Its true that our perception of what a quality cup of coffee, or that chilled glass of beer and beverages look like is mainly influenced by the pictures that we have been used to for so long a time. But, if you were to ask a professional photographer, then he or she would tell you how hard it is to reproduce that perfect balance of color in the beverage.
First off, its hard to work with black coffee since they give off an oily sheen. Furthermore, with cappuccino and latte, the froth quickly disappears and therefore it becomes hard to get those perfect shots in such a small period of time.
The coffee look is reproduced by using a solution of water, gelatin and browning sauce to afford that smoothness. Other times, cream and gravy browners have been used for effect. To create the foam, stylists often depend on using soapy water around the perimeter of the glass by using an eye-dropper.
Typically, no alcohol is used in any of the still photos that you see of the many alcoholic products. For cocktails, the color is generated by food coloring agents, whereas the other visual cues such froth, ice and fizz are produced by employing different tricks.
For instance, with margaritas, stylists rely on gelatin and ice powder to create the crushed ice look when mixed in the drink. Sometimes, acrylic ice or fake ice is used in the drink because real ice melts real quick under the effect of photography lights. Also, Vaseline is used on the rim to give margaritas their innate look.
For the frosted glass look for beer, photo experts depend on spray-on deodorant mixed with glycerin and Scotchguard on the glass to create those beads of condensation that glisten against the camera lights. And that is how the icy cold frosted look that you see of your favorite beer in a photograph is produced.
Ice Cream, Milkshake And Whipped Cream
Working with ice-cream for a food photographer is akin to working with a diva for a fashion photographer. The first problem with ice-cream is that its hard to mold, and to top it all, if the snaps aren’t being taken in a refrigerated condition, then it melts before you can get one good snap of the dessert.
Hence, experts rely on other ingredients like mixing icing sugar with the frosting to replicate the look of an ice-cream. Yet others employ a combination of corn syrup, powdered sugar and vegetable shortening to ‘fake’ an ice-cream.
For whipped cream, non-dairy creamer is used as it does not wilt, and some have even gone to the extent of using shaving cream to replicate the effect. With milkshakes, sour cream is generally used for photography since its naturally thick and can be swirled easily.