The dirty secrets of professional food photographers

Table of Contents

Steamy food

How come the food is always so hot that you can almost feel the steam through your screen? Usually, microwaved cotton balls, microwaved sanitary pads and incense sticks are placed around the food to create the illusion of steam.

Pancakes and syrup


Syrup and pancakes usually make a soggy mix after a bit, so syrup is replaced with MOTOR OIL because it doesn’t soak into the pancakes.


Usually, photoshoots take longer than anticipated, and cooked turkeys and chickens can quickly become wrinkled. What photographers do is to use mostly raw meat painted with brown polish to give it the delicious-looking colour. Sometimes the wings are glued to the sides.

Cereals and milk

Most times, to avoid the cereals from getting soggy in the milk, the cereals are glued together and the milk is replaced with white glue.

Pie and cream

Whipped cream is usually used on top of pies and other pastry but to get the perfect shape might prove difficult. Hence, shaving cream is used to create the appetising cream cone and it doesn’t lose shape.


To give the white/frosty veneer to fruits like grapes and berries, food photographers make use of deodorant.

Ice cream



Ice cream doesn’t last due to its tendency to melt. Hence, many use mashed potatoes and colouring or corn syrup and shortening to create the cream look, hence, the fake ice cream can stay in the same shape for hours until the shoot is done.


To overplay the effervescence that beer gives, dish washing soup is usually poured into a glass before the beer is poured in.


Burgers hardly look the same as in the promotional pictures and there are lot of things involved. Whether it is foam to prop up the size of the burger or toothpicks to hold the burger in place or the blow torch to melt the sides of the cheese perfectly or oil to give the meat an inviting sheen, all of these give the burger that signature look that makes people want to order.

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