Food Styling and Food Presentation Tips for Food Bloggers and Photographers – Interview with Adriana Mullen

Adriana Mullen InterviewFood presentation is tough. Who would be a better person to talk about food plating and presentation than a chef trained at French Culinary Institute. In this interview, we interview Adriana Mullen on how to make food look good for the camera. She also shares some things that should be avoided both artistically and legally.

Let’s Welcome Adriana Mullen

Adriana Mullen is a food photographer and professional chef with trained from French Culinary Institute, New York. Her portfolio is available at Adriana Mullen Photography and can be found on twitter @AdrianaMullen. Adriana, originally from Sardinia, Italy, has been living in New York for more than 20 years. In this interview, Adriana explains how to improve food presentation and shares some insights from a culinary point of view. This is a great interview for aspiring food photographers to learn about food styling.

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Important: We discuss some food photography laws in this interview. As you know, laws vary from place to place, please consult a lawyer for your specific case.

What is a Great Food Photo?

Here’s how Adriana defines a good food photo:

  • Emotionally moves you and affects you.
  • If you want to eat the photo, then the photo is dead on. It is good.
  • And the technical aspects should be

What else makes a good photo? We talk about this at 01:45

How To Use Flowers and Herbs The Right Way

Adriana has some strong opinion about using flowers and herbs. There is a right way to use flowers and in most cases you should avoid flowers. There are laws that should be followed. Similar to flowers, herbs should be used after a careful thought. Herbs are okay to use when it is really used in the recipe. There is more to it and lot of thought is put behind using flowers and herbs. Listen to what Adriana has to say about this topic at 20:26 mins in the interview.

Food Styling, Food Plating and Presentation Tips

  1. Don’t over plate the food
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Less is more – Use less food, less elements. (Read more about this Food Styling Tip)
  4. Blanch veggies – Instead of cooking the veggies, blanch them. Blanching the veggies is easy. Put veggies in hot water for few seconds and then cool them in ice water. The color will come out nice and bright.
  5. Don’t put too much sauces – In culinary world, too much sauce in plate is an indication that food may be not cooked well. It can be seen as you are trying to hide something.
  6. Know when to use flowers
  7. Use right herbs with the dish
  8. Stacking the food – trends like this one come and go.

Read more food styling tips discussed on this blog.

How To Take Raw Food Photos

In this section we talked about two photos taken by Adriana and she explains what was the thought behind the photo (remember that one question most of aspiring food photographer ignore, this is the answer you would get).

Photographing Tuna and Soft-Shell Crabs

The goal here was to show the freshness and juiciness of tuna. The light was coming from the left side of the frame and the light seems to be going through the tuna towards the edge. The black background complements the red color and makes the tuna stronger.

tuna photo Photographing Tuna – Image copyright of Adriana Mullen

Listen more about how this photograph was taken. In the interview, it starts at 29:18. We also talk about how Adriana shot this next photo. This soft-shell crab photo was shot early morning and light was sharp. In the interview, she explains how this photo was shot and the thought behind it.

soft-shell-crabsSoft-shelled Crabs – Image copyright of Adriana Mullen

Thank you Adriana

Thank you Adriana for taking time to talk to us about food plating and presentation.

If you would like to get in touch with Adriana, you can follow her on Twitter @AdrianaMullen

What did you think about this interview? How do you plate your dishes for photographing them? Do you use flowers in your food photos a lot?

Oh! and the Project (IDKTNOT) Update

Read more about food photography interview project. There were some great ideas that some of you suggested. If you haven’t helped us with this, I will really appreciate if you can help with this project.

  • Love the way the crabs were photographed. Lovely colour.

    • Thank you for your comment Mei.

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  • Enjoyed the interview! Thanks for taking the time, both of you!


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    I really loved this interview. There was a lot of New and useful information. Thank you both!

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  • I think a lot more could have been packed in the interview. Adriana seemed uninterested.

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  • Thank you so much, this interview was just what I was looking for. I feel more confident now about the dark backgrounds as I was unsure thinking white was the way to go. but I am more drawn to the darker backgrounds. Thank you