The food you shoot is fake right?

Turkey dinner

Whenever I tell people I am a food photographer I usually get this response ” the food is fake right, you use glue for milk and plastic food?”  While we do use tricks to make the food stand up and look pretty most of the time the food is 100% real.  The turkey in the shot above is really a turkey. It is cooked by a professional “Food Stylist” so that it looks great. There are pins in it to prop up the wings, crazy  glue to bind flesh and it’s practically raw, but it’s a real turkey. The rule is if it’s on set don’t eat it.

My job and the job of my team is to make food look good. There are guidelines I have to follow if I am shooting a specific brand. For instance , if I am shooting ice cream I actually have to use that specific product and represent it truthfully.

Recently I received a call from my contact at a very large company (I can’t reveal the client but lets just say it’s the biggest company in the world). I was working on a rebranding assignment for their house brand products. My contact started questioning me about the product used in one of the lines I was handling.  Eventually I asked what it was all about and she explained that the manufacturer doubted we used his actual product because it looked too good. In his opinion we had to have used someone else’s stuff. I laughed and considered it a great compliment. After all that is really my entire job description to make food look better than it’s supposed to.

Of course I could not do what I do without a really dedicated and highly skilled team. My food stylists are amazing people who really are artists. They take a subject matter which is very difficult and do an inspiring job. My job is to light, compose and execute the shot using depth of field and other photo techniques.

The next time you see a photo of McDonalds meal know that it’s real. Someone went through several hundred burgers, buns and bags of fries to find the perfect ones. Then a photographer used a very expensive camera to bring out the detail, lit it and made it look amazing. Obviously when you order a meal in McDonalds it looks like crap but  it tastes good. My job is to get you to order it.

PS  We do use glue for milk in cereal but that an exception to the rule. Generally the food we shoot is real, just don’t eat it.

Cereal with glue for milk

About Bill Brady Food Photographer

I am an accomplished food and beverage photographer. Having managed to combine my 2 great passions food and photography into a career has been an absolute joy. I spend my time creating food images not only for a living but for my audience. It's a labor of love for me. Recently I have teamed up with a group of very talented people to launch an online Magazine called Heat Magazine. A magazine about all foods spicy. Enjoy
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12 Responses to The food you shoot is fake right?

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Ha – I love the caption for the cereal!

    Great post. It sounds like you’ve got an awesome job!

  2. Very interesting and amusing subject. I read with great pleasure.

  3. Thank you for the post. It’s very interesting. I do have a question for you about post-processing. What do you think about it? Is it wrong to use software to make your photos better? I know you’re a professional food photographer. However, I’m jsu curious whether real food photographers do post production or not. Thanks!

  4. G says:

    Cool! What a neat job!

  5. Memoria says:

    Too cool!! I would love to be a food stylist and photographer. I wonder how one could go about being one.

    Thank you for this post; it was very interesting. I love how the milk started looking more like glue ONLY after you said what it was haha.

    • billbrady says:

      Food styling like photography requires no set path. Some stylists were chefs, went to culinary school first then became food stylists.
      Others were foodies that just made it happen. The quickest way to become a food stylist is to work for one as an assistant.
      There are big jobs that require a lot of prep work. It’s like being an apprentice.

      If you want to be a food stylist go to my website at the bottom of the home page there is a list of food stylists. Hint you have to scroll way down past the images. Find ones in your area and call them up. See if they will hire you as a second or third assistant.

  6. vanillasugar says:

    so glad i saw your post on tastespotting…love your blog, i really do…
    anyway you might know how to ‘curve’ your words when adding watermark text?

    • billbrady says:

      Are you asking how to warp text? If so use the type tool in photoshop. Select the type tool a box should appear on the upper tool bar called Warp text. It gives you a bunch of options.

  7. I did like the article really much, was really informative and the best part was that only the required part was elaborated, to the point concise information always helps and keeps readers running around digging for the information’s will never require a reread. I really wish spammers read these articles and check how easy it is to be human and respect knowledge.

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