People are always asking me, “Do you shoot fake food?”
These days, there isn’t as much of a need to use artificial elements to make food look more appealing. This is partially because the style of food photography has changed, because of flash photography and because of the wonderful invention of DIGITAL. Food photography styling is heading more towards relaxed, sometimes purposefully messy. I think it’s because people like to imagine eating what they see, and eating the PERFECT bowl of pudding is unlikely. Also, food used to be shot with hotlights and a 4×5 camera. It was hard to get food to stay looking good for the painstaking process, so fake food sometimes had to be substituted just to get the shot. And of course, there’s digital. It used to be everything had to be perfect before the photo was taken, because little could be done after the fact. Now, so many things can be made perfect through multiple exposures, digital compositing, and the wonderful clone tool.
You may ask, “Why retouch it when you can fix it in camera?” Well, in this case, a few reasons. One, I was in a hurry. I had one hour before I HAD to leave the studio. I’d made the pudding the night before, and I knew how I wanted to shoot it, but I had little time to put it all together and produce the perfect shot. Two, I am not a food stylist. I get by just fine, but it’s not my area of expertise. So I shot the lumpy pudding and fixed the imperfections in Photoshop, vs. painstakingly straining the pudding and picking out lumps. I don’t own a strainer.
So here’s what I did in Photoshop. I adjusted the color, combined the depth of field shots, darkened the pudding, removed the lumps, made the swirls more even, used a lighter exposure for the bowls, switched the whisk with a better shot, removed some of the blue cast on the bowls, and straightened the fabric in the back and warped the front corner to look straight. (I did iron the fabric, but didn’t have time to wash the crease out of it.)
To see the photos flip back and forth, go to this link: