Check Out These Secrets Photographers Use to Make Food Look Awesome

Any burger advertisement makes it seem like, for just a couple of bucks, you’ll get a juicy stack of meat piled high with vegetables on a crisp bun. Reality never meets expectations, of course, and so, if you’re wondering why your limp burger with wilted vegetables never looks like that advertisement, this video will show you why.

From Blossom, this video takes a look at the little secrets photographers use to get food looking just right for the big day. While the food looks delicious in these shoots, you probably wouldn't want to eat any of it. For instance, while in the video, the pancake syrup looks absolutely stunning, you’ll be more stunned to find out that it actually isn’t syrup at all. Motor oil is used because it looks better and doesn't get absorbed by the pancakes.

Other tips involve adding more inedible substances to the mix: glue on top of Jell-O to make cereal that appears to magically float on top of the “milk” and dish soap in just about everything. And you’ll definitely not want to eat that Thanksgiving turkey in the photo, even though it looks delicious.

In this YouTube version of the video that’s been making the rounds on Facebook, there’s an added several minutes about hacks to make your own food faster, and so if you’re feeling a little hungry after watching these tips, you can probably figure out dinner from the tail end of the video.

Of course, there are alternative ways to get a perfect pour using real syrup and some (slightly) more edible ways to go about food photography, in case your company’s lawyers aren't all about the fakery. You can check those out in this other video from photographer Skyler Burt.

Do you have a food photography hack? Share it in the comments below.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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I could be wrong but- isn't it considered illegal to use motor oil (or any other foreign substance) as a food substitute in advertising?

I thought that as well. I instantly thought about the toxic smells in the room. Yuck!

I believe in the US and Canada the law is that everything used must be edible.

This is what I thought too.

No (at least not in the EU). What is considered unethical in the industry is to replace the product being specifically sold with a substitute. e.g. for an ice cream commercial you use real ice cream, but if you are doing a cake commercial and there is ice cream on it then is ok to use fake ice cream.

Pretty interesting video. Some of these are just cooking diy in general. I was hoping for more specific techniques on food photography. Started out what what I had in mind. Still a good video.

Yeah I thought it was odd - if you look at the Blossom Facebook page, you can see just the photography tips, but for some reason the YouTube version is extended with cooking tips. Don't know why.

Great video I love it! Especially wooden holder for wine and glasses of wine :))

I like the trick to open the bottle of wine with a shoe!
But, will it work with Champagne?? :D

Why doing food photography if you cannot eat it once is done ?

I have made food photography for years, and I never eat something I have photographed…
Why, I let you guess why :D

Still, they utilized stock footage of steam/smoke behind the baked potato @2:36 in the video.

The smoke changes to the real deal after the potato is picked up though.

The trick still applies though, but it is a very "cheaty" way to show it I feel.

That turkey looked nasty AF, give me the real thing!