Food Styling 101 w/ Benjie Jacinto

Food Styling 101: Don’t feed the models. 

But models should feed the stylist + photographer!

Last Saturday, I went to the Chefs on Parade to hopefully join the Food Photography and Food Styling Workshop. However, there were no seats left and I could barely hear the speaker from outside. Boo. 

Good thing I joined my mom’s photography club just in time to watch their resident Food Stylist/Food Photographer, Benjie Jacinto, conduct a lecture demo on styling and shooting a Bacon Cheeseburger.  

Yaaay, it was my first time to watch an actual food styling and shoot! :) What’s even more exciting is that it’s an actual shoot for their restaurant, Red Swan Barbecue
Putting Grill Marks on the Burger Patty
The great thing about Benjie is that he prefers using the actual food for his shoots. You’d be surprised at how common it is to use inedible materials such as paint to make food look good for the camera! 

So for our Bacon Cheeseburger shoot, Benjie brought along with him the actual burger served at the restaurant. However, to preserve the integrity of the burger, all its parts were individually wrapped.

First, he brought out a cooked burger patty without grill marks. To make even and dark grill marks, he heated a metal kebab stick over a portable torch then pressed it against the burger. It took awhile for the metal stick to heat up but the moment it did, it created a beautiful grill mark on the burger while releasing an oh-so-yummy fresh-off-the-grill-smell! 
Lettuce + Tooth Picks
He cut out real lettuce and formed them into a circle around the bun to have a balanced lettuce look that’s camera ready. He then added toothpicks to stabilize them along with the other ingredients. Who knew toothpicks could be so handy? 
The Big Tomato Illusion 
To create a really big tomato camera illusion, he sliced the tomato and positioned it towards the camera. Aaah, what a smart camera trick! 

In employing this technique, it’s very important to have a clear idea at which angles the food will be shot from. A lot of food positioning and enhancing will depend on this such as the positioning of the sesame seeds, the bacon, etc. 
Steady Cheese
He also stabilized the cheese using the toothpicks. 
Melted Cheese Effect
For that oozing melted cheese effect, Benjie used the torch and directed it to an aluminum foil placed on top of the cheese. The heat from the foil causes the cheese to slightly melt without that harsh torch mark. Instead of melting the cheese over the grill, this technique allows you to control how melted the cheese is. 
Bacon + Painting the Burger Patty with Edible Sauce
Afterwards, Benjie placed two bacon slices on top, positioned bias to the camera. And then to create a slightly oily and brown effect for that cooked burger look (although the burger patty used was really cooked), he mixed catsup and soy sauce and painted it over the burger. 
Enhanced Burger Patty
Notice that the front of the burger patty looks more appealing with this added gloss? It adds a mouthwatering dimension to the burger. Yuuummy! 
And to complete the shoot, a cup of cola is placed beside the burger. Since using actual ice and coke can be difficult because of the quick melting time of ice, Benjie used gulaman sago + coke for the base, topped off with plastic ice. He then used actual coke to fill up the rest of the cup for the fizz! Now isn’t that a neat camera trick? 
Burger Just Right Before Shooting
For the finishing touches, Benjie placed the bun on top with its sesame seeds directed towards the camera. He cut off the excess bread off the side to have a neat and perfectly sliced bun.

Finally, Benjie used baked french fries (not fried to avoid soggy fries for the shoot) and placed them on a criss cross manner to add dimension. However, it’s important to note that these fries, along with the cup of cola, are simply accessories to the shot. The photograph should still lead the consumers’ eyes toward the main product: Bacon + Cheese + Burger. 
Now, the Bacon Cheeseburger is ready for the camera! That surely involved a lot of detailed work but I must admit, the burger looked soooo delicious! I was hungry the entire time. :P 

I’ll show you the actual end product of this shoot next time. :) 

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  • http://twitter.com/ceemee Cym Marzan

    At the end, who ate the burger? I wonder what Coke with sago tastes like? hehehe!

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      Haha I don’t know! :)) Well he used the unflavored gulaman (sorry gulaman pala) so I guess it tastes like coke. :)

      Benjie brought it home with him.

  • http://www.melikesart.blogspot.com Will

    Nice, making the food more photogenic for commercials and advertisements! Reminds me of the Jessica Soho episode I watched dati. When shooting a halo-halo commercial for Chowking, the stylist had to use tawas because ice quickly melts under the lights.

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      Aaaah yeah I’ve heard of tawas nga for ice. :) Sayang di ko napanood yung episode na yun! Mahirap talaga magshoot ng food na nagmemelt like ice cream and ice.

      Pero galing, sobrang nakakaaliw malaman yung mga behind the scenes sa mga shoots. :)

  • Dani

    Try natin to pag kakain ulit ang TK sa labas :)) Maweweirdohan yung mga tao habang dini-dissect natin yung food haha. Sabay sigaw ng “FOOD BLOGGERS KAMI! BLOGGERS!” :))

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      Hahahahaha :)) mas lalong maweweirdohan yung mga tao sa atin :)) Pero yeah, try natin mag styling ng pagkain na edible without touching the food.

  • http://paolomandingiado.wordpress.com Paolo

    What’s your thoughts on this Smarla?

    No offense to the food stylist and the photographer (great job, by the way) but I find this akin to false advertising.

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      Honestly, I appreciate Benjie since he uses edible food and the actual product. So in his case, it’s not false advertising. :)

      Many stylists use clay or use paint on the food to enhance it. False advertising yung ibang product altogether ang ginagamit.

      It’s like a model shoot, food needs a bit of styling to look camera ready. Though they look nice in person, the colors can look faded sometimes sa camera or natatakpan yung ibang ingredients, hence the need for styling.

  • AVA

    I’m drooling for the burger! love the step by step photos!:) and I was suppose to go to chef’s parade cos my friend was going..her course is culinary kasi, but sadly couldn’t. Must have been great!

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      When I went to Chefs on Parade, puro workshops and final products na ng competitions. :P But maganda yung mga cakes nila and plating displays :)

  • http://www.mypurplespoon.com Kai

    Wow, interesting! :) Sana one of these days, maka attend din ako ng workshops na kagaya nito. ;)

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      It’s my first time to attend this type of workshop and I really had fun. Sana you could attend one of these rin. Let me know if you do, share you blog entry :D

  • Joboy

    wow smarla .nice reading ur blogs about food :)

    • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

      wow thank you so much Joboy! :) Next time demo ka rin ng food photography. 

      I really want to learn more about food photography. :) 

  • Smar

    wow thank you so much Joboy! :) Next time demo ka rin ng food photography. 

    I really want to learn more about food photography. :) 

  • Joboy

    wow smarla .nice reading ur blogs about food :)

  • Smar

    Thank you so much Peach!

    I agree, ayoko rin yung food styling ng mga fake food. Iba pa rin ang totoo eh :)

  • AVA

    I'm drooling for the burger! love the step by step photos!:) and I was suppose to go to chef's parade cos my friend was going..her course is culinary kasi, but sadly couldn't. Must have been great!

  • Smar

    Hahahahaha :)) mas lalong maweweirdohan yung mga tao sa atin :)) Pero yeah, try natin mag styling ng pagkain na edible without touching the food.

  • Smar

    Honestly, I appreciate Benjie since he uses edible food and the actual product. So in his case, it's not false advertising. :)

    Many stylists use clay or use paint on the food to enhance it. False advertising yung ibang product altogether ang ginagamit.

    It's like a model shoot, food needs a bit of styling to look camera ready. Though they look nice in person, the colors can look faded sometimes sa camera or natatakpan yung ibang ingredients, hence the need for styling.

  • Paolo

    What's your thoughts on this Smarla?

    No offense to the food stylist and the photographer (great job, by the way) but I find this akin to false advertising.

  • Dani

    Try natin to pag kakain ulit ang TK sa labas :)) Maweweirdohan yung mga tao habang dini-dissect natin yung food haha. Sabay sigaw ng "FOOD BLOGGERS KAMI! BLOGGERS!" :))

  • Will

    Nice, making the food more photogenic for commercials and advertisements! Reminds me of the Jessica Soho episode I watched dati. When shooting a halo-halo commercial for Chowking, the stylist had to use tawas because ice quickly melts under the lights.

  • Cym Marzan

    At the end, who ate the burger? I wonder what Coke with sago tastes like? hehehe!

  • Cym Marzan

    At the end, who ate the burger? I wonder what Coke with sago tastes like? hehehe!

  • Will

    Nice, making the food more photogenic for commercials and advertisements! Reminds me of the Jessica Soho episode I watched dati. When shooting a halo-halo commercial for Chowking, the stylist had to use tawas because ice quickly melts under the lights.

  • Dani

    Try natin to pag kakain ulit ang TK sa labas :)) Maweweirdohan yung mga tao habang dini-dissect natin yung food haha. Sabay sigaw ng "FOOD BLOGGERS KAMI! BLOGGERS!" :))

  • Paolo

    What's your thoughts on this Smarla?

    No offense to the food stylist and the photographer (great job, by the way) but I find this akin to false advertising.

  • Smar

    Haha I don't know! :)) Well he used the unflavored gulaman (sorry gulaman pala) so I guess it tastes like coke. :)

    Benjie brought it home with him.

  • Smar

    Aaaah yeah I've heard of tawas nga for ice. :) Sayang di ko napanood yung episode na yun! Mahirap talaga magshoot ng food na nagmemelt like ice cream and ice.

    Pero galing, sobrang nakakaaliw malaman yung mga behind the scenes sa mga shoots. :)

  • AVA

    I'm drooling for the burger! love the step by step photos!:) and I was suppose to go to chef's parade cos my friend was going..her course is culinary kasi, but sadly couldn't. Must have been great!

  • Smar

    Thank you so much Peach!

    I agree, ayoko rin yung food styling ng mga fake food. Iba pa rin ang totoo eh :)

  • Smar

    When I went to Chefs on Parade, puro workshops and final products na ng competitions. :P But maganda yung mga cakes nila and plating displays :)

  • Smar

    It's my first time to attend this type of workshop and I really had fun. Sana you could attend one of these rin. Let me know if you do, share you blog entry :D

  • Kai

    Wow, interesting! :) Sana one of these days, maka attend din ako ng workshops na kagaya nito. ;)

  • Smar

    wow thank you so much Joboy! :) Next time demo ka rin ng food photography. 

    I really want to learn more about food photography. :) 

  • Joboy

    wow smarla .nice reading ur blogs about food :)

  • http://everydaysweetnotes.blogspot.com Smar

    Thank you so much Peach!

    I agree, ayoko rin yung food styling ng mga fake food. Iba pa rin ang totoo eh :)