The Crazy Contraptions Behind Major Food Commercials

A cutting-edge food commercial firm has revealed some of the complex photography tricks it uses for shoots.

Well-known industry expert Steve Giralt and his company The Garage recently allowed Insider into their studio for a day.

On the day Insider visited, the team was working on a test shoot for Burger King. In a bid to land the client, the team went so far as to build a kitchen with a tile wall.

“As far as the work we do, it’s incredibly complex, very technical,” says Giralt.

Styling a Burger

Brett Kurzweil, a veteran food stylist, reveals that he doesn’t cook the burger all the way through.

“Because I didn’t want it to shrink too much. I wanted to get as much volume out of this piece of meat as I could get,” he says.

Kurzweil uses a colorant made out of gravy, darkener, and soap to get the patty looking just right.

He also uses heated metal skewers pushed into the burger to achieve the perfect grill marks.


Giralt explains that clients “have no idea” about what is technologically possible, meaning the team is often tasked with very difficult shoots.

To achieve complex shots, rigs are made mostly from scratch to provide the structure for the specialized equipment that makes the food dance across the screen.

“The robot is a complicated and expensive thing that’s used for a lot of what we do,” explains rigging department head Matthew Huber.

Depending on the movement needed for a particular shot, Huber will try and reuse the same pieces of the robot.

“It’s like Lego, you know. You just put stuff together, take it apart, do something different with it the next time.

“So we’ve used a lot of these pieces, probably hundreds of times.”


Despite building a kitchen, complete with a tile wall. The team felt it was still empty so they also installed two floating shelves.

Production designer Paola Andrea Ramirez can pull a lot of props from her collection that she’s been collecting for 20 years.

“This is Salvation Army, garage sales, years and years of hoarding.”

In the food commercial game, filming a 30-second advert can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The team is also working against the clock because they use real food which doesn’t stay pretty for long.

The above video gives a great insight into the photography techniques used to pull off a high-end shoot.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.