Food Plating and Food Styling for Your Camera

Food Styling TipsFood plating is a critical part of food photography. A great photographer may take great landscapes and jaw dropping wildlife photographs, but if the food is not plated well, there are very limited things a photographer can do. Understanding what makes a dish look appealing is not only crucial for a photographer but, in my opinion, mandatory.

4 Simple Food Plating and Styling Tips

If you are shooting food commercially, there will be a professional chef and a food stylist, who will take care of plating and styling. However, if you aspire to become a food stylist or are a food blogger who does her own food styling and food plating, this post will help you to understand some basics of plating and styling. If you have been cooking for a while and have tried to plate or style on your own, I am sure you understand that this is no easy task. As simple as it may seem, put food on plate and adding some supporting elements to the dish to make it look beautiful, is very challenging. We have listed 9 professional food styling tips previously, let’s talk about few more things in a bit detail.

Don’t Overcrowd the Plate

Remember what the monk said about food styling? Same applies here. Don’t put too much of stuff and clutter the plate. Keep it simple. Put only what is needed. Use serving size that is just right. Not too much, not too little. Use bigger plate to make the plate not too crowded.

Sauce it Up Visually

Sauces play an important role in plating and styling. They are appealing, can add color and make food interesting. Don’t use too much sauce though. Use it only to support the main dish, not to over power it. In other words, don’t drown the main food in the lake of sauce. Doing this will hide the main dish and defeat the purpose. Where should the sauce be in the plate? Well that depends on how thick the sauce is. If it is thick, usually a trail around the main dish is good enough. If the sauce is thin, it can be used below the main dish, in a minimal quantity.

Garnish the Food

Just like everything else we talked about, don’t over do the garnishing. Please don’t. Use fresh herbs. Try cilantro or parsley. Or sage or mint. Use something that goes along with the main dish. Then there are powders. Colored salt, powdered coffee or powdered spices to name a few. Garnishing can be done in a lot of ways. Almost always, it makes food interesting. Unless you overdo it.

Stacking can be Interesting

Stacked cookies, stacked pancakes or stacked brownies. Stacking creates another dimension to food – height. In most cases, its simple. All you need to do is put stuff over stuff over yet some more stuff. Now, this stuff may be a simple cookies or something complicated to stack like avocado salad. Depending on what you would like to stack, there are various tools of trade available in the market.


A Quick Update

Had a wonderful interview with Matt Wright on Sunday Apr 25 (update: this food photography interview is published) and am planning to do more interviews on Food Photography and Food Plating and Styling. If you have questions about food plating and food styling, leave a comment below.

Photo by ulterior epicure

  • I love the work of Matt Wright!!

  • Ann

    Nice article, thanks for the tips!

    • Glad you liked it Ann. Thank you for stopping by.

  • A great post with great info! You are absolutely right, stacking and giving height to food can be visually interesting :)I stick toothpicks into stacks where ever possible to hold them up.

    • Interesting suggestion. Toothpick in a stack? Reminds me a burger with toothpick… great idea.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • You have a beautiful website here. Nice tips in this post.A simple garnish can make the food visually attractive and make it come alive!

    • Anushruti,

      Garnishing makes a lot of difference. I think , as long as you don’t overdo it, it adds something interesting to a plate, making it very appealing.

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  • Ridelxbindings

    what was the picture at the top of? the one with the rice?

  • Taryne Jakobi

    Hi greats tips, I am a professional food stylist, and even I need reminding sometimes of the basics. Thanks for a great site!

  • Sylvie

    I really enjoy looking at dishes on glossy magazine pages and just learned some “practices” on photographing food recently. I have been doing some photography whenever I can but I haven’t really tried doing food photography. Your post really was a good input for me. I am looking forward to more food photography these coming days.

    Sylvie of

  • love this whole article. Very useful tips dear…

  • styling and serving is always a big task for me. i’ll keep checking on your page so that i can learn some 😛

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