Color Correcting Food

Color Correcting Food

September 10, 2013

How does a professional colorist color correct food? Our guest colorist Rob Bessette shares his secrets and the keys for a successful session.

Every now and again I get booked by agencies who represent food clients.  Pizza, subs, hot dogs, bagels, donuts, you name it.  Whenever I’m presented with one of these types of sessions I always make sure to build more time into the budget.  The main reason being, in my experience, they are the most challenging of all the sessions that I work on.

Color accuracy is critical and it’s up to you, the colorist, to make the product look as appetizing as it possibly can.  In commercial work, but especially in food advertising, your color grade can make a big difference as to whether or not someone will go out and buy the product that you’re trying to sell.


Whether it’s a wide shot where the food is barely visible or a beauty shot where the food is right in your face making you salivate, making the product “pop” is the whole reason why the client is working with you.  While it’s easy to overlook, make sure to pay special attention to every single piece of food that is in the shot.  A lot of time I end up keying and brightening a large portion of the food on wide shots.

In the shot below I had to pull a key on the green leafy plate that belongs to the girl on the left.  While it seems relatively minor and not critical to the integrity of the scene, left untreated it can easily turn off some eagle eyed viewers and hurt the integrity of the dish.

Without a key, it looked too dull and bland, especially since the overall tone of the piece is so warm.  By adding some blue/cyan and raising the gain, the food now not only looks more appetizing, but pops off the plate as well.  Our whole job is to make everything look as if it’s the best meal you could possibly imagine.

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