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Food Styling 101

July 29, 2010 matkonation 1 Comment

Recently I’ve been getting calls from people interested in becoming food stylists and wanting to know what it takes to go about it. This blog is also intended to not only provide great recipes, but also a look into what the three of us do, professionally. These are tips that should be followed liberally; use only some of the ideas; change the order- whatever works for you!

In Israel, as opposed to the U.S., a food stylist is also a prop stylist, meaning a stylist is not only responsible for making the food look appetizing, but all that surrounds the food as well. One of my favorite things to do is to shop for props at flea markets, where you get the best deals and the most unique items. I fly to LA twice a year and plan my trips so that I’m always in town on the second Sunday of each month, when the largest flea market in Southern California takes place, at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. These are pics I took from my last shopping trip, for your enjoyment,

Things you will need:

An eye for aesthetics

Knowledge of food


Dishes, silverware, napkins, cups, etc.

Medical tweezers

A photographer

Motivation and persistence

How to:

1. An eye for aesthetics– this is an extremely creative and art-driven profession that has more do to with aesthetics than about food. Begin looking through culinary magazines, both local and international to get a feel for what style you associate with. Find a few pictures that you really like and try to copy them at home- this will get you started in understanding composition of both the food and the props. Don’t worry if your pictures don’t look exactly like the original-remember that those pictures were taken by a professional photographer in a studio.

2. Knowledge of food-in order to make food look good, you have to know how ingredients react during cooking.  Food photography is about making food look good, and therefore the taste is not as important. For instance, greens look much better when blanched in hot water, rather than being cooked all the way through. Professional cooking courses are highly recommended.

3. Backgrounds– all photos are photographed on something, and those are the backgrounds. They can range from all types of materials including, paper, wood, metal, marble, etc. Begin collecting or making your own according to your own personal style.

4. Dishes, silverware, napkins, cups, etc– This is your own personal arsenal- things that you have collected and contribute in creating your own personal style. Try to find unique and one-of-a-kind things that will differentiate you from other stylists.

5. Medical tweezers- one of the many items that you will need in your personal toolbox, and by far the most important. Once food is on the set, touching it with your hands can mess up everything. Use tweezers to move a piece of pasta a little to the left, or to place an extra raspberry on a cake.

6.  A photographer– once you have done your homework and taken several pictures yourself and you feel comfortable with creating an image, look around for photographers to work with. Pair up with a photographer just starting out and the two of you can grow together or take a chance and try a photographer with experience.

7. Motivation and persistence- as with any creative profession, motivation and persistence go hand in hand with success.  If you are food blogger who simply wants to improve your pictures, the same applies- it takes practice to make food look really yummy.

For more info, check out the recent article published on Ynet (in Hebrew).

One comment to “Food Styling 101”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.I enjoyed well while reading your article

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