Today I thought I’d take a break from food photography and talk more about food styling. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again-I am by no means an expert or professional when it comes to food photography or styling, but in my 2+ years of blogging I’ve picked up a few things and watched how my photos have not only improved, but really transformed to define my style as a blogger and food blogger.
There are so many food blogs out there and it can be really hard to differentiate one’s self. But I have found that by identifying the types of food photography I’m drawn to and the style I like- I can better differentiate my own style, and slowly but surely- my blog. There are a couple of things I do when it comes to “styling” my photos, and I use that term lightly because again, I am not an expert. Here is my method:
Use a Consistent Background You may have noticed for my past few food posts that my backgrounds have been comprised of gray slate, white dishes, and occasionally some burlap thrown in. I would call this my “summer style” as I’m shooting most dishes on my patio to get the best light. The background is a combo of my patio tile, a Brooklyn Slate Board, a white tray from Target, and a piece of burlap.
In the winter I shoot on white fabric in my living room. I may change this up this fall/winter as I get better at manipulating light, but I will still stick to a clean look that primarily highlights the food.
I will occasionally throw in other fabrics, especially for holidays, but overall I prefer something simple and not too busy, so I try to stick to that to best express my style.
Determine Text Usage I was not so clear about this initially. Once I started learning Photoshop and I was capable of putting text on photos I thought “Great! I can do it, therefore I should do it!” Wrong. I like clean, simple, classic dishes. I like clean and crisp photos. Text can make things too busy. Yes- I do use text on some photos, like this series when it’s necessary or for non-food related posts, but for the most part all recipe posts contain no text. I mean honestly, how bad is the text in these red velvet whoopie pie photos? Ugh I cringe, they’re not even the same color and the font is awful! Learn from your mistakes- I use the same font and color on all Plate to Pixel posts. That doesn’t mean text on food photos is bad, though. Tracey’s blog, Shutterbean, uses text really well- she knows how to mix and match fun fonts and graphics to complement her photos, and the overall design corresponds to her blog voice and content.
Look to the Experts The ideal goal is to have someone be on Pinterest and recognize your photo as from your blog without having to look at the source. It’s a pretty lofty goal, but think about it- you know a Smitten Kitchen photo instantly. Joy the Baker does this really well too, with her consistently colorful and playful backgrounds. There is not only a strong consistency to the style of both their photos, but the way in which they capture a dish being prepared is consistent. That brings me to my next point…
Define Your Food Prep Style When I first start blogging about food, I felt like I needed to capture every little step of a recipe- photograph the flour, photography the egg that goes in, and so on and so forth. It took forever and I didn’t really enjoy the process. Now my goal is to show a portion of the food prep process, but not the whole thing. So for instance in Monday’s post I showed a shot of the raw pasta and the sauce on its own, but not the pasta going into the water or the tomatoes on their own. There is no right or wrong here, I believe it’s just a matter of keeping things consistent. Some bloggers do a great job of showing only the finished dish. Do what works for you and stick to it!
Woo, that was a lot! But I truly think it’s all worth thinking about it. I’m still working to accomplish all these things, but focusing my efforts makes things so much simpler. Do you have any food photography or photography styling tips? I’d love to hear!