Shooting the Real Thing

Many photographers find shooting ice cream as one of the most challenging subjects. Unless you have a food stylist who can make a really good version of the real thing, it’s best to be prepared on what to expect on a set.

  1. Check Your Ingredients

If you don’t have a food stylist and need to shoot the real thing, you need gallons and gallons of ice cream to work with. More expensive brands use higher quality ingredients and this type of ice cream melts faster than their cheaper counterparts. So if you have the choice of what ice cream to get, the cheaper the better. Experiment with at least three different brands and gauge which one gives the best color and texture for your project.

  1. Experiment with Different Types of Scoopers

You need to know beforehand how many scoops you need to fit in your container and which one gives you the best texture you need. The last thing you want is to be at the studio ready to shoot and your scoopers are too big or too small to produce that 3 perfect scoops that fits in that specific container. Always get your scooper the day before and experiment.

  1. Use a Stand In For Lighting

While you have your stylist preparing the “hero” ice cream, prepare your lighting with a stand-in. This can be a fake ice cream similarly colored to the real one, or use the actual ice cream- make your scoops then freeze so it will take a while for your ice cream to melt and give you ample time to figure out the lighting set-up.


  1. Work Fast!

Working with real ice cream can be a bit nerve-wracking. The lighting already needs to be perfect once the “hero” ice cream is ready. You have maybe a couple of minutes to make tweaks on your set-up or add additional props on set. Make sure that you have several containers or cones already lined up just in case the first scoop melts faster than you can click.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

And of course, practice makes perfect. You can be more confident once you have experimented with your subject and prepared your lighting set-up days before the actual shoot. This can’t be a one-man show, get an experienced stylist who can work fast without compromising the quality of your shoot.

Photos on this article are of real gelato and ice cream float. We shot them for our clients Angelati Gelato and Picket Fence during our early days in the business. It was quite a challenge but we were very happy with the results !

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