McDonald’s Photo Styling and ‘Behind-the-Scenes’

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McDonald’s Behind The Scenes

A behind the scenes shoot explains why the burger you get in the restaurant is different to the one in the image

In the Joel Schumacher-directed movie Falling Down, released in 1993 in the aftermath of the early 90s recession Michael Douglas plays a middle-aged, white-collar worker, who feels ‘the promise’ America has made to its citizens has been broken. It’s encapsulated in a scene about photography and image-making, where Douglas’ character (“D-Fens”) is served a burger which looks nothing like the photo behind the counter – “look at that, it’s plump it’s juicy, it’s three inches thick…now look at this sorry, miserable squashed thing…”

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiY-q6Wafgg']

Douglas’ character “D-Fens” became a poster-boy for those who believe that all communications need to be free of any manipulation. Leaving aside the slightly deranged (“D-Ranged”?!) nature of Douglas’ character, there was a well-meaning but ultimately wrong-headed idea of “communication”.

A Photo Editor just posted this “behind-the-scenes” video from McDonald’s, looking at the image of a burger bought from one of their restaurants, versus the image of the burger on the menu.  They talk to the photographer and food stylist, explaining why the photo looks plumper, showing the ingredients spilling out slightly, the condiments oozing from the bun. It’s an informative, unpretentious, step-by-step, insight into food photography. Yet it’s also worth noting that the popular marketing format of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ movie is just another communications strategy, another way of telling a story, there’s always another guiding idea ‘behind-the-scenes’. Unlike “D-Fens” who seemed to believe in the idea of pure communication – no ‘manipulation’, ‘framing’ or ‘editing’ – the fact is, all communication is a form of editing.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSd0keSj2W8']
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