Friday, January 18, 2008


Okay, everyone! Are you ready for the continuation of day two?

Here it goes.......

First of all, all I can tell you is we made carrot cake, peach pie, chicken and muffins this day.

It's aaalllll so top secret.

Kind of like the CIA.
Minus the double agents, world travel and the involvement of the government.

So,'s nothing like the CIA.

Anyway, I'll tell you that four shots is a lot for one stylist to do in one day. If we were shooting for the front of some packaging (like a cake mix, for instance)? We'd be working for a couple of days to get one shot. Maybe even more than a couple of days. And there's no way they'd let an idiot like me style anything for it.

Anyhoo, Melinda (the food stylist) is good and she knocked down 2 shots before lunch. She saved the harder shots for the afternoon - the pie and the cake.

Here are the tools Melinda used to do the "stand-in". The stand-in is a fairly unstyled piece that the stylist (or assistant) would put on the set so the photographer can light the set and the Art Director can work with the plates and other accessories for the shot. In food styling, there are lots of medical and dental tools used. See that scalpel with the teal handle?

Oh - by the way? There are 6 people working on the shot here: Me, Melinda, Kevin (the photographer), Amy (the photographer's assistant), Linda (the art director) and Mara (she's works for the studio and the client and is here to make sure we do what the client wants). Here's a picture of Mara. Just because I like her:

She's cute and tiny and petite and wears really cute shoes with high heels. And she's fun to talk to.
You know who else I really like? Stephanie:

She runs the studio. When she comes in for the day everyone is clamoring to talk to her. And not because they need anything, but because she's just fun to talk to. This woman has 5 kids. Five! And a grandchild!!! She truly is super-woman. I think she may have been a model, as well. Look at her! Gorgeous!

So! Here's Melinda, cutting out a piece of pie for the "stand-in".

See the pie she is working on? The top is much smoother than the one on the right of the photo. Go ahead and click on the photo and check it out. The one on the right of the photo is the actual recipe. The one that Melinda is working on?

It's stuffed with instant mashed potatoes!!! Melinda makes the mashed potatoes and then tops them with the pie filling to get the top of the pie to look less bumpy and cracked, but she needs to have the peaches show through, so she tops them with the actual pie filling. When she styles the finished piece? She pins peaches on the potatoes to cover them up and make it look like a peach pie.

For the next shot, the carrot cake, the art director decided she wanted a bowl of berries in the background. So, luckily, Pegi, another food stylist is working with berries in the next studio. I go over there and see this:

Ummmmm.....hey, there Dave! Whatchya doin'? Errrr......working real hard I see. Uh, whatchya lookin' at there? This Old House's website? Hmmmm. And what does this website have in common with food photography??

Dave is another photographer/assistant. He is shooting all the step-shots today. There is a lot of waiting around for the photographers while the food stylists make the food pretty. Dave likes woodworking in his free time. He's building some kitchen cabinets for his house.

Chicks totally dig Dave. They feed him fruit with very large tweezers:

I didn't get a shot of Pegi, but she's the one with the big tweezers. She's really neat and a funny goofball. I see Pegi maayybe twice a year, but it feels like I've know her forever.

But you know what? That's how this business is: you work very closely with people you may have never met before. You need to become best friends and work well together as a team to get the job done and not piss anyone off. In the process, you get to know a lot about these people in a short time and then you're done. You move on to the next thing.

Anyway, I get the berries from Pegi and I sort through them and look for some beauties. I place the strawberries in some cool water to hydrate and perk up the greens on them.

Meanwhile, Melinda starts working on the carrot cake. I made the cakes the day before and the frosting today:

And here is the finished shot on set!


It's about 6pm and we get to go home! I get home at about 6:30 and I'm tired.


Sister Honey Bunch said...

I am so intrigued with your job. How cool!

Mrs. Jones said...

Wow. Most people wouldn't even know how much work goes into taking food pictures! I saw a show on food styling a long time ago, and all the little tricks they used to make the food look good were really cool. I definitely wouldn't want to eat any of it though!

All of your jobs are so top secret, Martha. I'm going to call you secret food agent from now on. sfa.

Can I look as young as Stephanie when I have a grandchild? Heck, I don't even look that young now. Can I get some secrets from that lady, because I don't see one wrinkle on that face!

gordostyle said...

Wow, your job sounds so amazing, and interesting, and fun, anal, but cool, and creative.... way cool!

Do you have a degree in food something? Just curious...


Penny said...

Now that sounds like a fun job!

Michelle said...

Children's has one of those little scalpels with the teal handle in every medication room. We use them to cut suppositories for the tiny babies. Now THAT'S versatility in a tool: everything from food styling to rectal meds!

Thirkellgirl said...

I can't get my head around pinning peaches on mashed potatoes. What does that say about us as a society, that our expectation is pinned-peach pie? Lol.

Come visit me. I have a decorating dilemna and I'm inviting feedback from creative people. :)

Sarah said...

Sounds like fun!! I am glad you shard your job with us internets!

And Michelle....LOL! That is versatility at its finest!

Anonymous said...

My picture was first... just because you like me!! :) haha
It was wonderful to meet you again and work together. I look forward to seeing you more!

Cottage Magpie said...

I can't tell you how fascinated I am by all your insider food shot information! Since I take food shots for my blog, but always just shoot real food in natural light, I always wonder how "the pros" do it! Fasincating! And where the heck do you learn all these bizarro-world food tricks, anyway? Thanks for visiting my blog!
~Angela :-)

Kim said...

That is so interesting! It proves to me that there is no way that you can make your stuff at home look like the photos!

Ashlee said...

Sounds like you have a truly awesome job! I'm jealous! I'd love to play with food all day and get paid for it! Though mashed potato peach pie doesn't sound so yummy. :0)

Lisa @ Take90West said...

Okay, I loved these posts on what you do at work. I think it looks fun.
But the food?
It seems oddly Diva-like.
Like your doing a photo shoot for Lindsay or Paris, instead of a pie!

LLA said...

Wow - this was FASCINATING!!! Thank you so much for sharing this...

I had a vague notion that "food stylist" was a job - but had no idea what it entailed, etc. I think I need to learn more - did I already say that this seems fascinating??? :)