Food Stylist: a key figure in Food Photography
Have you ever been to or watched on TV the backstage of a fashion show? You see dozens of people working on the models' hair and make up. You have professionals preparing the outfits, the accessories and making sure the clothes fit perfectly on the models' bodies.
The equivalent in food photography is the job of the food stylist.
What does a food stylist do? What is a food stylist?
The food stylist makes the food photogenic, eye pleasing. The role of the food stylist is so important in food photography that I dare to say, despite being a photographer, that in most cases 50% of the photoshoot's success is due to their work, their creativity and their intuition.
We eat with our mouths but the mouth watering process starts with our eyes and our nose. Instagram hasn't invented yet a system to post smells so food marketing still relies solely on great imagery of dishes and recipes.
In cuisine, food can be enjoyed with sight too. A proper display and creative plating of a dish enhances the ingredients, creates a feast for the eyes and celebrates the chef's hard work.
I strongly suggest food photographers, restaurateurs and chefs alike to consider hiring a good food stylist for important photoshoots. The best cuisine, if it's badly or sloppily plated, will not look good. A dish that looks bad on the plate is doomed. No matter how the photographer lights it, no matter what angles he or she uses, no matter what post production technique or filter is employed, a recipe without styling will not look appetizing and eye pleasing.
Food stylist tricks. Food stylist tools. Food stylist props.
In this post I want to give you guidelines to make the food stylist's role effective and productive on all of your photoshoots:
Discuss the dishes and the desired style before the photoshoot. The plating phase in the kitchen is no place for experimenting. The food stylist must know exactly what to do when the ingredients are ready.
Let the food stylist do his or her job. After the dish is ready, then it is photographer's game time.
Tip for photographers, kitchen staff and restaurant owners/managers: pay attention to the food stylist's timing and flow. Most dishes are time sensitive when it comes to photographing them. When the ingredients are ready, the food stylist must be ready. When the food stylist is done plating/displaying, the photographer must be ready. Delays might spoil the images of a dish.
Food stylists work for the benefit of the eyes, not for the palate. They will use props, sprays and different tricks to make the dishes look at their best. Tip for chefs and restaurateurs: don't be offended if they mess with your food. It's for a good cause!
For photographers: you are the ones paid to see. The last visual check on the dishes before starting the photoshoot is your task and duty. Be respectful of the other people's work but if something is out of place or doesn't look good, make them fix it before pressing the shutter.
I advice food photographers and food stylists to develop a strong work relationship. Together they form a synergy. One's success propels the other's achievements. Beautiful images help stylists find assignments. Beautiful food styling catches the eye of potential new photography clients.
How to become a food stylist. Food styling and photography.
For young food photographers and young food stylists I strongly suggest collaborations. You will help one another advance in your careers.
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