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8 tips for taking great food photos

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on July 31, 2013, 10:41 a.m.
food photography, when to use fake food

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

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Sometimes fake food works better

My last tip is this: Sometimes it's better to use "staged" food instead of a real dish to make something look good. For dishes that only look appealing when they're hot off a grill or fresh out of the oven, it might be better to fake your way through the shoot. For instance, while you would serve a soup hot, you might want to photograph it cold. It may then be thicker, so it holds up a bit of garnish better, or doesn't wilt fresh garnish so it buys you time to get the shots you need.

Speaking of time, a smart strategy used by some photographers working on images of ice cream is using mashed potatoes! It avoids the whole problem of ice cream melting in the middle of a shoot. Of course, sometimes melty ice cream is exactly what you're looking for. This "faking it" strategy might also take the form of not following a recipe exactly, in order to make the plated food look better. For instance, instead of dressing a salad, leave the dressing off and spritz it with a bit of olive oil so that it shimmers like it would with dressing but doesn't wilt nearly as quickly. Think about how a dish would look its best, and what you might need to change about a recipe — or the food itself — to get that effect.