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Kardamom's avatar

Have you ever tried to replicate a recipe photograph?

Asked by Kardamom (29622points) May 18th, 2015

One of my friends recently made a recipe from a new cookbook that she bought. The cookbook has really beautiful and tempting photographs. My friend is a very good cook and with her first dish that she made from this cookbook, she attempted to replicate the photo as well.

She posted the original photo next to her creation, along with the recipe on Facebook. The photo turned out great and I thought it was a really neat idea.

Have any of you ever tried, and succeeded on doing this?

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17 Answers

janbb's avatar

Not really my kind of thing. I’d rather just cook it and eat it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Never photographed anything I made. Hmmm. I have taken pictures of wedding or bridal cakes, a buffet, and a few other things, but never tried this..

Buttonstc's avatar

Those cookbook pica are all arranged by food stylists and then photographed.

Since I have zero desire to be a food stylist, that’s not on my radarv when trying a new recipe.

I’m glad your friend enjoyed her experience, but to me personally, it is an utterly pointless waste of time.

I’m concerned with getting the taste correct.

I am aware that we eat with our eyes as well as other aspects so I do try to make it visually appealing. But slavishly copying someone elses arrangement is not on my priority list.

janbb's avatar

@Buttonstc Besides which they use lacquers and fake items to make the food glisten.

ibstubro's avatar

I wish I could remember the recipe I posted recently that was for some sort of potato dish. The photo showed gleamingly perfect cubes of what were obviously raw potato – on close examination, you could see not only the non-rounded edges, but also the grain of the raw potato. The recipe called for the potatoes to be cooked and either mashed or pureed. A user posting a photo in that instance would definitely be helpful.

But to answer your question, no, I’ve never photographed food. I tend to be anti-photograph in general. If it’s something really special, I’ll remember the emotion. If I don’t remember it, why do I need a reminder?

I certainly see the value of including a photograph with a recipe, if it’s a picture of the actual dish as made using the recipe. I’ve seen a lot of websites that allow users to post pictures with the user recipes.

janbb's avatar

Full disclosure: I will sometimes photograph I meal I’ve made to post to friends on another social site because I live alone and I’m proud of what I’ve made. But I wouldn’t try to replicate a food magazine photo just like I wouldn’t try to look like a fashion shoot.

ucme's avatar

I took a photo from a cookery book of a beautiful roast dinner, stuck it to a plate & feasted on the visual delights before me.
That was in 1997 & it still “tastes” better than the wife’s burnt offerings.
It’s fine though, because we now have staff for that.

sahID's avatar

I think it would be extremely difficult to duplicate the lighting conditions present when the cookbook photo was taken. In addition, a photo studio that shoots such photos will have high-end digital cameras and photo processing software on hand, equipment that few home cooks could afford.

Add in the fact that published dishes are styled by trained professionals, not plated by chefs and the likelihood of even the most accomplished home cook exactly duplicating a photo falls even lower.

Would I ever attempt such a feat? No.

Buttonstc's avatar


They used to be far more egregious with the fakery in times past, but then a regulation was passed regarding photos in books or magazines. The could no longer use non-food items (like brown shoe polish to create the look of a perfectly roasted turkey, for instance). Everything in the photo had to be safe to eat.

Of course they now use soy sauce rather than shoe polish but the turkey is not completely cooked as it would be at a Thanksgiving meal. That’s because the skin quickly wrinkles up unattractively the more time passes and some of these photo shoots can take a really kong time.

Sarah Moulton talked about a lot of this stuff since she formerly worked for Gourmet Magazine (and actually got her start working as a food stylist with Julia Child even tho she had no real experience, per se.

She had gone to Culinary school, of course, and even spent time apprenticing in France but never before had experience specific to food styling, which is now a specific specialty all to itself.

So, as someone mentioned already, they have so much specialized knowledge of how to get an appetizing photo, lighting, etc. that trying to replicate it would likely be an exercise in futility.

David_Achilles's avatar

If by replicate you mean use the original photo from the cookbook when you save the recipe, then yes, I do it all the time, but only for my own archive, not to post online.

I get a lot of my recipes online and if the website has a really inspiring, well done photo of the dish I like to keep it so I know what the dish is supposed to look like. I get inspired by the photo as well as the ingredient list.

It’s easy to do even if you don’t have Adobe Photoshop or any fancy software. Just right click and copy the image. Open a program like Text Edit (in Mac) or Microsoft Word (on a PC) Then Copy and paste the photo in. Type the recipe with any changes you made. Save it as a jpeg and then you can post it.

If the photo is from a cookbook, obviously you’d need to scan it. It’s a good idea to give photo credits for it if you post it online.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Nah. I posted some frog’s legs once, though.

Pachy's avatar

Replicate a recipe photograph ! Hell, I’ve never been able to come anywhere near, let alone replicate, any recipe itself.

I’m not being funny—I truly mean it !!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know what you mean @Pachy. Even when I have step by step instructions on how to bake, say, those cheddar cheese biscuits from Red Lobster, I still can’t do it!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III @Pachy I think the trick is to throw away the recipe after you get a feel for it and make what tastes good to you. My sister in law cooks the same way. I asked her how she made something one time and she didn’t know what she did. But it was so good.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I made the BEST oyster soup once. Wish I’d written down what I did, because I haven’t been able to recreate it!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well try it again and just keep throwing stuff in until it makes you happy.

Kardamom's avatar

My friend put her plate with the dish she made right next to the picture of the dish in the cookbook and took a picture of them together. I thought it was very clever. I like looking at how people take inspiration from room design, from magazines, then post their own room transformation next to it. It’s just for fun. I thought it was a neat food still life, only she actually made the food, rather than painting it.

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