9 Tips to Improve Your Food Photography Styling

Do you want to take mouthwatering photos of food? You must learn food styling. This is the art of making food look as appealing as possible.

Over the years I have developed many food styling techniques that produce amazing results. This article shares my nine favorites, which include:

Use how much food in each picture
Add simple elements to your food
Easy ways to create new food styling ideas
Let’s start styling food like the professionals!

1. Reduce the amount of food you normally consume
Food stylists who are just starting out tend to fill plates with too much food. This is a big mistake.

While you might think that a dish looks better with more food, a plate overcrowded can look worse than one with fewer items.

Instead of dumping spoonfuls, dollops, and giant scoops onto your plate, take a few steps back. Add a little bit of each item to the arrangement. This should be less than what the average person consumes.

You can spice up the space by adding cutlery and napkins to the table, as well as cups, cups, and small garnishes, such a spices sprinkled on top of your dish.

Note that the “overcrowding rule” also applies to props. While it’s fine to add a couple of small items to your arrangement don’t overdo it!

2. Add texture to bowls and plates
The smoothness and shine of most plates and bowls can cause problems.

One of the biggest challenges with photographing shiny objects is that they are difficult to capture, especially when you use artificial lighting. You’ll have to work hard in post-processing to remove the highlights that your light creates.

Shiny objects are also lacking in texture. Texture helps to make the viewer feel as if they are in the scene.

What do you think?

Paper is a great way to add texture and color to your food. I don’t do anything extravagant or distracting but I find that lining the plates with baking or parchment paper adds texture and prevents unwanted highlights.

Be very careful when positioning your paper. You don’t need the edges to be flipped up to obscure the food. Nor do you want it to be so wrinkled that the dish looks unappealing.

Also, as I stressed in my previous tip: Do not overdo! It’s a bad idea to use too much paper. Use paper sparingly.

3. Create background contrast
While white plates against a white backdrop can look striking, I recommend going for contrast.

Instead of white on white plates, use a darker plate with a lighter background.

It is important to note that the food and background should contrast. When the food is brightly colored, I add a white background. If the food is plain, then a darker background is usually the best choice.

This shot features white plates with relatively neutral colors.

See how the background is dark and textured?

4. Let food spill naturally
Your instinct as a food stylist might be to keep everything neat and tidy.

While it is always better to avoid unnecessary mess, a small amount of deliberate mess will make a big difference.

A little bit of sauce spilled or a line made of breadcrumbs can really add life and movement to a photo of food, while a clean picture often looks sterile and dull.

I would encourage you to create a mess in a specific direction. Use spills to make lines that lead the viewer to the next plate.

Ensure that your spills are well-controlled. After you have applied each mess, make sure to go through it with a keen eye.

5. Select (simple and inexpensive) tableware
Add silverware, dishes and other props to your photos to make them look complete. They will enhance the composition, and help tell the story.

You must choose your items carefully. Although highly decorated china and napery can be beautiful, they may detract the attention from the food. While flashy ornate silverware may seem appealing, it can distract the eye from the main topic.

Keep your props simple. Simple colors and designs will allow your food to shine, so choose plain items. If you’re not sure, either plain white or black will work!

6. Natural beauty is the key to promoting the foods.
Beginner food stylists often struggle to begin a composition. Many beginners are overwhelmed when they see a tabletop that is blank.

Here’s what I would recommend:

Think about the ingredients that make a dish delicious before you put it on your table.

Create the whole arrangement around that idea.

Consider breaking the brownie into pieces to reveal its gooey center. Place the brownie in the middle of your arrangement on a plate made of white paper. Use props such as a napkin and fork to draw the eye towards the brownie.

There is no right or wrong way to approach any food item. It’s important to identify the story that you want tell, and then style the food in a way that clearly communicates that story.

7. Style some of the work-in progress shots
It’s easy for a stylist to get caught up in creating the perfect plated shot.

There are many stunning opportunities to be had along the way.

Try to take a few photos as you cook the food. You can, for example, create a composition with raw ingredients and lots of mess. You could also create a composition showing the food cooling down after it comes out of the oven.

Feel free to be creative. You don’t need to work on a table. Instead, you can style your food in the oven or on the stovetop. Remember to use the techniques that I have shared in this article and you will get fantastic results, no matter where you are working.

8. Be on the lookout for new ideas
You’ll begin to repeat the same arrangement if you style enough food.

While it is fine to repeat a successful arrangement, you should also try new ideas for food styling photography services.

You can get great ideas for styling by browsing through food magazines and cookbooks. Take a look at the pictures and note what appeals to you. Keep a list of ideas you might want to try in the future. It can be fun to adjust an arrangement that you like for a new look.

You can create a Pinterest Board dedicated to the food styling you like to see online. Add the food you like to your board every time. This will help you when you need new ideas.

9. After the meal, style your food
This is your last food styling trick:

Don’t just arrange uneaten food. Serve a piece of food after you have created your final shot and some compositions in progress. You can eat it if you like!

Create another arrangement to highlight the food that is missing or not served. I have found that a plate half-finished is more appealing than the original.

You may have to be quick depending on what you are shooting. It’s part of the fun. And even if your “served shot” isn’t great, you can always try again.

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