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Use food stylist techniques to add appeal to food shots

Added on Monday 9th of January 2012 08:44 am EST

by Jim Whitcomb

Operating System:



I work for a food prep publication, and am often asked to take food shots of dishes that require a whipped cream topping. When I photograph whipped cream, it usually looks flat and not all that tempting. How do you photograph whipped cream so it looks fresh?


Like fashion and sports photography, food photography is a specialty of its own. Those who concentrate on food shots typically have a customized studio designed specifically for food photography. Often the setup includes a food prep kitchen, a vast collection of tableware, flatware, accessories, and backgrounds. In addition, photographers many times use food stylists who manage the arrangement and look of the food in their setups.

That’s all well and good if that’s what you do full-time. But if not, you can still get a fabulous shot, as shown in Figure A, by using a number of the techniques stylists use to make the food in their shots so appealing. For our image, it involved some tricks for working with whipped toppings.





Whipped cream, like so many items in food photography is considered a fugitive substance. Its color, texture, and shape remain at its prime for only a few moments, and then begin to deteriorate. So in order to make use of that narrow time frame, you must develop a strategy. It’s one that begins with a test.


Perform a test

To start, mix up some hot cocoa, pour it in a cup, spray on some canned whipped cream, and watch what happens. Within a few seconds, the whipped cream begins to deflate and melt on the top of the hot cocoa. In addition, some of the whipped cream spray splashes around the rim of the cup and creates a messy looking composition. You could try to clean up the rim, but that would destroy the shape of the whipped cream topping.


Devise a strategy

To solve the problem, you need to think out of the box. For example:



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