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8 Tricks Photographers Use to Make Foods and Drinks Look Better

You will be surprised to find out how photos of foods and drinks get to look picture perfect.

By Margaret MinnicksPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2021

It is the job of food photographers to make their photos look good. They can make their pictures look perfect by using some tricks of their trade. It is completely legal to do so because they are advertising the food with the picture and not the meal itself.

I was standing behind a customer at Taco Bell, and she held up the line for several minutes while she complained that her meal did not look like the picture on the wall. She thought it should have been the exact replica of the photo.

Let's examine some of the tricks food photographers use to get you to purchase real items.

1. Motor Oil on Pancakes

Photo Credit: svariophoto via Shutterstock

Doesn't that stack of pancakes with a stream of maple syrup look tasty? You might agree that the photo looks tasty enough to make you want to dig right in and eat the pancakes. However, that is not maple syrup you see.

Pancakes usually soak up most liquids you pour on them in just a few seconds. Therefore, photographers use motor oil because of the color and consistency that appear to look like rich maple syrup, but it won’t soak into the stack of pancakes.

Photographers also add thin layers of cardboard between pancakes to support the stack and make it appear taller and look fluffier.

2. Glue in Cheese Pizza

Photo Credit: Hans Geel/Shutterstock

There is a reason the cheese is stretching in the photo shown above. Don't complain if your cheese pizza doesn't look like that when you order one. Some cheese does stretch when it has melted, but every slice you lift won't have stringy cheese.

Photographers mix regular white craft glue with a small amount of cheese. The mixture can then be applied to the sides of a pre-sliced piece of pizza, and the slice is slotted back into the pie. The glue and cheese mixture stretches and the slice looks like it is coming from a natural cheese pizza.

3. Hairspray or Deodorant on Fruit

Photo Credit: Kenishirotie via Shutterstock

Customers tend to purchase shiny fruit instead of dull fruit. Therefore, apples, pears, strawberries, plums, and other fruits are given a shiny look with either hairspray or deodorant and advertised that way.

Keep in mind that this is done for the commercial shoot and not on the fruits you actually purchase from the farmer's market or your local grocery store.

4. Melted Wax in Sauces

Photo Credit: Shebeko /DEPOSITPHOTOS.COM

Those spoons contain more than sauces. What people might not know is that the sauces are mixed with colored wax to make them look that way. The mixture also keeps the sauce in place with no chance of moving while being photographed.

5. Cardboard Between Cake Layers

Photo Credit: Penguin/Shutterstock

In order for multi-tiered cakes to look tall and tasty in advertisements and commercials, they need some help. Photographers and advertisers know exactly how to make any cake look perfect in pictures. They add a thin piece of cardboard between layers just as they do in stacks of pancakes.

The cardboard makes the cake look full and fluffy, but it can't be seen after the cake is frosted.

6. Shaving Cream As Whipped Cream

Photo Credit: Marie C. Fields via Shutterstock

What's on top of that slice of pumpkin piece looks like it is whipped cream, but it is not. Whipped cream runs and drips when it warms up. Therefore, the photographer used a dollop of shaving cream on top of the slice of pie to make it look good in the photo.

Shaving cream keeps the pie from looking like a soggy mess because shaving cream won’t run under hot lights. It stays put in a perfect dollop for as long as an advertiser needs it to for a photograph or commercial.

7. Mashed Potatoes Posing As Ice Cream

Photo Credit: Eva Orlova via Shutterstock

Would you like a scoop of the vanilla ice cream seen in the photo above? If so, you would really get a scoop of mashed potatoes because that's what is in the tub. Perfect scoops of ice cream are hard to come by. That's why photographers use mashed potatoes instead.

Ice cream, like whipped cream, melts quickly under the warmth of the photographer's light. Mashed potatoes stay put while looking just like a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream. Food coloring is used for a variety of other flavors. Photographers simply drop food coloring into the mashed potatoes whenever they want to photograph a different flavor.

8. Liquid Soap as Suds in Beer

Photo Credit: Viiviien via Shutterstock

Nobody likes flat beer, and a photo without foam at the top is not appealing. Therefore, photographers came up with a trick to make perfect foam at the top of every glass of beer they photograph.

Because foam on beer dissipates quickly, photographers drop a little liquid soap into the bottom of glasses before pouring in beer. Then they can capture a good-looking picture of a glass of beer with perfect long-lasting foam.


About the Creator

Margaret Minnicks

Margaret Minnicks shares articles with readers all over the world. Topics include celebrities, royal family, movies, television, foods, drinks, health issues, and other interesting things. Thanks in advance for TIPS that are sent my way.

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    Margaret MinnicksWritten by Margaret Minnicks

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