Faux Food Photos

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Grampy
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2003/11/14 13:42:02 (permalink)

Faux Food Photos

“Why doesn’t my finished dish look like the picture in the cookbook?”

While we are not likely to hear this question posed while strolling along the Rue de la Paix in Paris, we are all familiar with it. You stare at a photo in a cookbook, and then back at the recipe. “Scallions” you say, “definitely sliced scallions.” Scallions,” the recipe doesn’t say. The recipe calls for shallots. Perhaps I do take my scallions and shallots more seriously than the average Home Ec major, and this may appear to be just another severe case of nit-picking, but scallions are only the tip of the iceberg lettuce in this silent conspiracy. I have happened upon photographic additions and subtractions of peas, pine nuts, olives, endive, arugula, sliced lemons, kiwi fruit, caviar, mussels, and more -- all of which, I assure you, may have an adverse impact upon a recipe as well as the home cook. Rather than take umbrage to such liberties, I have chosen to turn it into a game. Like a kid looking for hidden objects in a Highlights magazine, I look for discrepancies between photos and recipes.

Here are just three things I’ve seen: In the new Winning Styles Cookbook -- exquisite grill marks on a rib-eye that is clearly indicated in the recipe to be sautéed in a heavy pan. Readers of the Woman’s Day Cookbook may wonder where the photographer purchased the speckled herbed cheese, in lieu of the called for plain feta, in the Greek Pasta Salad. In Jean-Pierre Brehier Beef Stew “My Way,” in his Incredible Cooking, he did not count on the photographer adding large, whole mushrooms, thus making it “his way.” Stylists and photographers apparently have their own agenda, and I would love to hear of anyone who has glaring examples that they have found.
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    Howard Baratz
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 16:18:22 (permalink)
    I had a friend who used to do casting for TV commercials. One time a client requested that he find a bunch of "regular-looking" people to audition for a certain spot.
    When the the advertiser got a look at these folks he deemd them way too ugly and explained to my friend that he wanted attractive regular people not actual regular people.
    #2
    BigGlenn
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 16:33:50 (permalink)
    Since a lot of restaurants have a problem presenting their food as it "Appears" in the menu. Maybe we should hand them money that "Appears" to look like real money. Just a Thought?
    #3
    Cosmos
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 17:54:30 (permalink)
    You should look for the tiny print that says "suggested serving". Food photographers or "food stylists" and the tricks of their trade make an interesting story...how to make old, cold food look appetizing. Vasilene plays a big part. After all, have you ever seen a Big Mac look like the photos on the menu? Or those Chinese restaurant-lighted menu boards, my take-out food never looks like that.
    #4
    EdSails
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 19:01:59 (permalink)
    There have been several interesting articles over the years in the food magazines about this topic. It just seems that if they photographed the food the way it looked------it wouldn't be too aqppealing. Couple that with ice cream etc. melting under the hot lights, food sitting for an hour until they get the right angle etc. and it seems food photos are much harder then we would think. As another post mentioned also-----vaseline to make foods glisten, food dye to bring back colors------I guess it's just an illusion........
    #5
    Grampy
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 19:48:57 (permalink)
    I have worked with several food stylists, and I have no cant with them using mascara for grill marks, or WD 40 for a glazed look, but it irks me when a recipe calls for sausage removed from the casing, and the accompanying photo shows sliced sausage. Or the food stylist decides that sliced bok choy in a recipe looks better whole. True, most turkeys in photos are tossed right after the shoot (photo, that is), because they were never cooked properly, but when a recipe clearly indicates that chop mushrooms, and they appear whole in the picture, something is wrong. Obviously the stylist cares more for his or her image than the accuracy of the dish. Full-frontal "foodity" I call it.
    #6
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Faux Food Photos 2003/11/14 20:50:57 (permalink)
    At one time I considered becoming a food stylist & even went so far as to study with a couple of professionls. It was amazing. What you can do depends on what you are selling. If it is a Big Mac, you can only show things that can be found on a Big Mac, granted the quality will probaly be better than you'd ever find in a Micky D's but they must be the same ingrediants. If you want to sell fudge sauce, the sauce is the real thing but the ice cream will probably be spackle. When scooped it looks just like ice cream & it doesn't melt! As far as food to illustrate a cook book - paints, oils, branding irons, undercooked food, plastic ice cubes, food color, fake food - whatever it takes to make it look good, goes. Ah yes, Madison Avenue & the truth in advertising!
    #7
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