Food styling vs. food composition?
What’s the difference between these two food photography categories? Are they connected or should we separate them?
Bottom line? It bothered me, and I decided to do my research to understand the difference.
Above all, I found it quite confusing🙄since often food photography composition vs. food styling is SMASHED together. Yes, I used to mixed these together as well.
I believe we should separate food styling & food photography styling. In addition, food composition & food photography composition.
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These are just my thoughts, and I don’t know everything. I’m still learning. Some of you who are reading this might think otherwise and have different opinions. However, I believe that a different point of view is just part of photography. Still, I’m happy to hear your thoughts.
Confused: Food styling vs. Food Composition? Photography?
I believe, food photography composition and food photography styling for me is a connected  subjective and creative process that is individual for each person. Therefore, there are no right and wrong answers.
There are only basic techniques that food photographers can use. Still, we can always ignore them and create our own. It’s a form of art and depends a lot on the viewer’s eye.
Food Photography Composition: Guiding the Viewer’s Eye on the image
It’s a “/…/ a way of guiding the viewer’s eye towards the most important elements of your work, sometimes – in a particular order. A good composition can help make a masterpiece even out of the dullest objects and subjects in the plainest of environments.” Even focal length, aperture and angle are part of the composition.
Food Photography Styling: Make it Mouthwatering on the image
On the other hand, food photography styling is something we try to do to make the food beautiful, delicious and mouthwatering on the image. No question, that a food photographer should always try to capture as tasty images as possible.
Food photography composition and food photography styling are a connected process on the image. For that reason, the final image should be a result of a technical process, composition, and styling.
Food styling & food composition? Deodorant?
In contrast, food stylists job is to make the food itself mouthwatering. It doesn’t always have to be for photography. Therefore, it can be for films or other media categories. That’s the place where food stylists might make the food look amazing but completely unedible. They might use a clue, deodorant, shoe polish & other crazy things. For example, in this video food stylist made a raw turkey looks amazing …
How is this helpful? Search & System
For that reason, I can use basic photography composition “rules” such as rule of thirds, golden ratio & rule of “odds” (read my post here). As a result, I don’t see any reasons not to apply these classic photography composition techniques to my food photography composition.
In contrast, I can search for food styling tips as a separate category. For that reason, I can “steal” 😅 some trick & hacks from a chef & food stylists, who know how to make the food delicious.
- Food photography composition = guiding the viewer’s eye on the image 😎
- Food composition = guiding the viewer’s eye on the food itself
- Food photography styling = making it mouthwatering, delicious & beautiful on the image 😎
- Food styling = making the food itself mouthwatering, delicious & beautiful 😍
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Updated information: 31.10.2018.
 Medium. Ramya Menon. The Beginners Guide to Composition in Food Photography: How to Transform your Food Photos from Good to Bloody Beautiful. (31.10.2018).
 Photography Life. What is Composition in Photography? (11.09.2018).
Nicole S. Young. Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots. Chapter 3. Peachpit Press 2015.