Saturday, October 5, 2013

DIY Food Styling

Something I am entirely envious of and basically unskilled at is styling products for photoshoots. This is why I have never done a "what's in my bag" post or styled my jewelry for a photoshoot, and why my food photos always seem to fall so short of Pinterest standards. 

The key to shooting food (or any other object) is flattering light, above all else. My old apartment used to have more natural light than necessary (it kept fading all of our photos) and white walls, making it the perfect photo space. It's key to use only natural light when styling objects in your own home. If you have a studio set up then clearly you already know more than I do, so stop reading. If you can't use natural light, make sure you're only using one type of lighting (e.g. external flash or lamplight). 

The next two key ingredients for styling are: great props like newspaper, slate boards, planks of gorgeous wood, parchment paper, flowers, garnishes, etc, and a good lens that allows you to use a really small depth of field and adequately blur your background.

Sitting at home this Saturday with a terrible headache, I decided to foray into some styled shoots to see if I could take a passable food photo. I was pretty happy with the tea shots. For this shoot I used a mini succulent, loose tea bags, a wooden sugar spoon, and a slate board and it's burlap cover for styling tools. I also shot this outside, which may seem weird for food, but made a huge difference in the quality. Inside my lighting is terrible. 

I clearly wasn't making any meals today besides cereal so I did a still life of some candles and pears. For this shoot, I felt like my colors were a bit off and the pears too vibrant. I did learn one important trick though - I photoshopped my pears. I know that sounds really weird, but these pears had significant blemishes that just weren't photo-ready.

A great tip for photographing actual food in white dishes is to use parchment paper to cut the harsh edges of the dish or distract from the porcelain. 

I think that using the right type of glassware for cocktail shots makes all the difference. A perfectly frosted glass can look so much better than one that's been freshly washed and still wet. Or a martini glass in lieu of an old-fashioned glass can add some glamour to your drink. For this shoot I used my grandmother's antique champagne coupes. Upon looking back at this photo, I wish I had added a swizzle stick or cute set of stirrers below the glass. I also wish a sprig of lavender or a mint leaf had been added to the cocktail - just to give it some depth.

I was kind of excited by this first try at food styling and hope to make a dish sometime soon (more likely a cocktail) that can be styled in a similar way. I'm going to, in the meantime, try to collect some items that would be great props and figure out how the heck to get my white balance in check!


  1. wow ilike your photographys,
    very professional!
    i love taking Pictures but photographing Food (and Drinks) is for me really complicated.

    Hope you may visit my blog,too
    Your Amely Rose from:

  2. Food styling look great (: you're so damn talented! x

  3. Great recipe!!
    Follow me on

  4. Great post :)
    Would you like to follow each other? Just let me know ;)

  5. Great post - thanks for the tips, I have steered away from food posts because my snaps look so amateur

    xo, Nina

  6. Such good tips!!! I am such a huge fan of photography. I don't know that much about it but I love just playing around with my camera!

  7. Nice post! thanks for sharing. Also, thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm following you now, I hope you do the same to stay in touch. Have a great day!

  8. amazing photos !! <3
    what about follow each other?
    let me know :)
    have a nice day!

  9. great tips and pretty photos! i'm still learning soooo much from photography and can't wait to keep on learning more. i'm loving it so much so far.
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

  10. I think your photos look great! I on the other hand, have ZERO skill when it comes to styling anything - I so badly wish I did though!!

  11. You did a great job!


© kelsey malieMaira Gall