Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

Quite literally a little styling will transform a photo from boring to fabulous shot. Today I’m going to walk you through a very basic styling guide. While there are hundreds of ways to style your food photos, I always emphasizes simplicity. Today I’m going to illustrate a very simple way of styling biscuits. Previously I shared a tutorial on styling stew, and if you missed it can be found here, Food Photography : How To Style Stew. Additionally my photography eBook has a whole section dedicated to styling a number of different foods.

These photos were all shot using indirect window light and a small reflector to tone done the harsh shadows. (Please refer to Yummy Pic’s Chapter Seven: Light Direction for further explanation on light setup.) Due to the low lighting conditions I propped the camera on a tripod. If your light source is minimal I suggest you also use one.

Okay, let’s begin with some biscuits on a table with no additional props and see how we can make them interesting.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

This is a bad photo. The problem is that I am zoomed in too close to the subject, the composition is also not very good. The shot is uninteresting and too busy with the viewer’s eye not really knowing what to focus on.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

In these two photos you can see that by rearranging the biscuits now the viewer has something more interesting to look at. Additionally I changed the format, from horizontal to vertical, which also helped improved the pictures and composition. Though much better than the first photo both can be improved.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

When I’m photographing several items I’ve found that stacking can be quite interesting. Compare this to the photos above, better right? Did you notice how your eye follows the curvy path? Instead of perfectly aligning the biscuits and instead arranging them in this off pattern it made the image more interesting. Little details like this can mean so much, pay attention to them. The photo isn’t bad but let’s play with the styling a little more.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

Here you can see that adding an additional biscuit and moving it around gives the image a little extra something. Don’t be afraid to shoot many photos -in fact shoot many photos. Keep playing with the arrangement until you find one that is interesting to you.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

Don’t be afraid of showing a messy space. Sometimes a little mess can accentuate the feeling of wanting to grab a bite of the food. Think to yourself, what would this food look like if I was actually eating it right now? Eating biscuits is messy show those crumbs and bits and pieces.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

The previous shot was good but we can add a little extra oomph with some color. Herbs, salad greens, flowers or plants can all add an interesting tone to your photographs. Here I’ve used a dried leaf to give the photo some color. You can experiment by moving the decorative prop around the subject. It is amazing how a simple extra ingredient or prop can change an image from okay to a great photo.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

The green leaf above gave the image some oomph and extra pop with a complementing yet contrasting color. In this image I am showing you that even something of the same tonal range can add just as much oomph to an image. Additionally the wheat plant creates a curved pattern that draws the viewers eye from the left side, over the biscuit pile, and down to the crumbs. This is a good shot because it gives the viewer a couple of things to look at without overstimulating the eye.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

Another way of styling the biscuits is by simply adding a napkin or a piece of fabric under the stack. Again there is extra color and pattern to keep the viewers attention. Just remember that we are working toward accentuating not distracting from the subject. Fabrics can be used in countless ways so practice and experiment to find what works for you.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

As I stated above, shoot many photos. Add, remove, and rearrange both subject and enhancing props. Also make sure you move yourself and the camera around to yield different results.

Food Photography Tutorials: From Boring To Fab, Easy Styling Tutorial by Spicie Foodie

In this last photo you can compare the results. You can clearly see that while there is nothing wrong with the photo on the left adding a little styling creates a more interesting photograph. Using very basic “tools” we were able to transform the photo from boring to fabulous!

This tutorial is but one of the countless ways these biscuits could have been styled. They could have been placed inside a box, bowl, in a bag, or have had a glass of milk alongside. Extra color could have been added with some fruit. They could have been shot on a different surface, from a different angle and with different lighting. The possibilities are truly endless. All you need is practice and before you know styling will become second nature to you.

Thank you and I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.

 

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

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you, so much to learn!! I love to cook, and this is my main focus: to write a recipe of something that I like to eat. But you are right a good photo catch the attention and create interest around the recipe… Thank you for your great tutorial.

  2. says

    Great tips, as always. Thank you. I always regret that most of my food pictures are snapped so quickly with little thought in the middle of class with little or no time to style them. Perhaps I should just stop everything and do better! You inspire!

  3. says

    Nice ! I like the one with the burlap and crumbs ( last one ) best ! Learn so much from you ! Thanks for sharing !! Look for ward to your next tutorial 7 the book is fab ! Still working my way through it ! lol 1

  4. says

    Have read all your photography tutorials…They are really good and helps me a lot while clicking and so is this one…Loved the way you transformed the click to most amazing one..with all those possible clicks in between..Thanks for putting so much effort and details in this post…Very helpful one..

  5. says

    Nancy, I know you, you can make any ole thing look fab! Am enjoying learning from you. I’m still reading your e-book in between work and stuff. Wish I had more time!

  6. says

    Nancy…. you make it look so easy. It’s really a gift you have at styling. I would have probably left it at the bad photo… with the bagels just sitting there. LOL! Thanks for taking the time to give us all these great tips. I really treasure them. Have a wonderful weekend. ~ Ramona

  7. says

    I love how you explain things so clearly, Nancy! And the photo comparisons make it quite easy to understand. Now if I can just slow down and utilize all your great hints, I know my photography will improve.

    PS…I LOVE your book and recommend it to all food bloggers who would like to take better photos.

  8. says

    Great advice, as usual! My attempts at styling are usually pretty laughable so I keep the shot focused tightly on the food, lol! But I always appreciate a good lesson! Maybe I’ll branch out of my current rut one day…

    • says

      Frank, we all focus on what our strong points. It is easy to get caught up in a rut or routine for photo taking…happens to me but we have to force out of it, hehe:)

  9. says

    Styling is very challenging for me. When I try hard, it looks like I tried hard to “style”, and having the just right balance is very hard. Thank you for your explanation and inspiration. I can tell you practice photography a lot. I will need to work on it more… I need to be more playful and testing it out before I reject my silly idea. :)

    • says

      Styling can be challenging for us all Nami. As you said it is about finding the right balance and at times that can be really hard. But your photography is lovely and always well balanced. We are our worst critics:)

  10. says

    I’m starting to try taking vertical photos but could use some help. Would love to hear your tips on what should be in the background and if you use a tripod.

    • says

      Hi Jeanette,
      I try to keep the background uncluttered with both orientations. But the best advice I can give you is to experiment a bit to see what elements work and what don’t. Some photos look good just plain and simple while others benefit with a little background props. As for the tripod, yes I do use one. I mostly use it for low light conditions. Hopes this helps:)

  11. La Torontoise says

    Nancy, I got to your blog via Kitchen Riffs, I noticed your comments there. Since then, I’ve been reading your posts but my work was too hectic to write. Like you, I also live in Europe (North) and I travel a lot (mostly to sunny places:-), discovering the world by exloring what people eat.
    I’ve been into food phography for 6 months and I’m learning a lot. Your turorials made a great difference to me; so many pragmatic tips, easy to implement in my own settings.
    I love this particular tutorial, and the fisrt and last photos put next to each other: a tremedous difference.
    All the best.

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