‘Do You Put Motor Oil on Pancakes?’: Food Photographer Debunks Myths

A commercial photographer has taken to YouTube to debunk some of the myths that exist around high-end food and drink photography — perpetuated by a TikTok account.

Scott Choucino from Tin House Studio based in the U.K. hit back at a viral video from 5-Minute Crafts and reveals what actually happens on the set of a food commercial.


In the video from 5-Minute Crafts, they advise would-be food photographers to use PVA glue instead of milk — Choucino says this is nonsense.

He explains that when shooting for a milk brand, he will use the exact brand of milk — stressing that he is legally required to do so.

However, if he is shooting for a cereal brand then the photographer will often mix cream and milk together so that it pours slower enabling him to capture the splash.

“Also, milk has a distinct yellow tint to it and this [with the cream] makes it look very white,” he says.

“But we certainly aren’t pouring PVA glue onto cereal; because it looks like PVA glue on cereal.”

Cheese Pull

A video put out by 5-Minute Crafts shows a pizza being drilled onto a board and then glue painted onto the pie to get a shot of a slice being lifted up with the “cheese” dangling below. Choucino says this is a “half truth.”

“We’ll often slice the pizza raw, do a lattice of cheese over the slices cook it and then pull it out,” he says.

“We’re trying to show the stringy cheese, how beautiful it is and to do that we often cut it, lattice the cheese, and then pull it out.”

He says when shooting pizza, he will only use as much cheese as the pizza comes with because “we have to.”

“If it says these pizzas come with 2.6 ounces of cheese (75 grams) we have to distribute 2.6 ounces of cheese,” he says.

“We might just distribute it in a slightly tactical way to make sure the cheeseboard looks appealing.”

Fake Ice

Choucino says that for years photographers used “very expensive” fake ice and it is still used sometimes.

“If you need a drink to be on set for a very long period of time you will use fake ice because it stops the condensation happening,” he says.

“On film sets where they’re doing multiple takes, they’ll probably be using fake ice.”

However, Choucino insists that real ice looks better and the condensation from real ice also looks better.

“There’s a real shift in the industry where we’re bringing real ice into glasses and shooting it that way.”

Ice Cream

One of the accusations leveled at ice cream adverts is that it’s just mashed potato. However, Choucino insists that when he is shooting for an ice cream brand — he uses that exact brand of ice cream.

But under the hot studio lights, the ice cream has to be “double frozen.” Meaning the ice cream is taken from a freezer, scooped, and then put into a deep freezer.

However, Choucino says that sometimes ice lollies are “fabricated” and fake ice cream will be used when shooting for a cone brand or a sauce brand.

Motor Oil and Pancakes

Choucino says he was “triggered” by 5-Minute Craft’s claim that motor oil is poured onto pancakes.

“Motor oil does not look as syrupy as syrup does. And, motor oil doesn’t pour as syrupy as syrup does,” he says.

“There is no reason why you would want to put motor oil on pancakes when you could just pour syrup. It makes no sense.”

The photographer also warns having a highly flammable substance on set with high-power flashes going is not a smart move.

“One, it’s incredibly dangerous, both to the set and the shot and also to peoples’ lives,” he adds. “But also, it’s completely pointless.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.