You may have heard of a food stylist before, or you may not. So here we’ll introduce what one of these mystical creatures is, their merits and help you to work out if you need one.

What is a food stylist?

Food that has been styled and prop

A food stylist is essentially just that, someone who styles food ready for food photography. This means arranging (styling) the surroundings, the props and the food itself to make sure that it is perfectly captured and gives the best impression of the end product.

What can they bring to a food photography shoot?

The art comes in ensuring that the non-visual aspects to the food, such as the aroma and taste, are portrayed in a visual way and in a 2D photograph. You want to be able to create an image where the food can tell a story and really speak for itself.

Food stylists have to be creative and incredibly inventive to ensure that the food looks its best. During long photo shoots, this isn’t an easy task. Have you ever tried to keep ice cream from melting under spotlights, or made a dish look like it’s piping hot 4 hours after it’s actually been cooked, or managed to keep a wilting salad looking shiny? A good food stylist’s inventiveness and creativity will make this happen.

And what displays the food the best? Did you know that white plates often work best as they show the colours and textures off? What about baskets, spoons, backdrops and crockery, should you include condiments? Whilst these aren’t the food themselves, they still add (or detract) quality to the image and a food stylist will not only know what will flatter the shot, but will probably also bring everything with them.

They will often also shop for the ingredients themselves so that they can choose the produce that will look the best on camera. Often food may also look better on camera if cooked slightly differently to the way it may usually be cooked for consumption. So the food stylist may also cook some food themselves, or give advice to the chef. For example, slightly undercooked vegetables may be more vibrant and hold their shape better for the shoot than vegetables that are fully cooked.

Do I really need a food stylist?

That’s really up to you. They add a cost, yes, but they can be a great investment to help get that perfect shot. That image that really manages to portray the quality, taste and smell of your food, and until smell-o-vision is invented, that does take some doing. However, if your budget really won’t allow for one, then we will work directly with the chef to work out the best styling for the food involved.

If you are on the look-out for a food stylist and photographer for your shoot, we can recommend some great stylists that we’ve worked with in the past. If you’re planning a food photography shoot then get in touch and see how we can help: [email protected].