Being a food stylist on a tv commercial is always really fun and really stressful. Longer hours, lots of pressure for great performance, and managing a team are just a few of the things to be prepared for. I recently worked on a shoot from 12:30pm until 3:45am! Let me tell you….when I fell into my bed that night, my body did not move again for 10 hours! I definitely love being able to mix these crazy days with my more normal routine of print photo shoots. It’s a different kind of feeling but equally satisfying.
Whenever I work on a tv commercial, I like to have a minimum of two assistants and they are so needed and so helpful. As the key food stylist, I have to be able to be on set to make sure whatever scene we are working on is working perfectly but I also need to be ready for the next scene. The only way to do that well, is to have a great team that’s got my back and managing and organizing the day is soooo important! In the commercial below for McDonald’s Canada’s new Peach Smoothie we shot for 12 hours and completely out of sequence. We had to work around the light and move around the park all day. Catching beautiful shots at the right times was key and nobody would be happy waiting on the food stylist. My team and I had to be prepared and ready to go for each scene when we were needed and I am happy to say we were 🙂 My assistants for this shoot were great! Michelle, Marilyn, and Christine all helped out and made sure we never had to wait on anything. It was a blast!
People sometimes would be surprised to find out all the work that goes into a 30 second commercial and sometimes I am still surprised! For instance, did you notice in the Peach Smoothie spot all the little fluffs flying in the air? Well with each take, and each call of “action” those fluffies were being blown into the air for that beautiful effect. “Action…and cue the fluffies” was heard all day. At one point there was a member of the crew on his knees, blowing fluffies with each take. Kind of hilarious but beautiful effect in the commercial! Another thing to note is the scene of the main girl eating her peach….as the peach drips down her arm, she wipes upward to uncover her beautiful cold and sweating peach smoothie. This was all done in one take so getting the perfect drip and the perfect transfer of peach to smoothie required many takes. We had our smoothie machines running right next to the set and kept on changing it as needed. So awesome to see how great the final product is. I am really proud of this one and glad that McDonald’s Canada keeps including me on awesome projects.
Hope you enjoy the spot and would love to hear your comments 🙂
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in a photo shoot for a large company like McDonald’s? Recently I got the chance to food style a photo shoot with the McDonald’s Canada team. Marketing Director Hope Bagozzi, and the photography team (myself included) had the goal to answer a clients question of “why the food in pictures looks different then what you get at the store”. This is a question I get asked all the time and the basic answer is that the picture has to tell you what you are getting in your sandwich and the sandwich you eat has to taste good. Not all restaurants have full descriptions of their burgers on their menus so the picture has to tell the whole story.
Food styling is not just cooking food and putting it on a plate for a photographer to shoot. There are a lot of things to consider and time is a very important one. Usually on a photo shoot for a company there will be many people involved and many comments of what is shot. I have to be able to control my food and not let the food control me. This is where techniques, like melting my cheese once my burger is built or adding ketchup with a syringe comes in. I need to keep my burger looking fresh and hot even though it is at room temperature and I want to melt the cheese not let the heat of the burger melt it for me. This job is all about control and patience and I love it! hehehe
In the video and on all McDonald’s photo shoots and tv commercial shoots we use all McDonald’s products. The same box of burgers that would get delivered to the store gets delivered to my shoot. Same buns, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustartd, cheese etc. This is something that McDonald’s is very proud of and is true. The burgers are cooked as you see in the video on a flat top that resembles what is used in a McDonald’s restaurant but I have to cook the sides first to get full cooking on it.
One more thing….this video is so real that even my slip of the tongue was left in! Yes a photo is 2 dimensional and will I ever live this comment down? Good news is I can laugh at myself and have found that this is a common slip of the tongue. Basically I meant that in a picture we basically see a flat image, therefore all elements have to be pulled forward to be read properly. HA there… I set the record straight.
In all seriousness I hope you enjoy the video. It was a very cool initiative for McDonald’s Canada and I am proud to have been asked to participate 🙂
Recently got the opportunity to shoot a very funny and cool commercial for Boston Pizza with TAXI agency in Toronto. Had a lot of fun shooting this although it was kind of crazy to get all that food ready and looking awesome for one shot! Lucky for me had two great assistants, Christelle and Kester, helping me out. Hope you enjoy 🙂
Whenever I get hired to be the food stylist for a cookbook I get excited. The cookbook I am shooting this week (stay tuned for updates of its release) is full of exciting recipes from all over the world. I love experiencing new spices and flavours….so delicious. Today’s spice was Berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend that is fragrant and unique. Can’t wait to use it at home!
Lucky for me I am shooting with one of my favorite photographers in Toronto, Ryan Szulc. His work is awesome and our styles mesh perfectly. Throw in the amazing Madeleine Johari, prop stylist extraordinaire, and you have food art! Can’t wait to see the finished product but sadly this book won’t be available for another year….I assure you it will be worth the wait 🙂
So you thought only magazines featuring models do cover tries….well you thought wrong!
Today I got the opportunity to shoot with one of my favourite Montreal photographers, Hans Laurendeau over at Shoot Studio (www.shootstudio.ca) for the June cover of Reader’s Digest magazine. I was given one recipe and we were asked to come up with 3 or 4 different ways to shoot it. We had a safe version which turned out gorgeous, a second safe version, which was equally nice and a little fun, and then we went crazy. Fists were involved and overall explosions….it was a lot of improvisation and creativity….my kind of shoot!
Now we leave it with the professionals and wait and see which is chosen…..
Packaging can always be a fun shooting adventure. This was a great sweet project shooting cake pops, doughnuts, and mini cupcakes for Old El Paso USA and Sensio Group available at Target USA.
Project manager Bryna Kuhnreich and myself had a hard time not eating all these treats!
Pickles and pickled vegetables have always been a part of my life. I grew up in a family that owned a well known local pickle company and spent many of my summers working in the factory making delicious pickles. Every halloween we would give out pickles and were known as the pickle family. These are some of my fondest memories and as a special treat, my sisters and I have decided to make my father a keepsake of his pickle recipes in a cookbook form. I was lucky this week to get together a great Montreal team, photographer Hans Laurendeau, and prop stylist Irene Garavelli and we put together a bunch of beautiful shots. Looking forward to now creating this birthday present for my dad!
The great thing about shooting out of town in Toronto is getting to eat out. Over the years Toronto’s eating scene has changed quite a bit and I have my favourite spots in the city. I routinely hit Little Korea for amazing Kimchee! So delicious and spicy in a very unique way. My favourite place is the restaurant on the south west corner with the green sign….helpful right? hehe
A great chinese restaurant in china town, which actually is a chain but a chain that actually is amazing, is Asian Legend. Tasty, flavourful and hearty, every dish was better then the one before. Michelle, my assistant, and I ordered way too much and enjoyed every minute.
If you are here and you have a craving for an old fashioned Montreal smoked meat sandwich, Centre Street Deli on Centre street east of Dufferin is the place to go. Related to it’s Montreal counter part Snowdon Deli, Centre street is busy, fast, and to the point….delicious!
Last but not least was my stop at Bannock. Everything we ordered was delicious right up to the homemade basil blueberry ice cream. Yummmmm!
Looking forward to many more visits, and many more meals to enjoy 🙂
On February 26th 2012, CTV news in Montreal aired a news story about me and a day in the life of a food stylist. Nadine Ishak visited me and my two assistants while shooting with photographer Michel Paquet for a cookbook that will be out in stores soon. Click on the link to see the interview. Was super fun 🙂