Cardboard With Your Pancakes?

You have probably noticed, even if only unconsciously, that prepared food never really looks like it does on the package. You sometimes see rather jarring examples of this in various online forums, where the sorry looking burger or fish sandwich from XYZ company is compared to the advertised version.

That's because most businesses employ a "food stylist" to assist the photographer in making the product look as good as it possibly can. That's the same reason you sometimes see ghastly-looking sample photos in a local restaurant (because someone at the restaurant just snapped a plate of food on their iPhone).

photo: Womansday

Putting aside any thoughts of the oxymoronic "truth in advertising", there are practical and technical  reasons to use a food stylist, as cooked food tends to look "flat" after a short time (look at last night's leftovers) and things like frothy beverages or ice cream will quickly go south during a photography session. Other than arrangement and overall presentation, the stylist will use some tricks to produce the desired effect during a photo session that may last some hours.

Ice cream is usually, umm, represented by using something like canned frosting and confectioners sugar - it looks like ice cream, but won't melt. A golden brown roasted chicken is likely not actually cooked, but simply dressed up on the outside to appear like a roasted bird. To keep a stack of pancakes "fluffy" they can have pieces of cardboard between the layers of the stack, to help it keep up the appearance.

Of course, the lighting and post-processing of the photographs also help all the colors look the way they are supposed to (not necessarily the way they are), in order to make you want that Taco, breakfast sandwich, surf and turf dinner, or whatever.

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