These are my best tips I have learnt after food styling for nearly 18 years. The brief with any food shoot is also make the food the hero! (I don’t know how many times I have heard this) I agree with the saying that we eat first with our eyes… when you look at an image of well styled and shot food, its makes you instantly say YUM, and want to eat it, whether you are on a diet or not, or you have literally just eaten… You need to taste that food!
This means I have done my job well and the reader wants to lick the phone, web page, magazine printout, social pages or menu board… where ever the image is displayed or posted. The team usually consists of a photographer, food stylist and photo chef. We all work together to produce an image that will draw the viewer in and make them want to eat immediately.
This is it in a nut shell- Simple food , not too complicated, food is the “hero”, the light is perfect, background is subtle, with some light delicate texture, thats doesn’t distract from the food, and the image draws in the viewer. Minimal props here to display the simplicity of the food.
Food –I like to keep the food simple and colourful. It always helps to garnish with something green, a herb, or some cracked pepper. Trending at the moment is lots of drips and drizzles, so I usually included these in my recipe, making sure that it complements the dish and is needed for taste as well as visually appealing. The drips and drizzles make the dish more accessible, and make you want to dive in and start eating.
Recipe and Styling Jane Collins
Background– This will change depending on your brief or story. I like to choose simple textures backgrounds, in the same colour tone and nothing too distracting or bold, you want the food to be the hero of the shot, and what your eye gets drawn to. Choose a neutral coloured background, I like to use whites, and greys or a natural feel to my shots. Depending on the season and the light, the shots may have a warm or cool tone, and this sets the “story” or feeling for the images. In essence I am trying to convey a story, a lifestyle or capture a moment in time, engaging the reader/ viewer to become part of my story. I especially like to use texture, a subtle way of giving volume and depth to the background with out making it busy or fussy. Layering is another clever way of bringing in more elements, by using the same colour pallet is doesn’t confuse or complete, just compliments.
Props – Props need to compliment the shot and space and not be there just for filling a gap! Of course use vessels to hold the food, I like to add add different textures, and heights, and tones to the image. This will create depth and an interesting layer to the composition of the shot, adding to the feel or the story behind the image. Bringing a softness to the shot in the way of napery is something I love to work with. Simple linen with texture and open weave will always add warmth and a friendly feeling.
light – available light is best, and will change through out the day. Choose a time when its consistent and wont change too much while your shooting. I use my kitchen window that has beautiful light at the beginning of the day, but towards the afternoon, it goes and its not the best. I can use some filters on my phone to adjust this, but starting with beautiful light is the most important ingredient I believe in capturing a mesmerising shot.
Turn your flash off when using your mobile phone to take images , set up next to a window that has no direct sunlight. The best phots are always the ones using simple available light that makes the food shine.
Choose a style that suits you and run with it. Make your own style. Use others as inspiration and reference, but create your own look. Try and inject your own style into each image , a little bit of you and what you like….( you just have to work out what it is! )
Follow my instagram account for daily food images. @janeecollins ,and Saturday style egg inspiration every Saturday. I use my phone for images from home , or when I am out on a food photo shoot, for behind the scenes or shop shots ,as I can’t always have the professional food photographers around with their fancy cameras. I love exploring what I can achieve with just my phone, and it gives me the freedom to take pictures when the moment arises. My husband jokes about me taking a picture of everything we eat ! BUT the upside is he gets to eat everything… no a bad trade off.. even if its a little cold but the time I have snapped it.
Thanks to Rob shaw and Omid for images credited.
Rob Shaw- insta -@robcshaw
Photography Omid Daghighi http://www.omid.com.au
Food and styling Jane Collins http://www.janecollins.com.au