The biggest misconception of food styling is that everything is fake. We enhance the food more than fake it. You may not cook the turkey all the way through so that the skin is not wrinkled but it is a real turkey.
The hardest part of food styling is translating the client’s vision into the real thing. They could ask for the perfect burger that is a little bit messy, but they may think it just looks gross. It is a creative venture and translating that can be trial and error.
You can tell non-professional work in the details. The avocado may be cut incorrectly or placed on the sandwich incorrectly to read that it is an avocado.
You need a food stylist because when you are selling something it has to look appealing.
Food for camera versus food to eat is approached differently. You have to cook it completely. You can’t leave it out for hours. You can put glue in the wrap to hold it together. Culinary students can become good food stylists, but they have to unlearn a lot of their training. The first thing they learn is seasoning because they want the food to taste good, but seasoning breaks down the food and is not good for the camera so we leave it out.
While faking is not what we normally do, Ice cream is often baking soda and frosting for obvious reasons. Hot lights melt a frozen product. Some stylists specialize in just ice cream because it is so sensitive. Often we use weird things for adhesives…. like poly-grip. Normally I would adhere wraps with glue, but actors had to eat it. It is perfectly edible. We often use KY jelly to fix pepper on bacon.
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