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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Food Photography Talk 
Thread started 31 Oct 2015 (Saturday) 20:07
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What color plate? Research on food presentation

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Location: California: SF Bay Area
Oct 31, 2015 20:07 |  #1

This article in the Nov. 2 New Yorker (external link), "Accounting for Taste," describes research by Charles Spence at Oxford University on how vision and hearing affect consumers' experience of foods and beverages. For example:

In 2012, the snack company Mondelez, the owner of Cadbury’s, made another misstep. When it changed the classic rectangular chunks of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk into curved segments, customers complained that the chocolate tasted “too sugary” and “sickly.” Spence and other researchers have found that curved shapes can enhance sweetness. In one experiment, diners reported that a cheesecake tasted twenty per cent sweeter when it was eaten from a round white plate rather than a square one.

The findings on shapes and colors might be put to use in food styling to emphasize selected features of the food.

PRONOUN ADVISORY: OhLook is a she. | A FEW CORRECT SPELLINGS: lens, aperture, amateur, hobbyist, per se, raccoon, whoa, more so (2 wds.), shoo-in | IMAGE EDITING OK

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Joined Mar 2012
Location: Having too much fun in the studio
Nov 01, 2015 17:21 |  #2

What a fascinating article!

I do a lot of consumer package photography (my favorite kind of project) and in some cases the photo guidelines are very tightly scripted before the shoot and as I've been told, many of the choices are based on 'research' prior to the shoot. In other cases, other than layout space, many of the specific choices are made in real time based on what 'looks good' at the time of the shoot. In these cases, the photography typically undergoes focus group research *after* the designs have been assembled but prior to going into production, and if changes are required it mans new photography (woot woot!). It's incredible how much it costs to bring a food product to market and many companies will try to hedge their bets as best they can before a product hits the shelves.

Though I'm not personally aware of it, I'd venture a guess that the ad agencies and design firms that I work with are using some derivative of the type of research from the New Yorker article, and I'd further guess that it will become the norm.

Thanks for linking that, it was a fun read and I scored pretty well with the experiments at the end. :-D

My answer for most photography questions: "it depends...'

Scott ­ Spellman
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Location: Royal Oak MI
Nov 02, 2015 18:46 |  #3

Yes it's certain that visual presentation affects taste perception. Good restaurateurs know this and should be very involved with the imagery and styling for marketing materials and presentation to the customer.

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Joined Nov 2013
Location: Texas
Nov 03, 2015 02:34 |  #4

Great post OhLook - very interesting for sure.


Senior Member
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Location: Montreal
Nov 05, 2015 13:44 |  #5

Cool Link, thanks!

6D w/Vello grip, 650 w/Canon grip, 85 1.8, 16-35L, 40mm 2.8, 100mm 2.8 L Macro Broncolor Siros 400S

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What color plate? Research on food presentation
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