Normally when it comes to “food styling” the most I have to work with are the salt and pepper shakers, the placement of the cutlery or deciding on napkin/no napkin…however, wanting to venture more into the world of recipe sharing I felt the need to up skill and was delighted to discover I was going to take part in Sarah of Emotive Light Photography‘s Food Styling workshop as part of the Eat Drink Blog 2014 program.
Sarah Bazar of Emotive Light Photography classifies herself not as a food stylist per say but more so as a “vignetter”, who partakes in the Interiors Addict #7vignettes competitions on instagram and studies photography due to a passion for “food porn”. The hands-on session was more about playing and getting a feel for using various props and shooting in different lights from various angles, which, was actually a whole lot of fun and strangely addictive as you’ll see from the dozen or so photos further below…
I did, however, pick up some useful tips on food styling that would assist both the novice DSLR user (i.e. me) or food instagrammers using primarily iPhone or Android.
1. It’s all about the light.
The best light we all know for shooting in is soft, natural light to avoid that “yellow” tone you get with night shooting at night or the overexposured effect of direct sunlight. To achieve the best result, you really need to be shooting between 6am and 8am when the light is still soft but luminous enough to filter through the entire frame. A top tip is “three-quarter-back shooting” where you ensure your subject is lit from the side or behind and you use white card to bounce back the light and fill the space on the other side.
A great example of someone who uses natural light extremely well is Instagrammer Just Coz It’s Tuesday, who avoids any night shooting and takes all her food photos during the day, simply because night shooting doesn’t achieve the desired effect and light isn’t right.
2. Props to props
Use whatever you might have lying around the house or pick up bits and pieces from $2 shops, craft stores, junk yards or even hard rubbish – as Sarah puts it you need to become a fabulous hoarder. Think outside the box too, for example tear up some pieces of corrugated cardboard for texture or scrunch up some baking paper or fabric. What do you have that well help your photo tell a story?
A few instagram accounts I absolutely love for their use of props in food photos are Local Milk, Road To Everywhere (seriously brilliant use of paper and colour and creating layers) and Naturally Meghan. Then of course you have the incredible food photographer and stylist Linda Lomelino, who somehow makes every cake look like it’s been dipped in a fairytale.
3. There are no rules
Whether you like the darker, more intense style of food photography or the lighter, more natural compositions there is no right or wrong. Play around, have fun and find what works for you. You might decide you prefer the “no props” look (I think Semi Vegan or Minimal Meals do this well on their instagram pages…or otherwise embellish away like ZPZLATA!). Essentially, create what you love and don’t be swayed by others.
So with the above in mind and my “from home prop” (my gorgeous Marketshed on Holland Oak chopping board I got in Adelaide) in hand, along with Sarah’s brownies that she lovingly prepared for the class I got stuck in! After I started out trying to achieve a ‘cafe/commercial’ aesthetic, I quickly decided it wasn’t working and made some swift tweaks…
For me, food always has a story to tell and because I had to resist all temptation not to eat my subject I had a bit of an inkling my photos should feature a fork…and lots of crumbs.
After I was content with what I had created, I did a bit of a walk around to check out some of the other bloggers work – it was wonderful to see how different everyone’s style was!
Many thanks again to all the ladies I shared the morning with (Eat Meets West you are an amazing confidence booster!) and to Sarah and Eat Drink Blog for facilitating the session. Food styling nailed (not really…but not bad for a first go!).
Have you tried your hand at the art of food styling and food photography? Please share your experience/work/tips below!