Food styling tips, awesome accounts and quick hacks sourced from a food stylist
A few years ago, food would be styled and shot only for commercials, or at best magazine spreads. Today, however, that has changed with many millennials doubling up as mini influencers, ready with their phone cameras and filters at every cafe, restaurant or street stall. In fact, food styling and photography have become full-time professions for many, with several online classes and workshops also on offer. The advent of finer technology and an array of easy photo-editing apps has helped make the art of food documentation available to the masses. Add to that an exhaustive range of filters, easy gadgets like ring lights and hand-held tripods, and what you have is a culture where the camera always eats first.
So, to understand more about this trend, we reached out to Natasha Celmi, chef, food stylist and the author of the best-seller book, Fast, Fresh Flavourful. Elaborating on some of the governing principles of food styling and photography, she shares, "Food is always the hero and not the crockery or accessories. Mute the colours of the background, serveware and props so that focus remains on the food. Make sure the ingredients and props are connected with the dish in some way."
Five quick tips
We also asked Celmi for 5 quick tips that'll prove to be handy, the next time you're clicking food picks, and here's what she suggests: :
1.Before investing in professional backdrops, start off with sheets of coloured and textured paper, solid colour table mats and napkins.
2. Use simple thermocol boards to bounce off natural light and brighten your set up.
3. Make sure your food looks fresh and your herbs are not bruised and dry. The camera cannot conceal much in this matter. Soak your fresh herbs in ice water half an hour before shooting.
4. Use serveware in neutral shades and styles that match the cuisine. For example, for Indian dishes, I would use earthenware, copper or silver but for an Italian rustic look, I would pick wood and ceramics.
5. Decide on a dark moody look or a bright sunny look based on whether the dish is suitable for summer or winter, casual lunch or a formal evening meal.
To make things fun, we've also curated a list of food stylists you can follow for daily inspiration. Check it out.
Indian Instagram accounts we love:
Alok Verma - @/allaboutthatpalate
Having been featured in well-known publications like The Asian Age, The Times of India, The French Press, Better Homes and Garden magazine, Alok Verma is one of the most well-reputed food stylists in India. He has even bagged quite a few awards, such as IFBA award for his work and his Instagram feed is testament to that.
Deeba Rajpal is a baker, food stylist, and photographer with 15+ years of experience in the industry. She is of the firm belief that the presentation of the food is as important as the taste. She conducts workshops periodically to teach food styling and photography and has signed her first dessert cookbook, which is due for release in March 2021.
Madhuri Aggarwal's food styling is a combination of vivid colours and tasteful crockery, and her background as an artiste and designer is well reflected in all her work. Her stylised Instagram feed is a visual treat for anyone who enjoys food and design.
With an arsenal of clients like McDonald's, Baskin Robbins, Spotify, and GoodFood magazine, Nitin Tandon's food styling chops are popular in the F&B industry. If you're looking to foray into food styling for magazines, TVCs, or other digital platforms, you must absolutely check out Tandon's account.
Baker, food photographer and freelance food stylist, Chauhan started her journey with a blog she set up back in 2010, where she shared her experiences as a newlywed and to document family recipes. The Novice Housewife's blog is a must-follow for all those who are starting out in the field of food content.
DIY backdrops for food photography, lighting, camera settings, colour combinations and website portfolios are only some of the many things that Joanie Simon teaches you about on her YouTube channel, The Bite Shot. Simon is like a one-stop destination for all your styling and photography related doubts.
Based out of Cape Town, Sam Linsell is a renowned food stylist and photographer and cookbook author. Linsells's food blog DrizzleandDip.com has won her multiple awards and her work has been recognized by several international magazines and digital publications. Trust Linsell's Instagram page to give you all the inspiration you need.
With over 100 thousand subscribers, Rishon Hanners' YouTube channel, Well Done, is a big name when it comes to food styling. From curating charcuterie boards and making sushi rolls to styling birthday cakes, she has great insight on all. If you've often wondered why the food on TV commercials look as good as they do, follow Hanners.
Julie Lee's Instagram would be our recommendation if you are looking for inspiration on how to style fresh ingredients and farm produce. Lee's approach to food styling is playful and innovative. She also has a Skillshare class titled, Styling Food for Instagram: Creating Collages to Photograph, where you can pick up on important cues.
A professional food stylist from Romania, Adina Chitu has amassed quite an audience on her Instagram page. She uses mostly monochromatic colour palettes against dark backgrounds to style her food, resulting in vivid food pics, where the ingredients stand out.
Manal is a gregarious and ambitious girl who talks about bread incessantly. Her penchant for writing and aesthetics transcends into everything she does. She loves researching the culture and history of things. When she's not writing, you can find her working on a dozen unfinished projects, and consuming an unhealthy amount of art.