steak selection. The photographer we used, brought along a food stylist. She had already grilled the steaks and set up a small Weber grill and a background canvas to make the conference room look like the outdoors. She used an old round curling iron to make the effects of the grill burn marks on the cooked steak. She arranged the Weber with charcoal briquettes. It was then, she realized, the photo wouldn’t look right with briquettes being black and unlit. She asked me to use my bright orange, yellow and red color pencils to color them and then took off down the hall for anyone who smoked to meet in the conference room. Several puffing employees at the ad agency, dispensed their ashes onto the briquettes and voila— they looked hot and so real!

Other tricks photographers use for food advertising are:

  • Heat up a wet cotton ball in the microwave is the classic “tricks” for steam shots.
  • When photographing ice cream, many food stylists use mashed potatoes to avoid a melting mess.
  • Instead of milk, photographers use glue in those cereal bowls.
  • A touch of Vaseline can add tremendous glaze to fowl, fish and meat.
  • Drinks looks freshly poured by adding a few drops of dish soap bubbles on the surface.
  • Pancakes are topped with 10W-30 oil, instead of syrup and spraying fabric protector keeps it from absorbing.
  • Polident is used to make food stick to the plate.

In case you haven’t noticed:

  • Many of the weight loss before and after pictures are simply ‘Photoshopped.” Squeeze photos in and spray on tans make for an incredible weight loss in just a few minutes.
  • Decorators like to use a pop of color to accent a room with the same hues. I have seen quite a few fruit or lemon bowls added to an ordinary room.
  • Decorators also use branches and tall blooms to create height.

Click here to check out Katie, a food stylist blogger, who works for a food magazine. She has a list of her favorite food stylist tools.


Photo credit: Brianne Makin, photographer of Edible art Denise Vivaldo’s tool box for food styling.

Author: The Cheeps

"The Cheeps" are the chick designers that run Cheep Cheep Postcards and Cheep Cheep Websites, two divisions of Hunter-McMain, Inc. We're here to provide fun information on advertising design, business tips, and holidays--sometimes random--we would like to celebrate with you.

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