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Photographing a Bon Bon

Photographing food is a fascinating art. For years, food stylists have used all sorts of "tools" like glue, hairspray, Vaseline and corn syrup to make food look great for the camera. The hot lights in a camera studio aren't very food-friendly, so to achieve the illusion of the perfect cake, cookie or chicken cacciatori, stylists use a lot of tricks. They under-cook food to help it keep its shape, use hair products to add luster to grains of rice, and apply powdered deodorant spray to grapes to produce a frosty bloom.

All of these techniques are still in use, but not at South 'n France! When we photograph our bon bons, we use the real deal. We grab a few bon bons at random from our regular stock, unwrap them, cut them in half, and put them in front of the camera. Are there little imperfections that show? Yes, absolutely! But since our product is handmade, those variations and slight imperfections are part of their charm. What you see when you look at our photos, is exactly what you get.

I was thrilled to read an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting that some of the old-school methods for achieving 'perfect food' photography are falling out of favor. Gone are the days when stylists used Vaseline to glue crumbs into the holes in a slice of cake to hold them in place. These days, food photography is going 'au naturel' and those crumbs are encouraged to stay!

The change is attributed to the growing interest in artisanal local food, farmer's markets, and casual dining. Natural lighting is replacing studio lights, and even those foods that melt are allowed in front of the camera. It used to be that shortening was always used in place of ice cream; now real ice cream is the way to go! One food stylist tells how she took bites out of hundreds of Häagen Dazs ice cream bars to get the chocolate coating to crack in just the right way. She ended up cheating with a cookie cutter.

As our photographer, Millie Holloman, and her staff will attest, bon bon photography shoots mean lots of chocolate bon bons to eat. Every bon bon we cut ends up on a platter, with a bon bon feast for everyone at the end of the shoot. It's just one more reason why shooting the real, unaltered product is the way to go!

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