Absolutely Simple Food Styling That Anyone Can Do

Food Photo-001-Low - TextFood styling is the most critical part of food photography. Food styling is also most challenging, specially for someone who does not have a lot of experience in styling. Read more to learn how anyone can make food photos beautiful by simple food styling.


Food Photograph # 1

Look at the food photo below. What do you think about it? What is it missing? What do you think about the background, in general? Look at the photo again and read the photograph.

Food Photo-001-Low_01First Photograph

No seriously. Stop here for a moment and analyze the photo above. Before you go to the next paragraph, observe and read the photo above. Analyze it.What are the strength and what is missing?

This photograph uses shallow depth of field. Everything else in the photograph is out of focus and that’s why it attracts attention on the right bowl.

Adding Spices to this Food Photo

See the photo below. Let’s add the simplest of the nuts/spices that go along with this dish. For simplicity sake, I am calling this food styling. In true sense this is more art direction than styling.

Food Photo-002-Low Adding Spices

In the photo above, we just sprinkled some almonds, pistachios and some cardamom on the cloth. Do you see how a very simple food style can add a lot of impact to your photo?

But wait, that’s not it. We need to do one more thing to make an even better photo.

What’s Different Here?

Now, observe the next photo. Do you see some difference from the previous one? Look closer. Do you see how sprinkled spices are spread in the photo above? Observe the top right corner in the previous photo. See that empty space? That creates imbalance in the frame.

To balance the photograph, we need to balance the spices on the tabletop. So I picked some pistachios that were below the top bowl and moved them to top right in the frame. See the photo below and tell us what difference this made? Granted that the camera angle in the photo below is a little different, but I hope you get the idea.

Food Photo-003-Low Balanced Styling

How You Can Style Your Food

For very basic food styling, you can add raw ingredients or spices that go along with the dish and as you will agree, create a better photo.

With this post, I hope you have gained at least few things. You will learn by doing this, so please try this out and leave a talk about your results below

If this has helped I would appreciate a comment below and share it by clicking any of the following small icons.

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  • http://goddessofcooking.blogspot.com screwdestiny

    I’ve used this in a couple of my photos before. I like to take components of the dish such as berries, nuts, etc. and sprinkle them around because not only does it make it prettier, but it gives the viewer a hint of whats in the dish without even having to read about it.

    • http://www.learnfoodphotography.com/about Neel

      Wonderful point. I didn’t think of using it almost as a partial “recipe ingredient list”. That is a very smart use. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com/ Zack Jones

    Interesting topic. Funny thing is I actually prefer the first photo over the 2nd and 3rd. To me the nuts and spices detract from the photo instead of enhance it but what do I know, I’m just someone that spends a good amount of time eating food not photographing it. Regardless of the look that dish looks yummy :)

    • http://www.learnfoodphotography.com/about Neel

      You are spot on about distractions. If the photo is taken good enough, it should eliminate distractions. If certain elements distract you from the subject, those should be removed either by actually removing them or if you cannot do that, by controlling depth of field. In that case, DoF should be as shallow as possible that gets you what you want to show.

  • http://invitadoinviernoeng.blogspot.com/ Miriam/The Winter Guest

    Lovely photo. But in this case the bowls are so very appealing on their own… I tend to like the simplest setups. And I think I’m a real disaster about food styling. I can never think of things that seem to work for me… I’ve got tons of things to learn.

    • http://www.learnfoodphotography.com/about Neel

      Thank you for your comment Miriam.

  • http://simplysensationalfood.blogspot.com/ simply.food

    I stumbled across your blog by accident but am glad I did.You have afantastic space and the tips are so good for an amateur like me.Following your blog in reader.

  • http://www.korwelphotography.com Iza

    I love this tip, it is a great post. What worries me that the styling like it requires some experience and feeling, which is hard to train. With that, let me go and try some :).

  • Ritesh

    You have to ask Sala from veggiebelly.com about the secrets of taking great pictures too. I think her blog is super amazing! I saw your comment on hers and came to check your space. You have a great blog/idea here which I am sure is going to help a lot of amateur food bloggers out there.

    • http://www.learnfoodphotography.com/about Neel

      Thanks Ritesh. I am trying to interview photographers and will see what I can do there :) Thanks.

  • MariamTarek

    Where could I take food styling courses??
    Is there universities or studios that give such courses?

    • http://www.learnfoodphotography.com/about Neel

      Mariam, Don’t know if there are universities that give such courses. I know there are workshops that are available in some locations (mainly LA and Seattle). There are some institutes that provide culinary courses that talk about basics of plating.

  • http://foodientravelbug.blogspot.com Mei Teng

    I see your point in adding something to that blank space on the top right hand corner of the photo. Didn’t think of that. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stacy

    Food styling takes a bit of practice I think, and a lot of patience. How long do you normally take to think about the different styles and settings for your food photos?

  • Scar Face

    and to add to this, if you are a food stylist for Photo shoots, you are sometimes forced to use raw ingredients specially the meat even if the original dish is a cooked one to make the food look delicious in photos.

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