Every now and then a video seems to explode over YouTube. More recently this has been the food styling hacks tutorials. Here are some myth busting facts.
Having worked in the food photography industry for a number of years shooting everything from a local cafe to world wide print campaigns for major brands, almost everyone I know sends me videos about styling hacks. From the obscure to the obscene, most of the ideas presented in the videos are completely false. Although I am pretty impressed that someone has taken the time to think them up and then to execute them. Food styling and styling in general is nothing new. Almost every form of photography has a stylist involved in one way or another.
There are those who specialize in fashion, set styling, prop sourcing, and pretty much anything that can be taken to a shoot. Thinking that the photographer is solely responsible for an image couldn't be further from the truth. However, the food industry takes a lot of flak for the styling. This seems to be predominantly due to the images in fast food restaurants that look amazing in comparison to the limp food they serve. Although this is true for pretty much anything. If I were to dress myself in Gucci, I wouldn't look anything like the people in the adverts (unfortunately for both my partner and I.)
There are a lot of laws in advertisement both for stills and moving images and especially with regards to food. Although you could copy some of these ideas (it might make a cool photo essay), most of them wouldn't pass the regulations in the UK or US to make it to print. I am also pretty sure that none of these have ever been used. The old claims of tampons for steam when cotton wool would clearly do the same thing are mostly there just to add interest and shock value.
In this video, I go over my experience of food photography styling and what actually goes into getting the shot as well as looking at how obscene some of these suggestions actually are.