Five tips for perfect food styling
Feast your eyes on...well...your food! Denise from the blog Foodlovin’ shows us how to showcase your special dish for your Instagram feed or your guests.
As a food stylist, my job is to showcase food that either tempts you to tuck in or motivates you to recreate the recipe at home. But taking a pic of your meal before you start eating is big news – and not just among the professionals either.
Whether for Instagram, sharing with friends or just to remind yourself how delicious it looked, almost everyone has snapped a picture of their food at some point.
And many a hobby photographer has asked themselves why their photo isn’t exactly magazine standard. As a food stylist and food photographer I know exactly what counts when it comes to making a dish look as delicious as possible. And remember – behind every perfectly retouched photo there’s a huge team of people. However, there are a few simple tricks you can use at home or in a restaurant to showcase your food in style. Here are my five faves.
Flawlessness is dull, especially when it comes to food photos. A sprinkling of salt and pepper that’s missed the target always livens things up. Breadcrumbs on the table? Great, they give the image a more natural feel. Even a hand holding a fork or setting the plate down on the table creates a livelier, more appealing photo.
Make sure what’s on the plate isn’t too dry and dull either. Food should look deliciously fresh and juicy to pique the viewer’s interest. Try and take your photo as soon as the food is served, or use a little water and oil to freshen things up.
2. Accessories & 3. Daylight
Plain plates with no pattern are best for showcasing your food. Prints and patterns can appear too busy and detract from star of the show – the food.
Apart from that, use anything that would normally be on your table. A pretty carafe with olive oil, rustic salt and pepper mills, a wine glass, a bottle of vino or some crusty bread. All are ideal for creating a backdrop. But make sure the food is always at the centre. Keep accessories to a minimum if you feel they detract from the dish.
The best food photos are taken in natural daylight. Artificial light can give your pic a yellowish tinge that doesn’t look very appetizing, while direct sunlight creates hard shadows and unflattering contrasts. Try and find a bright spot out of the sunshine.
4. Colour nuances
Imagine a bowl of red tomato soup. Nothing else. Just the soup. Not very exciting, right?
Now imagine the same soup topped with a few golden-brown croutons, a fresh green leaf of basil, some sea salt, ground pepper and a splash of oil. What a difference!
The same goes for risotto. On its own it can look bland and monotonous. Liven up a pile of rice by scattering a few chilli flakes on top, or garnish with red pepper and fresh green herbs. Colour accents and colour contrasts work wonders if your food is looking a little plain.
5. Less is more
Food is best presented in small sized portions so don’t heap too much on your plate. Leave ample space around the edges for some salt and pepper, a drizzle of sauce or even a casually placed fork. Highlight ingredients by positioning them away from the main dish. That way your viewers can see immediately what’s in the recipe.
And last but not least, no one was born an expert. Practice makes perfect so don’t give up if your first photos are disappointing. After all, the food still tastes great even without that elusive perfect pic!