Summer… it’s so hot right now. (If you didn’t get this Zoolander references, we can’t be friends… Just kidding, I still love your face, just, you know, maybe ever so slightly less).
And because it’s so sticky, sweaty, drippy, oh-my-god-how-is-it-humanly-possible-to-sweat-there?! hot, I think we can all agree that copious amounts of ice cream are in order. For us food bloggers, ice cream, popsicles and any other cold delight is prime real estate this time of year.
But shooting it, now that’s a bear! Almost a literal bear, because wrangling ice cream on a 90F day in an unconditioned apartment while repeatedly muttering “Don’t melt, don’t melt, don’t melt” under your breath is just about as effective as wrangling a grizzly with said drippy cone of ice cream. In other words, no bueno.
So if shooting ice cream and other foods that melt have you in the drippy dumps, here are my 6 best tips on photographing foods that melt without losing your cool (or you’re damn mind).
Work in a cool space
If you’re lucky enough to have a cool space in your home or the location of your shoot, work there. Cool basements, walk-in refrigerators/freezers, or even just a space in the shade will help keep your melty foods, well, less melty. Although these cool spaces may not have ideal lighting, they’re a great place to prep and set up your shot.
Chill all dishware/flatware
Chill, dude… you’re flatware, dishware and pretty much anything you plan to use in your shoot. Sans napkins and towels, perhaps. The cooler you can keep your props and anything else your cold food will come into contact with, the cooler your food will stay. Personally, I like to freeze my props to keep them extra chilly, and if it’s possible, I’ll even style my food in the dishware I want to photograph it in, and then I’ll freeze it all together. Easy peasy, ice cream freezy.
Prep as much of the shot beforehand as possible
No matter what you do to keep your cold foods cold, they’re going to eventually begin to melt… And it’s always sooner than you’d hope for it to be. This is where planning ahead really becomes your best friend. Personally, I like to lay out my shot and snap a few photos before I add the cold food.
Use a cold marble slab or baking sheet between (or even during) shots
Sometimes your props just aren’t made out of materials that freeze or conduct cold very well. And that’s a bummer. BUUUUUT not the end of the world. A great way to extend the life of your shoot: keep a cold slab of marble or a frozen baking sheet on hand to park your cold foods on while you rearrange props or reorganize your shot. If you don’t have time to pop your baking sheet in and out of the freezer, you can keep it cold by placing a couple of ice packs under it. Badda bing, badda boom, cold food is cold.
Scoop and freeze
One of my favorite tricks when I’m working with ice cream is to pre-scoop everything. Simply let your ice cream sit on the counter for a few minutes until it’s softened enough to scoop, and then scoop it into a cupcake pan. Freeze and voila! Your ice cream is in perfect serving sizes and chilled all the way through.
Work with the drip
If all else fails and your cold food gets warm and drippy, just work with the drip!