Food Photography : How To Style Stew

**Make sure you stop by The Ardent Epicure for their latest giveaway. Go on enter your chance to win a 2012 Spicie Foodie Calendar! http://www.theardentepicure.com/2011/12/holiday-giveaway-2012-spicie-foodie.html **

I have said for a while now that I’d have a new photography tutorial for you, alas here it is. Today we will be learning a very basic technique that will help improve your photos, styling. If you want to be serious about improving your food photography styling is one of the most important things you must learn. In this tutorial I am going to give you very basic samples that I promise will yield great results. Keep in mind there are hundreds of techniques you could use to style food photography and this tutorial is just one.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewFirst let’s start with a clean, simple photo. This photo is not great. The biggest problem is that it is just boring. Nothing but a plain bowl full of stew, boring. It doesn’t make you want to dig in so that makes it a bad photo.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewWhen we add a spoon to on side it improves a bit. But still a tad boring.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewNow we add some bread in the background and adjust the view or composition. Much better than the first photo but let’s keep going.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewHere we’ve changed the angle and added a little color from the green plant on the left side. Much better than the first photo. Don’t be afraid to play around with angles it can really change the feel of the photo.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewLet’s draw a bit more attention to the bowl contents. One way to do this is to add a dollop of sour cream. See how much better it looks than the first photo? Compare it to the third photo and you can see that there was improvement.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewLet’s see what happens when we add a little more color with herbs. Much better. It added more contrast to the photo. Adding the chopped herbs also helped draw your eye to the bowl contents, which is the main subject of our photo. Compare it again to the first and third photo. Better no?

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewAgain we experiment with the shooting angle. The previous photo is good but also changing the angle gives you a different perspective and better view of the bowl contents. Makes you want to dig in more than the first photo doesn’t it?

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewLet’s remove the cutting board with most of the bread loaf. I’ve rearranged the bread much like it would be placed when I sit down to eat the stew. Another way this photo could have been improved would have been to instead of having the spoon on the table it would have looked better inside the bowl. See the more we shoot and review our photos the more we learn and improve.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewThis view from above is also an inviting one. Not to happy about the spoon placement but again I’ve learned a lesson for next time. The way to improve this would be to zoom out a little more or place the spoon inside the bowl.

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech StewThis last photo is to show you that even if you don’t have a loaf of bread as a prop the first photo could be improved. Compare the starkness of the first photo to this photo. See the difference just a little dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of herbs and a spoon improved the photo? Its as simple as that.

There are literately hundreds of variations and techniques for styling food. When you are learning my best advice is to go the simple route. Don’t get caught up in things like the bowl must be wiped, there has to be an entire place setting, or that you need tons of props to snap a decent photo. Keep it simple. This tutorial is so simple and yet the improvements from the first photo are noticeable. I will be sharing more easy styling techniques for different types of foods in tutorials to come.

*Do you have any questions? What photography tutorial would you like to see next?*

In case you missed any of the previous photography tutorials here they are:
~ Food Photography : My Shooting Setup With Artificial Light
~ Food Photography : Understanding Camera Types
~ Food Photography : What Lights To Use When Sunlight Is Not Available

Food Photography Tutorials; How To Style Stew; Food Styling; photography tutorials; Spicie Foodie; Spicie Foodie Photo Tutorials, blogger photography; food bloggers photography; stew; chicken stew; Czech Stew

**Recipe for the stew can be found here, Goulashesque Chicken Stew **

 

Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie

 

Comments

  1. says

    Food styling, for some reason, is so hard for me — you’d think that as an artist I’d have a natural eye for that, but I don’t. Thanks for these tips! I’m constantly not getting onto foodgawker because my photos composition is “too tight” — which I think is their code for “put something else in the photo!”

    • says

      Hi Lauren, Styling is one of the hardest things to learn after the light. As I’ve suggested just start simple, keep practicing and it will all start to click. Foodgawker and the other food porn sites are difficult to get on for many, including myself. Try zooming out a little bit and that will also help with the square composition :) Thanks for reading!

  2. says

    I love the balance you created. I don’t know much about photography (studied a bit of design) I would really like to know: what kind of light do you use? Your pictures are always so beautiful :-)

  3. says

    There are some foods that definitely need styling to look attractive in photos, and stew is definitely one of them. Your props and angles definitely improve things!

  4. says

    You are so right – you know, I always keep some extra parsley on hand to add color to any brown dish I may make! Makes all the difference!

  5. says

    This is such a helpful post – I am still so new to this, and while my equipment is severely lacking, I also have much to learn about composition and styling. Lovely resource post!

  6. says

    You have such wonderful tips! I really appreciate you sharing. I always have issues with composition… I’m very sucky at it. I wonder if you can declare composition blindness. Maybe then Foodgawker will have some compassion and publish my images. I also have symmetry issues. Most of my shots are crooked; like they might need a V8. *Sigh*… I keep trying,, though – Maybe one day something will magically click…

    • says

      Hi Angela, Thank you and it is my pleasure. Composition is also hard, just keep practicing. Lol, that would be great if Foodgawker did that :) For the symmetry issue try to line up your camera’s view to a horizontal or vertical line in the subject you are shooting. Then recompose and shoot. Haha, a V8 – you are so funny :) Do keep trying and for sure things will click.

  7. says

    Great post Nancy! I think styling is one of the hardest things for beginners. But I see a lot of your readers sad that they’re not getting on to TS and FG… that is very unfortunate because I think it’s important for them to understand those sites only take very specific types of photos (and I find them boring most of the time – they all look the same!). Being turned down doesn’t necessarily mean you have submitted a bad photo! It just means it doesn’t fit their mold!

    • says

      Hi Melissa, Thank you so much :) I couldn’t agree with you more. Also so many people get discouraged by the rejections and the sad thing is that they start thinking that “specific” TS and FG style is the only style. Love what you said and may just have to repost it in another tutorial:)!

  8. says

    Thanks so much for the great tips! I am always afraid that my photos will look busy and jumbled if I use too many props, but you seem to have found just the right balance between boring and over the top. I will definitely be putting this advice to good use.

  9. says

    That was a very interesting post. I really love the shot with the slice of bread with a bit torn off. I’m off now to see your set up with artifcial lighting. Thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    OMG, I never knew so much thought went in to your photoshoots! I just basically dump everything in, try to catch the best light and shoot away. I DO! Now I realize that I’d have to put some extra effort to make my pictures as beautiful as yours, and my food as hunger-inducing as yours. Thanks for this very useful tutorial, Nancy. It just shows me I still have a long way to learn!

    • says

      Maya you are lying because your photos don’t look like it they are “basically dump everything in” You have a good eye and I always love the colors. Learning is never ending for all of us.

  11. Madonna says

    Thank you so much for these tutorials. I spent time in a class today trying to learn how to adjust my photos of my soup that looks a whole lot like yours – the soup – not the photography. I am writing a food blog that I am afraid to launch because my photos are so bad. Also, I promise myself if I could learn how to take nice photos I would buy myself a dslr, but I am a long way away. These tutorials are really helpful. More please.

    • says

      Hi Madonna, That is great that you are learning and setting goals. A very high percent of us food bloggers start off not knowing much about photography. I believe there is no shame in having our earlier photos being “bad” , we all have to start somewhere :) Keep learning, but above all practicing. Practice is the key! Thank you for your comment and yes there will be more tutorials coming :)

  12. says

    A lot of useful information in here as usual. I think one thing is missing though – maybe just a touch of butter for the bread, lol. All of your shots are great, even the ones you think are boring.
    -Gina-

  13. says

    I love this, thank you! I have such a hard time with food-styling. I never know what to put around things so I usually leave it plain (and boring). Plus, I’m usually in a hurry to eat! ;) I will try this.

  14. says

    I can’t say how much your ebook and photography tutorials have inspired me with photo taking! I used to be terrible but it’s all thanks to your tips and the beautiful way you photograph the food that I’ve been able to learn so much!
    Oh and I’m curious, where do you buy things like napkins, cloths/placemats and such?

    • says

      Thank you Susanna and I’m glad to hear it. I buy them at home stores, fabric shops, arts and crafts supply shops, even the grocery store. Really anywhere you see nice things like that. Thanks!

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>