CHARLOTTE’S TIPS: FOOD STYLING

These simple straight-forward tips will help guide you in creating the perfect composition.

Hey guys! So of course we know that cooking a tasty meal is one part of the challenge… next comes how to present it. If you want to style a great shot, there are many elements to consider, but the way I approach it is to first think about the story I want to tell. A pretty photo is great, but the best food photography draws you in and leaves you wanting to know more about what’s happening or the person behind it.

Colour
Do you have an overall colour scheme in mind? I like to experiment on both ends of the spectrum, from light and airy to dark and moody, and everything in between. I recently shot some photos for a Mauritian chef. While all the food was delicious (one highlight of my job is I get to eat everything afterwards), a lot of it was quite brown or monochrome. A good tip is to add brightness using garnishes. Some freshly chopped parsley or red chilli can bring life to a monochrome dish. And remember that fresh, quality ingredients will always be more photogenic.

Movement
If you have many elements of a photo to style together, start with a leading line. Our eyes are naturally drawn to lines and patterns to make sense of a scene, so it can be an effective way to draw your audience’s attention to a focus point. So those ‘randomly scattered’ looking photos are seldom random at all!

You can incorporate hands, people and action shots to tell the story. Food is about sharing and creating so, to me, the cook and the process are just as important as the finished dish. I love a good shot of family or friends tucking into a feast — it makes me want to reach through my computer or phone to join in.

Props
Introduce contrasting textures and dimensions by varying tableware, cutlery, linen napkins or attractive ingredients that were used in the dish. You can also get creative with backdrops; I use wood, blackboards, coffee tables, and a range of patterned paper to mimic different materials. Avoid the temptation of going overboard and creating a cluttered scene… though my prop collection at home is ever-growing and getting a little out of hand (shh, don’t tell my boyfriend)!

Food styling is a whole different skillset to food photography, so a lot of practise is needed in order to find your own voice. Be patient, play around, take a lot of photos and keep all the outtakes (in case you change your mind about them later). Good luck!

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