Hot, Savory, and…Hairspray?

Food has taken a turn from delicious to a main source of marketing material.

Social Media has changed the way we view food as any amateur photographer can take a picture of professional quality and post it for all to see. This kind of business is marvelous for restaurants, stores, and farmers, but it’s also a tough change.

Nowadays those who sell food can’t simply throw a burger on a plate and walk away no matter how good it tastes. SunSpin’s Marketing Media Coordinator, Brittany Maxwell, makes the point, “imagery is everything in food marketing. When you pair visually appealing food with catchy phrases, music, and ideas the viewer will remember and be more likely to buy your brand.”

SunSpin Media has come up with a few pointers in terms of photographing food and how to properly market your product.

Real Food Photography

When photographing food it’s great if you can use the real thing – especially for a restaurant. If you’re able to do this then it’s important to set your workspace up ahead of time

Set up your lights, scene, and camera before you even think about the food. Food degrades over time and within an hour it will be wilted, cold, or soggy. Using a filler object of approximate size and reflectivity will let you adjust the lighting and camera effectively so once the food is out finishing the final artistic touch is your main concern.

We say it’s good to use the real thing – especially if you’re marketing for a restaurant, store, or a farm, but sometimes this isn’t possible.

Fake Food Photography

Many photography industries that specialize in food utilize a food stylist. These individuals use tweezers, glue, hairspray, and raw cold food to get the desired effect of that just-out-of-the-oven meal. It’s a tricky painstaking business trying to make something look both perfect and natural.

The soup below most likely has a smaller bowl underneath so the mushrooms can be ‘rested’ on the surface. Without the bowl this effect isn’t possible!

Similarly hairspray is used to create a matte effect on fruit. Wet cotton balls are heated in a microwave and placed behind food for a hot steamy look. Cardboard is jammed between layers of food so they stay tight and don’t grow soggy. Everyone’s favorite dollop of whip cream is actually shaving cream. Completely inedible, but it provides the perfect effect.

Half and Half

For certain types of film and advertising companies SunSpin’s Junior Marketing Media Coordinator, Lauren Antkowiak, says videographers, “will use a mix of fake food and real food throughout filming. This is used in particular for a step by step videos. You can’t always film everything in one day and even if you did not everything you cook comes out picture perfect.” A lot of the final products seen in videos are ‘fake food’ meaning it’s still raw or has been manipulated to look its absolute best. An example is painting a turkey so it looks perfectly brown. The inside of the turkey would be raw and the stylist is using watered down paint or something else inedible to make it perfect looking.

When they’re making the batter for a recipe it might very well be real as all the ingredients can be thrown in as needed and filmed without much of a time aspect. You may have several stations set up so you can take several shots of this process until your film is perfect, but the food will generally be real. Marketing

Nowadays with social media sites like Instagram, professional food photographs have to go above and beyond the amateur aspect. Likewise businesses are finding they need professional photographers for refreshing menu items, advertising new dishes, and demonstrating their style for branding purposes.

Visually appealing food is more important than ever in this industry. Your food has to tell a story when it’s on the plate in front of the customer and in the photograph that’s tempting them with delicious morsels. Neither side can slack off in order to stay ahead of the mainstream Foodie’s on Social Media.

If you’re looking to refresh your menu with delicious ideas check out SunSpin Media’s website. Our staff is highly qualified to take breathtaking photos of your desserts, entrees, and appetizers. Let us bring your menu back to life.