Here are some food styling tips for food stylist to take their pictures from average to wow. Simple tips and tricks that I follow as a food stylist while styling food.
Before I start the actual topic of food styling, let me share my story with you all. Five years back, I was a home maker and a mom and was enjoying travelling with my husband to multiple countries on his various projects.
I was mostly happy running around the kid and visiting places which I never imagined I ever will; but there were moments of frustrations where I felt I was just wasting my life doing nothing substantial.
And during one of those moments, I thought to follow my passion and to channelise my energy into something creative, learn new things in life and use my time constructively. This was when Whiskaffair was born and I started my journey as a blogger, recipe developer, Food Stylist and Food Photographer.
Like everything in my life, I liked to present my food in good way and so the concept of Food Styling came and I started the journey with few basic props and an entry level DSLR camera. I must say I sucked at the beginning but there was no looking back.
I spent hours on internet looking at the pictures of food and got inspired by many. I learnt everyday and tried to implement the learnings while I shot and today after working for many premium brands as their food stylist, I still keep learning each day.
In all these years I have come a long way and though I still have long way to go and much to learn; I want to share my learnings with you all that I have gathered in all these years.
So here are a few tips and tricks which I follow while styling my recipes and these can help you too for improving your food styling and presentation. And before I share my tips with you all, I emphasise on the fact that it is very important to figure out your style before stating to style food.
Some people like to style their food minimalistically while some has a messy style. So first step is to figure out your personal style and then work towards it.
Beginners tips for being a food stylist
1) First and foremost tip as a food stylist according to me is to get ready for styling food. For this I have a kit ready at all time which has a few basic things in it. I carry it to all the locations I am shooting and styling food, be it at my home studio or at the client location.
Make a list of things that you think are necessary while styling food and keep them in a bag. That way all the things will be handy and you will spend less time running around getting them together while shooting. Check out my list here.
2) Keep your working and cooking area clean. It helps you being more productive and style food and shooting the image more effectively. Use freshest of ingredients to garnish your food. The addition of fresh greens adds a boost of color and spark to a picture.
But make sure the green that you are using relate to the recipe. There is no point garnishing an Indian dish with Italian herbs. A good tip to keep your greens fresh is to dip them in ice cold water for 30 minutes before using them. This will make them fresh and stiff.
3) Place the garnishing ingredients randomly. I just scatter the ingredients around the bowls and plates with the dish and drop them from a height. This way they scatter around in a very natural way which gives a very realistic feel to a photo.
4) Every food has a story to tell. Figure out that story. How are you connected to the recipe? What would you pair it with? If it’s a coffee cake, place a few cups of coffee in the background.
If it’s an indian snack, keep a glass of chai behind. If it’s an Indian dessert, scatter the dry fruit slivers around. If it’s s summer cooler, scatter a few ice cubes around the glass.
5) Make sure your serving bowls and plates are clean from all sides. Nothing puts you off more than dirty greasy dishes.
6) Less is more in food styling, so don’t try to include too many elements in your picture.
7) Try to use crockery with less patterns on it. It will help you keep the focus on food. Also use small size bowls and plates to plate food for styling for photography. This way you will be able to place your food neatly and show case the important aspects of the dish.
8) While plating the food, I put the food randomly in the bowl until it is half full. Then I carefully sort out the ingredients that has gone in to it and keep them one by one taking care of the position they fall at.
You don’t want to stack all the similar ingredients together. There should be a good harmony between all the ingredients that has gone in to the dish.
9) Try to source props, and different kinds of backgrounds, napkins etc. They add a lot of character to the picture and by using a different combination, you can create a different style each time. I will write a sepearate on places to source your props from.
10) Styling is all about your passion for food so while you blog about the recipes think about the season, time of the year, upcoming festivals or events and the general trend in the food segment and make it an ongoing activity.
11) Play with the ingredients, don’t pick favorites and try all of them. The combination of ingredients is what makes a recipe different. So don’t hesitate to try. Innovation is the key to food blogging.
12) Always look out for ideas. I keep surfing Pinterest and Pin Ideas that I love.You can follow me on Pinterest here and see what I am pinning.
13) Always try to incorporate layers in your picture. Layering gives a very nice 3 dimensional perspective to an image. Use parchment paper, napkins, textured boards and other plates and bowls to layer your image.
Make sure to have at least 3 layers in each pic, more the better though. One layer could be the board. Next could be either a napkin or the texture on the board and then the plate and bowl with food.
14) If the food is less or you want to make a bulk of it in the centre, keep a small inverted bowl in the main serving bowl and style your food on top of it.
15) If you are shooting puffed indian breads, they tend to flatten up in few minutes after taking out from the oil or the tawa. In that case, you can peel them off slightly from the bottom and stuff them with kitchen tissue to keep that puffed look.
16) If your glasses or dishes on the side of the picture looks tilted, Use coins under them to make them look straight.
17) If you are shooting a soda based dish and the soda has fallen flat, try sprinkling some salt in the glass and shoot immediately.
If you have any other tip that is important for food styling, do share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will include it in the post along with your name.
Also If you have any questions or want us to cover any particular topic, do leave it in the comment section or mail us at email@example.com
Do follow me on Instagram. I keep sharing my styling set up in Insta Stories off and on.
Books on Food Styling
Some of the books that I have read on Food Styling are.
- Plates To Pixel by Helene Dujardin
- Food Photography : Pro Secret for styling, lighting and shooting by Lara Ferroni