My friends at 2dphotography decided to embark on a food styling mission for portfolio purposes, and of course I inserted myself directly in the middle of it, figuring it would be a piece of cake.
So apparently, food styling is hard?
I’ll share a couple things I’ve learned, and hopefully be able to help anyone trying to take reliably great photos of food in general.
1) Natural light is key. However, when natural light isn’t possible (as is the case for most of my 2am dinner projects) we used a cubelite, which is a translucent cube allowing light to pass through/bounce off the interior for a more natural effect. When a very natural look was desired, we used one light. When a not-so-natural look was ideal, we used two. Case in point:
This is with one light; you can see how it creates the effects of shadows/soft lighting on the eggs as if they were sitting in a windowsill.
This is with two lights
2) Use a variety of backgrounds/props to really help create the illusion that you are in an entirely different building/environment. Focus on different textures and colors. These were taken on the same day, in the same cubelite.
3) Keep it simple. Food is beautiful. Buy quality ingredients and really emphasize how gorgeous the different textures/colors can be on their own.
4) Have an image in mind before you start setting up the food. Sometimes, food is time-sensitive (as is the case with this avocado) but in general it’ll save you a lot of headache. With this avocado shot, I thought about how the avocado is very round, so perhaps a squarish plate/background area would help contrast that. We contemplated folding the napkin on the side neatly, however the entire picture looked just a little too orderly and inserting a bit of chaos can help make it that much more appealing.
Ok. I’ll stop pretending to know what I’m talking about now. The biggest piece of advice I can offer anyone talking food photos is: be patient. We started out taking some fairly horrific photos, and then gradually got so used to styling that it became easy and fun.