Food Styling Tips

Our food stylist, Charisse van Kan, is the one of the talented magicians that makes all of the food in our magazines look so good. As she explains in this post, there is much more to food styling than preparing a lovely dish and plating it nicely.

Food styling is an art and a skill, but one that anyone can learn more about, if they’re interested. Getting the food to look just right is a combination of prep work, inspiration and luck. Having the space to store all of your props and a studio with lots of natural light are two nice elements for a professional working environment, especially if you’re shooting on a commercial budget. But if you’re simply looking to up your Instagram game, the following tips are great for getting started…

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#1. Start with the recipe.

Read the recipe, think about what you can do to improve the recipe and visualise how the dish will look. If the recipe is for a casserole, curry or stew this would work best with a warmer styling, so the mood that would be portrayed with this would be dark , wintry comforting. If the recipe is for an ice-cream, salad or milkshake this will suit a lighter, brighter set up.

Think about what colour the food is and what other ingredients can be used to lift and brighten the food. For example, with a brown stew, adding carrots or butternut squash, peas or a some chopped green herbs at the end will make the dish more appetising. Another option is to use colourful props.

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#2. Choose props and backgrounds to match mood.

We have a selection of fabrics in different colours and textures, wooden boards, metal and stone backgrounds. We also have an extensive prop area, which includes everything from party supplies to seasonal decorations.

If you do not have either of these you may buy or make your own backgrounds. You can also source props from markets or charity shops, which is a cost-effective option when you need a variety of props. The plates don’t have to match or be a whole set, as you’re often only using one or two in any shoot.


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#3. Go small.

When shopping for or selecting props always pick smaller sizes. Food always looks and photographs better on smaller plates. The type or style of plates and props will again depend on the mood or feel, e.g vintage plates for an afternoon tea or tea party. For a picnic, you’ll want to focus on the rustic, including baskets, wooden cutlery, string, lunch boxes or metal tins. Pastel and matte shades work well for spring. Vintage silverware, baking tins and trays add a lovely feel to a shot, especially if you’re looking for something to add a bit of character.

Need a bit of help with food styling for your brand? We have the expertise, space and talent to facilitate a complete photo shoot in-house, so let us know how we can be of service!