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News & Insight

Everyday Products to Enhance Your Food Photography

By fotosiamo on August 3rd 2012

Food styling class with Matt Armendariz of by Emily Cavalier

Food styling class with Matt Armendariz of by Emily Cavalier

If there is one thing about food photography that I know is that you are always working against the clock with perishable items. Vegetable wilts, grilled meat lose its shine, ice cream melts, and cereal gets soggy in milk. Photography is all about the visual and just like how we have hairstylists and make up artists to transform models for a shoot, sometimes the food needs a little enhancement to make them even more visually appealing in photographs.

PetaPixel compiled a great list of everyday household products that you can use to enhance your food photography. Some of what’s used is quite surprising, actually. Of course, using these products on the food render the food inedible, but that’s besides the point.

Here are some of my favorite ones from the list:

  • Motor oil is used as a replacement for dull-looking syrups due to the fact that it shines in the light.
  • Spray deodorant is used to make certain fruits (e.g. grapes) shine
  • Glycerin is coated onto seafood to make it look juicier. It can also be mixed with water to make longer-lasting drops.

    Can you get away with little or no touch ups when it comes to food photography? Of course you can. I shot the photo below with no touch ups. This was shot with an Einstein strobe and a 64″ parabolic light modifier umbrella. That said, as photographer who strives to the best image, I see the list from Peta Pixel’s article as indispensable. It’s just great to be have these extra set of tools in our belt to use.

    Cullinary Photography by Joe Gunawan |

    Cullinary Photography by Joe Gunawan |

    Here is a video of how food stylist Lisa Cherkasky prepare food for a photoshoot. She explains some of what she uses around the 3:30 mark

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    Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

    Q&A Discussions

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    1. Ed Rhodes


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    2. Anonymous

      I’d be interested in hearing about some go-to prop tips for food shoots- just an idea for future posts.

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