With this post, we’re going to talk food styling! Food styling + a bonus recipe, to be precise. Hope this will make up for my absence of the last week or so 🙂
Do you think food styling is hard? Or something that’s full of weird practices, tools and odd stuff? Think twice. I decided to share with you tree of my favorite go-to practices for food styling, with a special consideration for pouring shots. Aren’t they intimidating when you have to do all the work by yourself? Knowing I have to get myself a pouring shot sure scares me everytime.
The thing is, you have to envision the shot before starting to actually work on it. This is key for any successful shot, but crucial when you are short on time or cannot count on any extra help. Specifically, if you already have in mind the props that you’re going to use, how you will set them, and what kind of shots you’re after, everything should flow smoother. They say failing to prepare is preparing yourself to fail. That’s true.
I’ve already rambled on this post about the complexity of creating content (video, photography – you name it) as a one-man-band. Now it is time to take action! Let’s see what we’re about to cover first, shall we?
props and composition.
Please note, everything works both with a natural and artificial light workflow. Also, I am no professional, and this is just my own experience – by no means a rule to be followed strictly! In fact, I am just as amateur as anyone else. Having spent three years studying in the field have gotten me nowhere. I just have a piece of paper that states my bachelor’s. And a whole lot of passion and curiosity and willingness to carve my place in this, that is.
That being said, when it comes to food photography and food styling I am a self-taught fella. With professional dreams, but that’s another (sad) story. We didn’t have a specific course back at uni, and although I may have absorbed some kind of general rules, I started shooting food and learning tricks by myself. Thank you, pinterest!
Sure enough, sometimes professionals can get a bit carried away. The way food styling is done in professional studios often results in a whole lot of trash. Nobody would ever want to eat leftover risotto that smells like a bottle of vinegar, right?
I’m not going to talk those magazine-worthy tricks. We’ll cover simple steps and tricks to help you style and shoot your food easier and faster. Those actually happen to be my go-to habits when it comes to food styling, so here’s where it comes.
When setting and preparing for a shoot, I always ask myself what kind of mood I am after first. This is what is going to determine what kind of props I will pick later on, and also how I will be setting the light.
If you’re going for a light and summery feel, white, blue and generally pale shades, with just a hint of overall blue hue, play a very nice game here. Always remember the quality of the food you’re going to shoot: for example, a pale or watery liquid won’t be easy to capture on a very bright surface/backdrop.
props and composition.
Since we’re planning for a pouring shot, we’ll likely shoot it in a portrait size. Therefore, try to pick props that have different height, so that you’ll be able to build your scene with a variety of perspective layers. It can be glass bottles, glasses, different bowls, and even boxes or cutting boards. Props that have the same height will result either in a flat image or look weird due to the perspective. If you want to enhance the depth of an image, placing props strategically will make a huge difference. Play with the objects that you chose, build up layers and try different composition schemes. Personally, I like to place my props in a zig-zag or “S” pattern.
Make sure to frame the image considering the space that your hand and the actual poured food will take up. This means you’ll have to know your negative space game, and also how the props interact with the addition of your hand.
When it comes to pouring shots, or any shot that requires me to act for the camera, I always use a tripod. Manual exposure and especially manual focus is crucial here. I’m not comfortable with the remote + autofocus combo: I find it rather unreliable, as the camera can shift focus when you won’t be able to fix it (e.g. on set, acting for the camera). If you like using the remore controller, go ahead and fire those shots!
So here’s what I do. Props are placed, camera is on the tripod, everything is ready to go. Before taking the food itself into the scene, I check my exposure and focus mocking the very same action I will be playing later. Say we want to capture a stream of milk poured into the blender. To do so, I adjust the focus on the outer rim of the blender. Then I further refine it towards the centre, or where the actual stream will fall. If the container is half-filled already, you can focus on the same plane of the food that’s already on set, so you’ll be sure to capture the milk stream perfectly in focus.
To shoot this kind of images, I always fire multiple exposures automatically. To do so, set your camera on selfportrait mode, allowing 10 sec worth between the click and the actual shots, if possible. You’ll have plenty of time to position yourself and get ready to act for the camera. You’ll also want to check if your camera has the option to fire multiple shots in a row. If so, set at least 5 shots, with 1/2 to 1 sec between each one. This will increase your chances to capture the perfect shot.
When you’ve practiced the moves enough without the food, it’s time to bring the hero on stage!
Here we have a very green smoothie, creamy and full of nutrition. I think I mentioned it in this post: remember when I said you shouldn’t tell your boyfriend that he’s drinking dinner for breakfast? Well, here we are. Frozen peas are my go-to backup option when I run out of protein powder! Pinky promise, banana and kiwi will hide the pea flavor to perfection.
Sesame seeds will provide extra protein and flavor, and not to mention, they’re super rich in calcium!
Here’s everything I have to say for this mini peek into my usual workflow/behind the scenes. Once again, everything reflects my personal experience and preferences, and I’m not here so say I am the most talented photographer on earth. It’s quite like the opposite.
Anyways, I hope you liked this post! If you did, or if there’s anything else you’d like me to show you about my workflow, let me know! Find me on instagram, pinterest, bloglovin’ and food52. You can also drop me a line below, or use the contact form. let’s be friends!
If you ran out of protein powder but want your breakfast to be protein packed, go grab that bag of frozen peas and add them to the smoothie. Yay for wholefoods and plant protein!
- 1 ripe banana, frozen
- 1 kiwi, peeled and quartered
- 50 g frozen peas
- a handful baby spinach
- 150 ml soy milk
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy, and enjoy!