Do you want to be a Food Photographer or Food Stylist?

I just attended a Food Photography Workshop at Canon Experience Center, which summarized a Food Photographer’s typical day and tasks on a photo shoot.

In order to become a successful photographer, you must have good business skills because you are basically an entrepreneur always seeking work as well as making relations and contacts. It involves sales skills and managing your business. Most photographers are independent, and they often have to travel a lot, sometimes all over the world, for jobs. Therefore, photographers, especially the ones starting out, need to save money as well as become very creative, since they cannot afford expensive and required tools. But there is hope. There are do-it-yourself alternative tools that can help struggling photographers get the job done.

I will provide some tips on becoming a Food Photographer and Food Stylist, which really isn’t any different from any other type of photographer or stylist. Food Photographers and Food Stylists are just specialized in different foods and different ways in creating food art.

#1 Direct Lighting and Research

When photographing food, make sure you use direct lighting, which comes from the front of the food, not behind the food, in order to show the details. Lighting from behind makes the subject appear flat, which is better for photographing people. Food and items need hard light in order to display the detailed texture. Using a big window or an open garage door is perfect for doing your own home studio photo shoots because it is similar to strobe lighting.

It is also important to do a lot of research on different foods in order to be able to make it look like it is supposed to look like. For example, a fresh cup of coffee always has bubbles on top. So, it is important to make sure the cup of coffee being photographed has bubbles on top in order to make it appear fresh.

#3 The Photo Shoot

  1. Change angles and be creative with your camera.
  2. Tell a story.
  3. Create a website to display and promote your photographs.
  4. Add layering to create dimension, which showcases the food better, as well as makes sure the colors and textures are coordinated.
  5. Use a tripod to maintain steadiness and stillness.
  6. The composition is important when photographing food, but make sure there is a balance.
  7. To practice photographing food, you might want to go to a farmer’s market. Create a story with a series of snapshots about the vendors and the food that they sell.
  8. When laying out the food on a dish, along with other props, play with the food, which might involve breaking parts to better position them in an attractive and appetizing way.
  9. Pay attention to certain details for creating themes, such as certain cups, mugs, dishes, napkins, and other props that have certain colors and designs. Choose everything that you want to use with intention in order to create what you have in mind.
  10. Know everything about the food that you are currently working with, which might involve research, googling information, and buying it from a store.
  11. Add fresh leaves to a food dish for decoration. Consider citrus and mint leaves.
  12. Always experiment, explore, research, and think outside the box. A photographer is an artist, who always needs to stand out by doing things differently from other photographers as well as being creative.

#4 Do-it-yourself photography tools enable problem-solving unexpected photo shoot issues.

  1. Skewers
  2. Elmer’s Reusable Poser Tack
  3. Little cups
  4. Coat hangers
  5. Brick painted black
  6. Cine Foil, which looks like black aluminum foil
  7. Toothpicks—used to stick food together for composition arrangement and organization.
  8. Petroleum jelly is used to make dry food shiny.
  9. Forceps
  10. Many scissors in different sizes.
  11. Hot glue
  12. Culinary Torch
  13. Fake ice cubes
  14. Straws with bending section
  15. Dripless Baster
  16. Glue Gun
  17. Denture gum glue
  18. Q-Tips
  19. Double-sided tape
  20. Spray bottle with water
  21. Steam Chips to create steam for a photo shoot. You can also microwave a potato to create steam for five minutes.
  22. Mashed potatoes are used to fill certain props and add extra weight. It is also used for controlling the other food items in the food scene from moving out of place.

#6 Hire a Food Stylist

If you can afford it, then it is advisable to hire a Food Stylist through an agency. They make a lot of money because their work is very specialized and detailed. They know how to work with different foods to create art. Stylists also cook the food to make sure that the particular dish looks a certain way for the photo shoot. But most photographers are likely to be their own Food Stylist in order to save money. Do research on the particular food as you figure out different ways to creatively and artistically displaying the art sculpture food dish.

#7 Create Promotion Marketing Material: Books, Magazines, Brochures and Postcards

Instead of business cards, it is advisable to create a 24-page printed magazine of your photographs, which is used for promotional marketing purposes given out to clients and potential clients. You can create this magazine on MagClouds and Blurbs.  But you should get potential clients’ business card in order to call them in the future and do business.

You can do-it-yourself via templates on various programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop is also good for editing purposes because you might later need to tweak some photographs,  improve certain areas, and fix issues.


What do you think?