September 30, 2011

Tavola Blogger Breakfast Part 2 – Food Styling

In my first article on the Tavola Blogger Breakfast I focused on kitchen knives, what each knife is used for and how to care for your knives.  In this second review of the event, I will cover some tips you can use in food styling for your blog.  

Food styling for food blogging is something that I’m still working on myself, however top Food Stylist, Fiona Archibold, makes it all looks so effortless.  Here are some of her tips to make ordinary food look delicious on camera:

1.  Food stylists never eat the food they are styling because it’s considered bad luck or taboo.  I’m sure many food bloggers will exclude this rule since many of us are photographing our dinner!   Another reason for not eating the food is because it’s prepared in advance (or the day before) and neither refrigerated nor entirely cooked.  Who would want to eat that?
2.  Keep a mini-toolkit on hand for all your food styling tools, brushes, wipes, cooking oil, blow torch etc.  If you really want to look the part, wear a tool belt around your waist. 


3.  Give yourself enough time to style and photograph each dish – Fiona uses approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours per dish. 

4.  Keep a little of the cooking juices aside in a small bowl.  You can use this to brush or drizzle over the food to make it look juicy.  You can also use cooking oil, for example if you want meat to look more appetizing for the camera. 

5.  For stews, the ingredients are cooked separately (meat, vegetables and sauce) and then built up onto the dish, one ingredient at a time.

6.  Use halved toothpicks and pins to help keep the food in place.

7.  Keep a herb box filled with fresh herbs for decorating food.  Use damp paper towels to keep them fresh for longer. 

8.  Use various sized paint brushes to brush over oil or sauce.  If you have a big, ugly blob of sauce, use the paint brush to paint it away. 

9.  Add texture on top of food by sprinkling with course pepper and salt flakes. 

10.  If you’re making a side dish, like potato gratin, prepare it the day before and set it in a mold overnight.  The next day unmold it onto a plate and use a blow torch to add colour to the top.  This makes the food look less dry.  Top with grated parmesan and fresh herbs. 

11.  To add steam to the photo, burn incense sticks in the background. 

12.  Rub dull looking nuts, such as pistachios, with a little oil. 

13.  Keep little pots of the spices you used in the food and then use them for background props. 

 14.  Always elevate the food on a platter, or use a glass with a plate on top. 

15.  When styling pasta, toss the precooked pasta in a little of the sauce you prepared.  Using your hands, take the pasta, little by little, and put it onto the plate.  Twist and twirl the pasta around, and remember to build it upwards on the plate.  Height is important in food styling.  Tuck in other cooked ingredients, such as prawns, around the pasta.  Use a pin to keep the prawn tail open.  Add one fork onto the plate. 

16.  For background props, get creative by using ordinary inexpensive pieces like a newspaper from a different country, Egyptian flat bread or you can place the plate onto the grass and shoot down onto the food.  A popular choice these days is to use a distressed wood photo backdrop.  

Do you have any other food styling tips?  Please share it below.