Are you looking for ways to grow your food photography business? Or perhaps you simply want to be the Instagram influencer whose food photography attracts followers and sponsors alike? Then you have to learn these 20 food styling tips to render a glamorous touch to your food and beverage photos.
Why Do You Need To Learn Food Styling Tips?
You must be wondering why do I need to learn food styling tips? Isn’t it the responsibility of a food stylist or maybe a creative director to take care of the aesthetics, while you focus on the other important aspects of photography? Perhaps you are right. But the thing is if you have just started your photography career then you must be working with clients who may not have the budget to hire a food stylist separately. In such a scenario, if you can convince the client of your food styling skill, then you can definitely negotiate a higher rate.
Gradually, as your business expands and you start to work with bigger clients who have a budget to hire a food stylist or a creative director for the project, then also you need to know how to style the food. This way you can explain better exactly what type of food styling you want for the perfect outcome.
Who Can Try These Food Styling Tips
While these styling tips are definitely aimed to help food photographers, but there are some more categories that can try these tips as well. For instance:-
• Bloggers who prefer to use their own food photos for his/her food blog posts
• Vloggers who make food-related videos
• Trainers who teach food styling and photography
• Event planners or organizers
• And of course, a food stylist who is planning a career in this field.
So, let’s move on to 20 food photography styling tips.
Work Out a Messy Yet Organized Look – One of the Interesting Food Styling Tips
Sounds a bit contradictory, right? But yes, when it comes to attractive food photography, a messy yet organized look often attracts viewers. How? Let me explain.
When you are taking food photos where the primary ingredients are half-cooked or raw items then it’s okay to adopt an arrangement style that apparently looks a bit messy. You can try this look for a plate of vegetable salad, fresh fruits, bowls of soup, smoothies, milkshakes, etc. However, this doesn’t mean that you completely overlook the arrangement. Rather to make this tip work, you can add a backdrop or element which is closer to nature.
Let There Be Light!
Talk of food photography and you simply can’t ignore the role light plays in highlighting the right color and texture of food items/ingredients. Sometimes you may need very bright light to create a colorful palette of fresh fruits and vegetables, in different shades and textures.
So, do you need the same lighting for all your food photos? The answer is no! A sideways light source is best when you want to show off food items in varying textures and colors, for instance, a chicken burger or a veg sandwich. The light falling from the side helps balance the bright spots and shadows at the same time. However, it is always suggested that you try to avoid front lighting as it can create too bright spots which don’t look good when you are trying to capture a range of textures and shades.
Use Softer Lighting For a Dramatic Effect
While bright lighting is always desirable for photography, sometimes you need diffused light to create a dramatic effect. You can try softer lighting where you notice a lot of dark shadows or too bright light sources are spoiling the scene. Else you can opt for a balanced approach using both the light and shadow in a creative manner. Schedule the shoot on a cloudy day, near the window, for the perfect soft, diffused light.
Here in this photograph, a plain cup of tea has been given a magical touch by perfectly balancing the sunlight and shadow effects! And of course, the colorful vintage rug adds a glam touch to the beverage photography.
Manage the Backdrop Well
No, I am not talking about investing in costly items to create a glitzy backdrop. In fact, when it comes to food photography, the food remains the showstopper while the backdrop is just used to complete the picture.
Usually, food photographers prefer to prepare their own backdrop with simple items like cardboard, parchment paper, different types of fabric (cotton muslin is preferred), gift wrapping paper, wallpaper, and so on. You can search online to buy a photography backdrop or plan it on your own.
Match The Food And Cutlery – One of the Key Food Styling Tips You Can’t Ignore!
Definitely food and cutlery go hand in hand, isn’t it? In fact, it is the cutlery that can set the tone for your food photos. For instance, if you want to render a vintage touch to your food and beverage photos then a grand silverware or brass cutlery set will match them perfectly. On the other hand, for a modern subdued look, you can pick up a simple crystal cutlery set.
Besides selecting the right cutlery, you also need to figure out how and where to place the utensils so that they perfectly complement your food photos.
Let Ingredients Tell The Story
There are expert food bloggers who prefer to use the ingredients in such a way so that they reveal exactly how the dish is prepared! Let’s suppose you need to click pictures of yummy-looking puffed apple pancakes. Needless to say, apple is the primary ingredient but you also need to add a few more ingredients like eggs, milk, butter, cinnamon, etc. to prepare this dish.
So, to style this food photograph you can keep a few of these ingredients to adorn the background. This trick not only makes your food photos look great but it instantly tells the viewer/reader how the dish is prepared, what all ingredients have been used.
Give an Impression of Motion
Even your still food photography can come to life with a few little tricks. For instance, a hand pouring cream on a smoothie or honey on the pancake can render a lively touch to the food photos. The viewer instantly gets a feel and flavor of the dish prepared!
Use Utensils and Props of Different Shapes and Sizes
If you are planning to shoot food photos that are too flat, then try this food styling tip. Add utensils or props of different heights and sizes to make your food photos look interesting and unique.
Take a look at this simple food photo. The photographer has smartly placed the cookies to create different heights and angels. And the bottle of milk with straws is used to add more height to this food photo.
Try a Vintage Look
If you are aiming to make money selling photos, then try to add a vintage touch to your food photos. Your photos will surely sell at a higher price!
The best thing about vintage photography is that you can keep it simple without too much of flashy props! For instance if you have a rugged table or worn-out chair lying unused somewhere, take it out and use it creatively for your food photoshoot.
Use Fabric – The Most Desirable Prop To Add a Glam Touch to Your Food Photos!
Be it a fine embroidered table cloth, linen napkins or hand towels, they can help add a layer to the scene, especially if you prefer to keep it rustic, Now you must be wondering do I need to purchase different colored sets for different types of food photography? The answer is “No!”
Actually food stylists suggest that you keep a set or two of neutral colored linens ready, if you can’t spend money on expensive colorful fabrics. In case you are desperate to add some colors, then try the multicolored checkered ones.
Few More Food Styling Tips and Ideas
Take a bite or cut a slice, especially if you are shooting round-shaped items like cakes, cookies, chocolate tart etc. This is a great way to make your food photos look eatable!
Use small bowls or plates to keep ingredients, especially if you are taking a few behind-the-scene shots. For instance, if you are clicking cake baking photos, then you can use small bowls to keep sugar, butter and other ingredients. Make sure to place these bowls at different distances so that they don’t look cluttered or too evenly arranged in a straight line.
Select neutral colored plates and bowls, if you prefer to use ceramic or porcelain for food photography. The neutral shades work best to create a simple minimalist look.
Planning to shoot a bowl of fresh fruit? Make sure those apples, peaches and water melons are cut into small pieces. Even better if you can bring in some variations in shapes as well.
Be mindful of the garnishing. Remember, food photos always look appealing with extra garnishing like powdered sugar, slices of lemon, mint leaves and so on. You need to decide appropriate garnishing based on the types of dishes you are clicking.
Choose the colors correctly. When it comes to food photography, you might be tempted to add as much colors as possible. And this can be disastrous! You need to follow a few color theories to shoot perfect food photos.
Invest in wooden accents, specially the cutting board to provide an antique touch to your food photos.
Try flat lat photography, especially if you are shooting a sumptuous spread of food on a huge dining table. Here are few tips to
Draw inspiration from YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. These are the best platforms to learn all about food styling.
And last but not the least, despite following the above food styling tips, you need to do some photo editing to bring out the desired effect. So, it is important that you learn photoshop basics and invest in an editing software, if you are serious about pursuing a career in this field.