A blog post about someone else’s blog post should feel like a cheat. But food photographer Matt Armendariz’s tour of a prop house in Hollywood is worth a shout-out, plus I have something to add. His notes on what he saw when he went photo shopping are pretty great: beer taps that will never run golden; cheese and sausage and milk with no expiry date; pastries baked in a rubber factory. They make you realize how much illusion is involved with so much that’s anything but illusory in the real world. Matt’s snarky tour also reminded me of my long-ago expedition to the headquarters of what was then the food magazine with the largest circulation in America (not sure if that’s true today). The kitchens and photo studios at Taste of Home were impressive enough, but it was the prop barn that blew me away. It contained none of the faux food he exposes, but the variety of down-home plates, napkins, flatware, pitchers, bowls and platters arrayed on those miles of aisles of shelves was staggering. In retrospect it makes me realize how important the backdrop is even when food is the focus. Shoot everything on the same china and all pies tend to blur.