Food and Beverage Photography FAQ

Do you use hairspray and motor oil to make food and beverages look good?

Many of the tricks used by food stylists in the past like hairspray and motor oil were mainly used when shooting with film. When using film the process takes much longer, and food needs to hold up longer on set.

These days with digital photography we can work quicker and efficiently on set, enabling us to employ what we like to call an “organic approach” to food photography. In a lot of cases all of the the food that we shoot is the real thing. When dealing with advertising, we are legally required to represent the actual product anyway. For example, when the product being advertised is cereal, we can use fake milk in the shot, but the cereal needs to be the real thing.

That said, our ultimate goal is to make photographs that are beautiful and represent your product in the best light. If we need to use something non-edible to get the shot, we’ll do it. One great example is ice – we love to use fake ice around here!

How many shots can we capture in a day?

The number of shots we can capture in a day largely depends on the type and complexity of the food or beverage, and the type and complexity of the shot. Sometimes we can spend a whole day working on one complicated advertising shot; sometimes we can shoot a dozen or more editorial shots in a day. We would be happy to discuss your project with you in more detail and get you an estimate.

What does a food stylist do?

A food stylist is trained in the art of creating food and beverage for photography and video. They know how to prepare and style food so that it looks it’s best on camera. In addition to preparing and styling the food on set, they generally shop for all of the products used in the shoot with an eye for perfection. A food stylist will sort through trays and and trays of hamburger buns to find the “perfect bun” and will sculpt the most beautiful burger you’ve ever seen, from the meat to the lettuce to that perfect drip of ketchup. Food stylists are invaluable for the process of creating beautiful food and beverage photography.

What does a prop stylist do?

A prop stylist is a professional who specializes in finding the best possible props for your shoot. The prop stylist will consult with the creative team and is in charge of providing dishes, glassware, linens, surfaces, and any other props we may need for a shoot. In some cases the prop stylist will provide props from their own collection, other times they will purchase or rent props, and will then assist with setting up and styling those props on set.

I have a limited budget, do I really need a food stylists and a prop stylists to get a good shot?

While we always recommend including a food stylist and a prop stylist in your budget, we can work with you to make the best use of your resources. We can make recommendations regarding your particular shoot and find creative ways to capture beautiful photographs with a limited budget. Some products can be easily styled without a food stylist, and we also have a growing prop collection at the studio that we can utilize for your shoot.

Can we do our food and beverage shoot at our restaurant?

Depending on the type of shots that you are considering for your project, shooting on location at your restaurant may be a great option. Shooting in your space gives us the opportunity to use your restaurant as a backdrop for your beautiful food which can integrate well with your brand and your space.

However, there are a number of challenges to shooting in a restaurant, the largest being your customers! Food photography can be time consuming and we will likely be bringing a lot of gear to shoot on location. We suggest scheduling location shoots at restaurants on a day when your restaurant is closed to avoid disrupting your customers’ experience and focus on creating beautiful photography.

Do you get to eat the food you photograph?

Unfortunately the cardinal rule in food and beverage photography is: never eat or drink anything that is on set. There are many people involved in a food shoot, from the food stylist, the prop stylist, assistants, and of course the photographer who potentially all have their hands in the food and beverages that are being photographed. Food stylists often under or overcook items and occasionally use artificial products to achieve a desired visual effect. We don’t want anyone to get sick eating undercooked chicken, you know?

There are other considerations as well, but bottom line is this: since you never know who has touched what, and what specifically something is made out of, we don’t eat the food that we photograph, no matter how beautiful it looks. But never fear, you won’t go hungry in our studio. We always make sure to have lots of snacks and drinks on hand for when we get the munchies during the shoot!

More Questions?

Not finding the answers you’re looking for? Check out all of the Frequently Asked Questions using the links below:

Food and Beverage Photography FAQ
Portraits and Corporate Head Shots FAQ
Wardrobe, Makeup, and Style FAQ
Proofing, Pos-Production, and Delivery FAQ

You should also feel free to call (314) 514-5238 or send an email to for a free consultation.

The images on this site are protected by copyright laws and may not be used without a usage license. Please contact Jonathan Gayman Photography for license inquires. Thank you!