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CRITIC’S CHOICE by Apple Mandy

taste tempters the art and style behind food imagery

mags 68 that’s May 2006

Eric Yu

alking near Jing’an temple, your eyes are suddenly drawn to a huge poster featuring a tempting portrait of crisp lettuce, red ripe tomatoes, crunchy pickles, and a juicy beef patty in a freshly baked bun. Almost instantly, your stomach rumbles and you begin to salivate. Before you know it, you’ve munched your way through two Whoppers. Such is the power of advertising, or to be precise, the skill of food stylists. Burger King, indeed, most members of the food industry spend large amounts of cash in an attempt to woo consumers with exquisitely designed visuals. From disposable burger brochures to glossy Martha Stewart cookbooks, mouth-watering images – the result of a unique threeway collaboration between client, food stylist, and photographer – sell products. Shanghai-based Betty Kruemmer has been a professional food stylist for the past 12 years. Back in 1994, Kruemmer was living in Tokyo, where she conducted cooking classes for members of Visa Card Japan. Her big break came when her works were published in several major Japanese publications, which led to several years of food and table styling for major Japanese magazines and restaurants. Currently, Kruemmer works as a menu consultant for clients such as Pasti, Visage and the Intercontinental Hotel Group. She says her approach to food styling emphasizes the visual impact, “meaning presentation comes first, then aroma, and lastly taste.” In practice, that means food is given an artificial beauty treatment. Says Kruemmer: “We often brush salads with oil to make them look more palatable. And to make ingredients stick up in soup, we use a thin metal rod to prop up the vegetables.” Of course, there’s more to food styling than trade secrets; food stylists are only as good as the photographers they work with. With more than 12 years in the business, food photographer Eric Yu has assembled an impressive portfolio of clients, including McDonald’s, President Foods, Heineken and Johnnie Walker. If you were in Hong Kong last year, you might recognize Yu’s launch photos for McD’s Honeydew Milkshake and Red Bean Pie. He also works for Ronnie’s rival, Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut), and has photographed the in-house

menu at Shanghai Häagen Dazs for the past two years. Yu says that simple shots, with minimal setup, take about a couple of hours, while bigger projects, a menu with a dozen visuals for example, can take anywhere from two to four weeks. On a shoot in HK, he worked on Kraft’s recipe booklet, a ‘rush’ project that required working 24 hours a day for five consecutive days. Like Yu, Scott Wright isn’t afraid of putting in a little overtime. For the past two years, he has shot for a wide range of high profile clients, including several major hotels: JW Marriott, JC Mandarin, Shangri-La and Radisson, as well as Bar Rouge, Dove and Coca-Cola. He photographed Three on the Bund’s 2006 calendar and the new ads for Element Fresh, featuring two ladies having lunch against a bright orange backdrop. According to Wright, “Food photography is based in mathematics.” He further explains: “The precise curve of a lamb chop is measured against its shadow in order to create an exact light, and mood.” Wright’s style can be summed up as clean and crisp, which may be why Jade on 36’s menu is clearly

the talk of the town. As you might expect, highly-skilled artists such as Kruemmer, Yu and Wright are well paid. Food stylists generally charge from USD 300-500 per day, while photographer’s fees range from RMB 300-1,500 per shot for editorial assignments, and RMB 5,000-10,000 for advertisements. That may sound like quite a hefty sum, but someone has to pay for that Value Meal. Food helpline Betty Kruemmer 6433 5611 info@gingercafe.cn Scott Wright 5307 8837 info@limelightstudio.cn www.limelightstudio.cn Eric Yu 6422 2152, 13585676262 ericyu@ericyu.com www.ericyu.com


Food Photographers in Shanghai