Shoot The Cake, And Eat It Too
Reiman's food stylists use a kitchen in the studio. There are usually two stylists, who share a sink and a microwave. They have their own stove and oven. There's also a mobile stove for a third food stylist, should one be needed for backup.
This is how the shoot works: Stand-in food (mashed potatoes for ice cream, for example) is used at first to achieve composition, explains Stephanie Marchese, food photography art director.
Once the lighting is set by the photographer in the studio, editors are called in for a Polaroid approval. Then food stylists prepare the tidbits in the studio's kitchen.
At this point, the food that will be shot for the printed piece becomes exposed to the studio lighting and other conditions, and it's important not to have it "die" on the set before the shoot is completed.
"Team-work effort is the solution," says Marchese. "And communication and timing are essential -- a lot of communication between myself, the photographer and the food stylist."
Depending on the feature they're photographing, it takes a few hours to compose, style and prepare the food, says Marchese. Considering that souffle, for example, has a life span of two to three minutes after it's taken out of the oven, timeliness is crucial indeed.
"Once the final food is on the set, we take one more Polaroid before we go to film," Marchese continues. Sometimes, she adds, this stage is skipped until after the film has been shot --especially with food that has a short life span.
Since all food is prepared in the photo studio on the day of the photo-shoot, Marchese emphasizes, there are only a few tricks used during shoots. Sometimes she uses fake ice cream as a stand-in food. Another ploy is to moisten the food at the last minute, or undercook it to make it more photoworthy. For example, she says, if broccoli is cooked for 10 minutes, it turns olive green; but if it's cooked for only three minutes, it will maintain its bright green color.