Food Styling Tools of the Trade
Let me just go over some of the other little tools and things that we have here at the table to talk about. One of the things, a little spray bottle. I keep a little spray bottle around because when we're doing anything that's leafy or raw, wet always looks nice. I think it promotes the idea of fresh. Some of the other tools like this rinder, this is a really cool trick. It's got this thing where you wrap it around and get that long, curly queue of a, I can demonstrate it. I don't have to show you, all of these are real. You know they are. (audience laughs) But if you're doing a drink or something that you wanna top with a really cool, little garnish, looking for something nice, something like this, and you could do a little twist with it and sit there with it wrapped around your finger for a minute or two, so it holds the shape, and you drop it onto whatever you're doing, or you drop it in your drink, you have a nice, little garnish. All these little tools that you find at the store a...
nd you're not sure what they are, obviously, tweezer is always a great, not for that, of course, but it looks really sinister (audience laughs) and I know it's for injecting the turkey or something, but the idea of being able to place liquid where you want to, this isn't the only tool you can do that with, but being able to place liquid where you want to in a shot where you want a particular glisten or whatever. And also, using olive oil and a pastry brush and having that on set when you're doing, like, meat and anything that has a shine on it, you wanna just give it a little brush. Anything that has that, the opportunity for shimmer, or if it's gonna dry out, a little bit of olive oil. Again, it's pretty editorially honest. It's not lacquer or hair spray or any of the crazy things that people use to put on food. So, that's really always a nice thing. And then, you talk about the way things are cut. For example, like this bread. If you're gonna just, if you just go like this, like you're at home, and you're gonna cut a piece of bread. Okay, great. That's nice. But if you're thinking in terms of maybe something different, then you do something just on the bias. Anything, anytime you have the opportunity to cut something on the bias, now you have a little bit more shape, maybe you get the bread that has like little holes in it like that, where it kind of have light go through. Now, the difference between that and that, you can imagine is really, it seems pretty simple. It's not really brain surgery, but it definitely gives you the opportunity to make a big mess, but also all the things that what I would prefer to do with this is just break it by hand because this is the way I would eat it. If I'm at the table, in the way I grew up, this is more appropriate. And now, that looks really organic and it's kind of more appetizing, and it kinda tells a little bit more of a story rather than, "All right everyone, get the knife "and cut the bread into circles." So, the simple, little things that you do with food styling, zesting a lemon, cutting the bread a certain way. Even the cheese, I wouldn't just, if we're gonna grate it, that's one thing, but if we're not gonna grate it, again, get your hands in there and snap a piece off. Break it, see the texture that's there. These are those kind of small, little elements that maybe you're not thinking of because you got so much to think about on set. You think about, "Okay, my camera settings. "Okay, is the food ready?" You need to slow down like I'm gonna do right now and take a deep breath, and think, "Okay, that's already done. "Camera setup, props are picked. "What can I do to make this picture look better?" And all of those little simple, little things that you think about. The grain of your salt, right? You can use Morton salt when you're cooking, but when you're gonna garnish something, having something with a little bit of texture on it, or even better, if you have the opportunity, something that's really kind of cool and get it in there, make it messy, make it pretty. These are the things that when we're eating, it doesn't have to be sloppy, but it could be messy. It could look like you're eating. And I think there's a certain beauty to that as long as you're mindful of the fact of keeping your set clean, or not. (audience laughs) Let me see if you have any more questions because I wanna get to our demo because I know I think when we get to the memo, there's gonna be some questions there and then see if there's anything else coming in from the internet before I go on.
A question came up from Yamyam Tam who asked, "Sometimes at restaurants, "the dessert plate is decorated "with a syrup design around the edge of the plate. "Do you ever go to such artistic heights? "And I'm just wondering "as far as plating food in restaurants, "how similar that is to food photography "or do you use the same tips or is it completely different?"
I think when you get to that extreme when you start talking about decorating plates with the--
[Female Moderator] Oil or syrup.
Yeah, or when you're making, what do you call 'em again? Quenelles? Yeah. To show ice cream that way, that's a very specific type of plating and if you look at food magazines, you really don't see food plated that way. I think it's more, the trend is definitely more toward keeping it more organic and looking like somebody made it maybe at home or maybe at a less formal restaurant, but I think that formal plating is not something I particularly ascribe to and I don't know that it's something that most food photographers are doing.
Cool, and along those same line, Mango Tango wanted to ask, "How do you turn it off? "As an aspiring food photographer, "I wanna take photos of everything I eat everyday. "How do you keep your inspiration, "shoot the stuff that matters, "and know when to put the camera down?" (Andrew laughs)
That's a great question. I think it's about editing. I don't think you should ever stop shooting. I think you should shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. I think it's about knowing how to edit yourself after the fact. You can shoot until the cows come home. The idea is don't publish everything. That's the idea. I mean, it's like, okay, I saw your Fettuccine Alfredo. One shot, not 90. (audience laughs) Every angle, every dip, every spoonful. I get the instinct. The instinct is real. I mean, I love it. I wanna share every aspect of it. But you have to know how to edit yourself and I think that's, don't turn it off, just don't show everybody everything you do.
And you guys, you know who you are out there. You know who you are who are doing that. (laughs)
Well, that applies to all photography styles.
Not just food photography.
Oh, for sure, yeah.
Well, I think the social media etiquette too is something that we all have to kind of become attuned to, is that if somebody's following your feed, that that's flattering. I like it when people follow me. We're all checking our followers all the time on the phone, right? (laughs) But the idea is that be sensitive to the fact that they're looking at everything you put out there and if you're putting out 900 images of the same thing, eventually they're gonna be, like, "I can't follow this. "This is just jamming up my feed." So, be selective, but also you want people to see you at your best. You wanna be, hand-select the things, especially if you, look, if you don't wanna be a food photographer, put whatever you want out there, it doesn't matter. But if you do wanna be a food photographer, if you want people to see you as somebody who's serious about what you're doing, publish things that you're proud of, not just everything, 'cause that's, if you don't understand that you're being looked at that way or if you wanna hold yourself out that way, you don't wanna have bad pictures out there in the ether, you really don't.