The Truth Behind Our Photo Shoots

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I am a liar. Day in and day out, I live lie on top of lie, tricking even my closest friends and family. The thing is, I’m never going to stop. I thrive off of it. That’s what I get for choosing to go into the profession of food and beverage photography. Every frame I create is made up of tricks to entice you. While I refuse to stop this kind of lifestyle, I admit that revealing a few secrets of mine would lift some of the guilt I feel on a daily basis. Join me as I walk you through the evil mind manipulation I am proud to call my job.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wow! What a gorgeous image. That basil garnish makes that drink look especially refreshing!” Just you wait, my friend. This is where the first lie can be found. That beautiful basil leaf? Spinach. I grabbed the nearest scissors in the office, the cleanest piece of spinach in the fridge, and began cutting away. This transformation wasn’t incredibly difficult, seeing as spinach is only a little rounder than basil. I’m surprised no
questions were asked as my co-workers walked into the kitchen to find me huddled in the corner with scissors in one hand and a protein-packed leaf in the other.
Before you start drooling too much over this apple julep, let me stop you. I can’t live knowing that you’re in front of your computer day dreaming about this autumnal masterpiece of a lie. When following the actual recipe, this apple julep gets its color and consistency from a mix of orange juice, apple juice, pineapple juice, white wine and rum. I didn’t have access to all of these materials in a time crunch, so I improvised. I opened the fridge, only to
be greeted by my coworker’s half eaten lunches. Tucked away was a bottle of OJ that had been forgotten about. Next to that? Vanilla iced coffee. A little water on top of that and bam. Perfect apple julep color and consistency. I cut up some apples to throw in as a garnish and created this fall AF still life. See those spooky grey twigs? That would be rosemary. I left a package out on my kitchen window sill for a week, which made them lose their color and healthy plant-like consistency. Whether or not that was on purpose isn’t important right now. Moving on.
This looks like a pretty straightforward image. It’s a nice still life of cute spooky knick-knacks to celebrate Halloween, sure, but the secret lies underneath the popcorn. In the food and beverage world of photo, I’ll admit a decent amount of treats get wasted. Different people’s hands are grabbing and posing the food to make it look picture perfect, but there’s no way anyone would want to eat that at the end of the day. Trying to minimize as much waste
as I can, if I’m ever filling a container with snacks, I’ll bunch up some paper towel at the bottom of the bowl. In this image, that dancing skeleton cup is ⅞ towel, ⅛ sprinkle of popcorn to make it look like a towering snack that’s ready to be devoured.
As you can see, this appears to be a simple glass of bubbly. If you’re able to pick up on patterns you would have already guessed that this is, in fact, not a simple glass of bubbly. I don’t have the luxury of popping bottles every other day just for kicks and photos. I could argue that waking up every day is all the reason we really need to celebrate, but I’m almost positive the office wouldn’t be having that. Instead, when I’m in need of a bubbly beverage,
my go to is old white wine topped with sparkling water. The trick to get those bubbles in action is to keep a stir stick around. Right before you press your shutter, give the drink a quick stir and watch it come to life! A fun fact I learned from our Bright Cellars Wine Director, is that champagne bubbles are smaller than those you would find in soda or sparkling water. If I’m ever photographing a bubbly drink up close I’ll go into Photoshop afterwards and shrink them down, just to make the image a little more accurate.
There you have it, four tricks of mine I use quite often to fool the eye. I have to leave it at four because, while it does feel good to get this off of my chest, I don’t want to reveal all of my secrets. Some of them are so outlandish and deceiving, you wouldn’t look at me the same. Tricks like these are used in almost every single food and beverage image or advertisement, so the next time you’re flipping through your favorite magazine or blog, keep in mind that you shouldn’t always believe what you see.
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