Food Styling: Three sides of food styling and my 20 tips

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips

The feedback that I got from my last post, it looks like I’m going to write more about food photography. I can’t be happier to hear that because photography is the one thing that makes me happy. When I can help someone with their food photography, then I’m even more pleased. You just have to be honest with me when I need to stop. The problem is that I can speak about photography all day long. Before I continue I must say that these tips are just from my own experience and have helped me on my journey. I don’t give you a tutorial here and I just share some tips that have helped me.  🙂

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips by HealthyLaura

Food styling is one of the most powerful tools that can help you with your food photography. It can make your images spot on, or it can ruin the whole image. It’s a powerful tool you need when you are interested in food photography. If you don’t have a professional food stylist working with you, then you just have to learn how to do it yourself. Even when you don’t feel like you have the artistic mind, then I can tell you that I don’t have that spirit as well.

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips by HealthyLaura

You can learn food styling by reading, watching videos and most importantly practicing. Learn more about food photography, and you will learn the styling at the same time. You just have to find your creative side. I think that every one of us has the creative mind that needs to be discovered. Over the past few years of practicing food photography almost every day, I can say that I have made some progress. As you can see on the image from 2015, my food styling “skill” isn’t the best if we are going to be polite.

How I learned food photography and food styling

I’m not saying that I know everything right now, I’m just saying that you can get better by learning and practicing. Even though I have been practicing for some time, I still feel like I have so much more to learn and I don’t know everything. It’s a journey, and I like to think that I’m at the beginning of mine. All I need to do is to enjoy the process.

Baking time

I have to remind you that food styling is one of the things that is very subjective and everybody have their preferences and style. Think of it like fashion or interior design. Some people like some jeans or hats others don’t like them. Some people like some curtains or chairs others don’t. In the end, all you would like to do is to develop your style that makes you happy.

When I think about food styling, then usually I try to focus on three parts. Like every other photography area, such as landscape or portrait, food photography is the same. You have to start with basics. I find that food styling has three parts: technical side, light, and composition.

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips by HealthyLaura

Part I: Technical side

The technical side for food styling is quite minor compared to the composition. The most important thing here is to understand the basics. Make sure you know what means aperture, focus, shutter speed, white balance and ISO. You have to understand the aperture and focus when you would like to shoot some artistic images where you can make the background blurry and the main part of the image sharp.

Shutter speed and ISO is important to understand when you would like to shoot the food when it’s moving. Such as powdered sugar or water. I’m not going to cover all the technical aspects of this posts and if you don’t know what these words mean, then read more about it or take some basic photography courses in Udemy or Lynda.

You can always go to Youtube, but I recently have found that paid courses are sometimes better because you will get a nice structure and it’s easier to understand. I have been taking a lot of classes in Udemy, and I still take many courses there. So far these courses have been good. I use Lightroom almost every day, but I still found some new tricks.

Part II: Light

Photography is all about finding the light. Food photography isn’t anything different. Light is one of the tools that can make ordinary images into exciting images. Most of the food images are taken using natural light. However, I have seen some fantastic images with artificial light.

The light itself is a longer topic, and I’m not going to cover it here. All you need to know about food styling and light at this point is that light is your tool for styling. You can tell the story and show the mood of the image.

Matcha Latte & Food Photography

Part III: Composition

An essential part of food styling is the composition. That’s the part where you can show your creative side. Even if you also feel like you are not that artistic, I advise you to play around with your composition. It might just take some practice to find your creative side. Look at my other post and have a digital detox.

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips

Most importantly you need to focus on these key points when you make your composition:

1. Balancing element – Who is the hero? How do you show your hero?

Blueberry & Blackberry Nice Cream (Smoothie Jar)

2. Leading lines – Where should your eyes go?

Three Characters and Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips

3. Symmetry and patterns –What can you use to build layers?

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips: #5 texture

4. Viewpoints – What’s the essential part of the image? Which angle is the best?

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips: #1: which angle?

5. Backgrounds – Start collecting or making your photo backgrounds.

Make background for food photography

6. Depth – Where the image starts and where it ends? Where is your focus? What’s the depth of field?

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20: Cropping

7. Cropping – How to frame the image?

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips: #7: cropping

My Most Important Tips for Food Photography:

1. Negative space – Leave some room for the viewer. When the image is too crowded, then usually I feel like I don’t know where should I look. Think of it like you are styling an expensive house. Probably you are not going to put the house full of furniture so that you can’t even move around there. Leave some room for your viewer so that he or she can move around in the “house”.

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips: #7: depth

2. S-line – when I don’t know how to compose the image, then I just try to make the S-line with the food. It is a useful tool to balance the image.

3. Aperture – Play around with smaller and larger aperture. Make some creative choices with it. Make a blurry background or put something in front of the lens so that the viewer knows better where he or she should look.

4. Make a mess – … WAIT, now I’ll stop you with my tips, and you have to read some advertising part. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, right? 🙂 If you liked this free content and you would like to read more about food styling, then please subscribe to my email list. It helps me, and then I know you like this kind of food photography information. You will get free access to all of my food styling tips. Well almost free, you have to give me your precious email and hopefully the real one, not the fake one where the spam goes. 😀 Don’t worry I won’t spam you that much.

Food Styling 101: Three sides of styling and 20 tips by HealthyLaura

It took me a long time to put together all of these tips, and I hope you all understand that. You will get a free PDF with my food styling tips and other PDF with smoothie bowl recipes. I will explain more about how I think when I make my composition and give you extra 17 tips for food styling. I will also explain a little bit about “the rule of thirds” in food photography. If you have already subscribed to my list, then I’m sorry you have to read this. Just look into your mailbox for your PDF.

I hope that these little tip were useful and you found at least one new food styling tip that will help you with your food photography. What are your favorite tips and tricks? What are your struggles in food photography? Let me know in the comments or write me an email.

Free resources with my food styling tips and exclusive recipes! Well, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, right? Almost free, you have to give me your precious email. 🙂
Don’t worry I won’t spam you that much. Only maybe once a week when there's a new post.

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    • Thanks! I’m happy to hear that it was useful. To be honest, it’s not two years. One year (or something like ten months) I didn’t photograph food at all because I was traveling.

  1. I have come a long way but I could REALLY work on my food styling…I need to learn how to use my camera first – I definitely don’t use it to it’s capacity!

  2. Great post Laura, these have been so helpful to me. I’d like to see you maybe walk through one of your shoots from start to finish? I’m off to check out those classes, thanks for the links!

    • Oo, thanks! Yes, I will have a new post about all my background secrets soon. However, if you already asked then the marble is actually fake. 😀 I was too cheap to buy the real one which usually costs 100 euros or more. You can find it on Amazon or other stores.