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Random Things You Can Use to Make Food Photos More Appealing

There’s a reason that most of the foods you buy never look like the photos used to advertise them. Food photographers and stylists have all kinds of random tricks up their sleeve for making food items look picture perfect. Here’s a list of various household products that are commonly used to make dishes look more appealing. A warning, though: you might lose your appetite.

  • Antacid is dropped into soda to create fizz and bubbles
  • Boot polish is rubbed onto char-grilled foods to make them shine
  • Cardboard is placed inside of food such as hamburgers to give it more volume
  • Colored waxes can be melted to look like various sauces
  • Cotton balls can add warmth to your meal. Soak them in water, microwave them, and place them behind foods for some instant steam.
  • Dish soap is mixed into drinks to create surface bubbles
  • Fabric protector is sprayed onto pancakes to prevent them from absorbing syrup
  • Glue can be used as a replacement for milk for foods like cereal
  • Glycerin is coated onto seafood to make it look juicier. It can also be mixed with water to make longer-lasting drops.
  • Hair spray can be used make dried-out foods look fresh again
  • Incense sticks can be used to add steam to shots
  • Laquer is painted onto rice to make the grains shinier and less sticky
  • Lemon extract can be used to remove the blue letters and numbers printed on food bottles.
  • Liquid glucose is mixed into noodles to make them look hot and fresh
  • Mashed potato is used as a replacement for ice cream due to the fact that it doesn’t melt. Color it to change its flavor. It can also be injected into meat to give volume, or stuffed into a pie to allow for picture perfect slices — just make sure the edges are covered with actual filling.
  • Motor oil is used as a replacement for dull-looking syrups due to the fact that it shines in the light.
  • Plastic ice cubes replace real ones due to the fact that they don’t melt
  • Shaving cream is used instead of whipped cream because it’s less runny and is easier to shape
  • Spray deodorant is used to make certain fruits (e.g. grapes) shine
  • Toothpicks are used to prop up food for better angles and increased volume

There you have it: a list of random tricks and secrets used by food photographers. If you know of any that aren’t on this list, please leave us a comment and we’ll add it!


Sources: Quora, Pixiq, DivineCaroline, Photopoly, PR Daily, Food Photography Blog


Image credit: From a food styling class with Matt Armendariz of mattbites.com by Emily Cavalier