Prop styling in food or product photography requires careful planning. I’ve read some people do yoga before they start styling their food, crazy as it may sound, but thinking how to shoot it, the mood, the atmosphere they want to communicate to the viewers is something NOT “a-piece-of cake”. It’s a lot of HARDWORK.
If you attended my workshop you might have remembered what I said about the “Begin with the end in mind” principle? I borrowed it from my favorite author, Stephen Covey. It means you begin it with the clear vision in mind, or to put it simply start something with the outcome in mind hindi pwedeng bahala na si batman.
The more time you spend making the food pretty and attractive, the easier things are when it comes to taking the shot.
Pick a recipe book and you’ll be overwhelmed by the array of recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about. Observe it, sometimes you do not buy it because of the recipe, you buy it because of the all the beautiful food photos.
Anyway, I will not go any further, here are 6 tips to help you improve your food photography styling.
1. Use a portion of the food, be a little less generous.
Look at this picture for example, I didn’t take the entire batch of cookies, cupcakes and cakes and place it in the table and took its picture. Though, it may seem more generous to serve plates piled high with food, an over crowded plate can look less appealing compare to the picture below.
Think about how you can use the white space of the plate to frame your dish. (This photo was taken a couple of years ago for an Iranian Bakeshop in Greenhills.)
2. Stage a nice background
The background should help tell a story about the subject you will photograph. You just don’t place your subject on a blank wall, think something more creative like this one in the picture, I made California Maki using the Sushi cookbook my good friend Cel gave me at Christmas.
Your viewers will connect the idea that the food you prepared was probably from the cookbook the food was resting on.
3. Allow food to spill over naturally
Getting a bit messy really helps to add movement and life to your photographs, rather than having everything confined to plates and bowls.
4. Choose simple bowls and tableware
While highly decorative and fancy plates are beautiful on their own, they can detract from the visual impact of the food. Plain plates, especially classic white allow the food to be the star.
5. Capture the ‘yummy’ factor
Think about what makes your subject really yummy and then aim to highlight this characteristic in your shot. I choose this medium rare steak because I always think that steak is very “malinamnam” specially when it’s medium rare. Depends on you… Try and think about what it is that makes a particular dish look delicious and then serve it in a way to flaunt it.
6. Be playful.
Sometimes you need to perk things up. Don’t be afraid to be playful with your photos specially if your subject really looks boring in the end. It doesn’t hurt to be playful once in a while.
To your “shooting” inspiration.