How Food Styling Is Done

A series of videos shows the visual fakery that food stylists sometimes use to make fast food actually look appetizing.

Although food styling has a reputation of exploiting appetites with visual trickery, the truth is that it’s actually more honest than you think. While shady techniques such as using mashed potatoes in place of ice cream, or putting marbles at the bottom of a bowl of Campbell’s Soup to float all the noodles to the top were common in the 1970s, things have changed in recent years. A combination of new laws against false advertising, and greater public literacy in food photography–thanks to apps like Pinterest and Instagram–means that the food styling trade has evolved to be a lot more honest.


But that’s mostly just in America. In other places in the world, food styling is still the same as it ever was: wildly misleading, and often featuring a completely different “food” than what a stylist is actually supposed to be taking pictures of.

Minhky Lee is a videographer, graphic designer, and illustrator based out of Sydney, Australia. With a background in commercial films, Lee knows how companies out of Australia, Malaysia, and Indonesia make the food in their ads look so appetizing, and has uploaded a series of videos to Vimeo showing the actual versus the artificial when it comes to how commercial food photography is done.

Lee’s videos highlight a good mixture of classic food styling tricks, some of which have largely been phased out in the United States (using a combination of frosting and flour instead of ice cream, for example), and some of which are sadly still in use (hiding cotton balls inside a burger to make it appear less squashed).

There’s other gray area techniques on display here, like using pins to hold tomatoes and lettuce in place, or frosting the glass holding a soft drink with face cream and glycerine to make it look more cool and refreshing. Even if all these techniques aren’t still widely in play here in the States, it’s a fascinating look at how food styling is still done in many parts of the world.

[via: Faith is Torment]