The Art of Food Styling

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.

:)

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13 Comments

Filed under Food Styling

13 responses to “The Art of Food Styling

  1. This was very helpful to me, thank you! Your photos are gorgeous, I love the pasta and tomato sauce image.

  2. Great tips for all of us who are always looking to improve our photos. Thanks for reminding us that it doesn’t take a whole lot to make things really pop more in a photo.

  3. Thanks for your tips =). They’re simple things, but not things I would have thought of. I love the ice cream, pasta, and avocado pictures!

  4. Thanks for the tips! I’m trying hard to improve my photos and I keep realizing how much more there is to learn!

  5. Kristin

    I just found your site. I think it’s great! I havent browsed it all yet, but do you ever mention what kind of camera you use to take these great photos?

  6. Hey Kristin! I believe the camera used for these photos was a Nikon D3 – however more recent photographs are a plain old Canon Rebel or a Nikon D90 :)

  7. Great pieces of advice! Thanks!

  8. Great styling! Especially the ice cream shot. It makes me drool!

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