Food for the lens is something of an art.
Ask a food designer and they’ll tell you that making food for filming or photography is like painting; it’s a combination of ideas, planning, time to choose the handpicked ingredients, hard graft and an ‘eye’ for composition.
Looking at food in a TV ad, film or cookery programme, you’d think that most of the time most of us produce the luscious looking dishes that regularly appear in the kitchens and dining areas of celebrity chefs. And that the food ingredients we use in our home-cooking are a glorious unblemished colour and as fresh as when they were plucked from the ground or tree.
But even as we see the aspirational dishes appear like genies in an impossible time-frame, we know that our own experience of food, 90% of the time, is nothing like the stuff on tellie.
Either we’re too tired to cook after work and opt for a ready-meal or make some quick an’ easy comfort meal – spag bol, macaroni cheese, beans on toast. And then it’s left-overs or try to use up the rapidly decaying vegetables at the bottom of the fridge.
Yet there’s magic in images of recipes that look magnificent. It makes us believe that we too can create great looking, delicious dishes if only we had the time (and talent).
It’s a sort of pornography – a longing, a fantasy, a desire to plate up something on a par with Master Chef.
And a vague educational agenda aside, this is the aim of food filming & photography.
To create a longing in the viewer to be that person who fashions the perfect dish which in turn sells more ingredients and possibly creates celebrity foodie brands like Fanny, Delia, Nigella and Jamie.
Never underestimate the work it takes to make food on camera look great.
There are weeks of planning before any food shoot to cover all the bases from creating the recipe, sourcing & buying the ingredients, choosing the colours & textures of the props, dressing the set, costuming the presenter, cooking the dishes, arranging the food on the plate and making sure it looks fresh and appetising under hot studio lights.
Hats off to the production managers, creative directors, food stylists and professional cooks, not to mention those who do the clearing, washing up and rubbish removal after filming; our craving for food on camera would hardly be met without these legions of dedicated folk!