Magazine Article


Hungry Yet? How Lighting Can Enhance the Appearance of Food

The angle at which light strikes an object, such as the peppers, is the same at which light is reflected.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs lasagna
Different light sources have various contrast ranges between the highlights and shadows, which affect the “quality” of the edge of the shadow cast.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs lasagna
Lou lit this serving of lasagna from the right side with a 2'x3' softbox to enhance the color of the basil. A mirror on the left filled in some of the shadows on the food.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs a fruit tart
Lou always uses an incident light meter to determine exposure in the highlights and shadows.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs a fruit tart
For the fruit tart, Lou placed a 2'x3' softbox on the left side and a 40" umbrella with a white interior and a black exterior in the back.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs pudding
For Lou, "specular" highlights, pinpoints of white light, are essential for getting food to jump off the page.
Lou Manna

Lou Manna photographs candy
Whether the effect is achieved with lighting and mirrors, or with any other tasty tricks, the key is to create images that tantalize viewers and satisfy clients.
Lou Manna

Enhancing Eye Appeal

Food stylists are artists in their own right. They’re specialty is knowing how to make food look more appetizing. For example:

• Undercook the food, so it doesn’t look dried out

• Brush on light oil to add shine to the food

• Use a “spritzer” bottle with glycerin and water to add droplets

• Work with fake ice cubes made out of hand-carved Lucite

• Substitute Elmer’s glue for milk

• Create fake ice cream out of confectioners sugar, mashed potatoes, margarine, and corn syrup.

A prop stylist adds dimension and helps establish a mood on the set. Some prop tips:

• Use fewer props and place more emphasis on them

• Select props that are smaller, lighter, and of softer shades of color than the food

• Solid and textured table cloth work better than stripes and patterns

• Keep it simple.

How do you know when your food photograph works well? Basically, if you want to reach out and eat the image, you’ve probably achieved enough of a drool factor to put away your gear.