Quick Food Styling Tips
Quick Food Styling Tips
Food styling is just ONE piece of making sure our food pics look great. Learning how to style food takes time, education, and lots of practice!
But first, what exactly is food styling?
Food styling is the art of arranging and presenting dishes in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
It plays a crucial role in the world of food photography, as it not only elevates the visual appeal of the dish but also evokes emotions, moods, and movement, to create that ‘must have’ craving for the viewer.
A well-styled dish can make all the difference in capturing the attention of potential readers, creating shareable content on social media, and showcasing your expertise as a food blogger! In essence, food styling is the secret ingredient that transforms ordinary food photos into mouth-watering masterpieces.
Food styling is a career on it's own, and like I mentioned earlier, it takes a lot of time and practice to master. Wherever you are in your food styling journey, I wanted to share a list of quick tips and things to think about to help you take amazing photos.
Some of these might be old news, but hopefully you’re able to take away some new ideas to incorporate into your next photograph session!
Small sized items can help showcase your food better. Since we often take macro shots, it’s important to scale the scene down so it doesn’t distract from the food. When I go shopping for props, I like to search for appetizer spoons, plates, small juice cups, pinch bowls, etc. to add to my props stash.
Stacking and layering: this can be a great way to add visual appeal to your photo, incorporating different colors and textures. Even adding several plates of the same type can add some interest!
Just be mindful that having both stacked and unstacked objects in your photo can alter the way the camera adjusts to the depth or focus to the picture.
Here are a few examples of work I’ve done in the past that feature layering:
Add linens/cloth napkins - I love using cloth napkins to add a pop of color and texture into my scenes! Sometimes it can be difficult to get them to sit right on the table; I’ve found that 100% linen is great texture to work with and lays more nicely than thicker cotton napkins.
Here’s an example:
Add cutlery and serving utensils - this is an easy way to add authenticity to your scene. Making pastry dough? Add in a pastry cutter. Serving up a bowl of soup? Find a way to show off the ladle. Diving into a slice of cake? The fork on the plate can really help the viewer imagine taking a bite!
Have fun with utensils. Consider finding some antique pieces for a more rustic look. Or use the utensil in a new and unexpected way, like showing off ingredients.
In this image, I used a wooden spoon to hold sugar.
Crumbs and spills are your best friend!! While some styles are meant to look more modern with clean lines, we want our recipes to look and feel inviting, and crumbs/spills are a great way to evoke that feeling! Cooking is messy and these touches can make the recipe feel more relatable. You can either use part of the final product (i.e. crumbs from a finished cookie) or raw ingredients. Crumbs and spills should be intentional but look natural (but really, there’s not a lot that can go wrong 😉 )
Always use fresh produce and only bring them out once you’re ready to shoot. Fresh herby garnishes, lettuce, fruits, etc. can wilt and lose their optimal texture over the course of an hour or two.
Add water droplets on fresh produce by using a spray bottle filled with water and spritzing them before snapping your pictures. I like to use Evian facial mist since the droplets are very fine, and you can also mix water and glycerin in the spray bottle for extra oompf.
Be precise with garnishes or small pieces - consider getting a pair of culinary tweezers to place pieces of food exactly where you want it.
Motor oil as maple syrup? Mashed potatoes instead of ice cream?
These substitutes can pass on large advertisements, but be careful!
Our job as food bloggers is to entice the reader to make our recipe, and we will lose a lot of trust if the users final product doesn’t look relatively like ours!
But enhancing the look of food is a great idea to make it more visually appealing on camera. While we may want to be cautious about what ingredients we modify, there are some neat tricks and learnings you can take away from ‘commercial’ styling.
Bump up the portions - creating an abundant serving of food is much more appealing than less food on the plate.
The smoothie on the right is filled all the way to the top and also garnished with fruit which is an improvement from the smoothie on the left!
Before you hit the shutter button…
…is the photo too distracting? What is the main focal point? Am I telling the story I want to tell?
Often times we can get excited about adding lots of items (food or serveware) to the scene, but the food should always remain the focal point!