This past weekend, The Wife and I went out to the grocery store and bought no fewer than 6 boxes of cereal. The passers-by and employees of the store must have thought we were nuts, because these were not "adult" cereals, but rather ones my nieces and nephews would thoroughly enjoy. And, by the end of the weekend, a good portion of them ended up in a plastic grocery bag covered in Elmer's glue and shortening.
It all started as an idea The Wife had while we were touring places to rent. She told me she wanted to decorate the breakfast nook with close up photos of cereal. No bowl, no table, nothing but the cereal. Me being me, I thought I needed to add some milk, just to give it that feeling of "I could reach in and eat it." The Wife was skeptical, but I knew I could pull it off.
My original thought was to use heavy cream for the milk, however, a little research reminded me that Elmer's glue with a little water made for a much better "milk" that you can place pretty much anywhere you need. Check. Through a little more research, I also found out that putting a little shortening on the bottom of the bowl helped place the pieces right where you wanted them, without them moving around as you added liquid (real milk or glue). That one tip saved me more trouble than I will admit to! So, the day after getting all the cereal, we went out to gather the "milk" and shortening. Now all that was left was to make 7 "perfect" bowls of cereal.
Even though I wanted the bowls of cereal to look freshly poured, I had to make sure the pieces were appropriate for "the look" of each cereal. So out came a TV tray, and I poured the cereal little by little, and searched to make sure the pieces were whole, not too big or small, held their shape appropriately enough, etc. For some reason, I thought this was going to be a quick process; 2 hours later, I had my "perfect" bowls.
The setup for actually taking the shots was kept simple and straightforward, as there was absolutely no reason to complicate matters (even as much as I tend to do that). Once I got the lighting just right, It was just a matter of placing the cereal on the shortening layer, adjusting what pieces didn't fall into place like I wanted them, and then pouring the "milk" into place. It was very much an assembly line after that, with the bowls flying through the kitchen, onto the set, and into a plastic bag. The glue made things fun to deal with (I'm still not sure if I've got it all off my camera), and it was tough being hunched over for about 6 hours. However, once I got the photos onto the computer, I knew it was all worth it!
To the right is the photo idea that The Wife came up with, and it grew to the other photos as well. The shortening idea saved me so much time and hassle it's crazy. I might still be at it if it weren't for that tip. Plus, it meant that the amount of glue I used to make the shot happen was drastically lower, as it's just enough glue to cover the shortening and make the letters look like they are floating. I still look in disbelief when I remind myself that it's Elmer's glue and not milk!
To see all the photos from the weekend, head over to the "For Sale" section of the site, or just click here.
Have any food photo ideas you'd like to see? Just leave a comment below!