Though, when you think about it, why wouldn’t food have a stylist? In almost any photoshoot involving people, makeup and shooting at the correct angle are required to make the model as photogenic as possible. So shouldn’t food be as photogenic as possible too? Any food stylist knows, you want people to eat the dish being photographed. And if a stylist can make the viewer hungry or their mouth water, then they have certainly done their job.
What type of challenges are involved in food styling?
To start, let’s confirm an often misconstrued fact: food styling is difficult. But in a world where your friends’ lunches and dinners are often posted on social media, people are more likely to think anyone can make food look pretty. The reason? Facebook makes food styling look easy.
What most people forget about food pics posted on Facebook or other social networks is a professional chef, whose job is to make the food look good, often prepares the food in these pictures. Therefore the cook has already done the styling in many of the photos you see in your News Feed.
Food stylists, however, generally do not have the luxury of a chef styling the food for them. Instead, it’s their job to make the food look pretty. And there are a number of challenges in their way, which include the following.
- Time – the second a dish is ready to be photographed, there’s only a short window of time the food looks good enough to be shot. In other words, the clock is ticking. Just like in any business, there can be delays; and when the delay is too long, the food may begin to wilt or crumble.
- Lighting & Angles – certain foods look better under specific lighting. An experienced food stylist will know what lights to use and what angles to shoot at, to bring out the best in the food’s visual appeal.
- Props, Cutlery and Background – a food stylist needs to ensure all these elements work together and complement the food. From the type of plate or fork used, to the color of the background, all these little details play a role in how enticing the food looks.
- The Food Itself – you’ve likely eaten at a restaurant where the chef has sprinkled chives or coriander on a dish as a garnish. A food stylist also uses garnishes to make a food look more appealing. However, in terms of preparing the food, they do much more than this. A food stylist also ensures the food is cooked right. This doesn’t necessarily mean the food is cooked completely, however, as many food stylists will often undercook meat to give it a plumper, more appealing look.