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What does a food stylist do?

20140303_105527The main objective is to make the food look as enticing as possible and stay fresh looking under the lights for a length of time. The preparation and plate building is done to be seen from the camera’s eye.

Typically there should be training in the culinary arts and have training in food styling by professional accredited teachers. Also an internship of assisting for a good period of time is highly recommended. It enables you to see firsthand the challenges that arise and that you have to be prepared for. Many people are counting on you to have the answers and to have the answers to any problem that comes up.

Food Stylists create mouthwatering dishes that are used for a variety of advertising purposes like: TV commercials, editorial, video, media tours, cook books, package launches, restaurant menus and more.

It is also very helpful and encouraged to have a creative background as it helps in the creation of their plated dish as well as your communication with the client. Whenyou are trained Professionallyit helps you understand and execute the client’s visions like a styling expert.

Some Duties and Responsibilities That May be Included:

  • Attend a production meeting to discuss the expectations and needs of the client.
  • Shopat several stores to find the right quality of ingredients to use and have plenty on hand.
  • Find props including fabrics, flowers, silver and plates that will look good with the product if needed.
  • Making notes of the placement on the set and of what order the client wants things on the set.
  • Keep and maintain a kit of all various tools, solutions and equipment to be able to quickly and easily style and fixyour preparation.
  • Making solutions to put onto the food to help in what you are trying to achieve. For example something to help the food not turn brown, to help thicken it, to help glisten it, to help it not stick together, to help it last longer etc. Some photo shoots involve models who must eat the food so you must learn to make solutions that a model can eat but also do the job they are designed to do.
  • Making several of the same thing so that you have several stand in’s and a “Hero” which is the perfect one!
  • Having an assistant available if your job is of large capacity.
  • Before you are on the road to the shoot check over everything 3 times to make sure you do not forget anything. You could be forgetting a sponsor paid product that could cost your producer over $5K.
  • Packing up in a large vehicle all of your food, props, and kits. All food items must be stored in a way that they can be transported without damaging the look of the ingredients. So, refrigerated if needed. Everything must be loaded in a very organized way because if you are shooting live T.V. you have to be able to quickly get all things on set without forgetting anything in a very short amount of time. There is not a lot of time for error.
  • Unload all of your food, props, kits and ingredients into shooting area ahead of your call time.
  • Staying on top of the latest in food and styling trends. Keeping updated with current training.
  • Being available for possible overtime with the proper amount of energy.
  • Having good communication skills so that you understand and can translate the art director and photographers needs and turn them into reality.
  • Be able to produce the final plate in a fast and reasonable amount of time. Clients are always in a hurry!
  • Have a steady hand so that you can go in and out of the set to make changes without destroying your work of art. Use the proper kit tools to be able to achieve the desired look without having it fall and causing you to start all over.
  • Being able to anticipate problems and being ready to fix them as quickly and easily as possible. Have a plan A, B and C!!!
  • Maintain a “can do” positive attitude throughout the shoot.
  • Make use of creativity, eye for detail and experience to think outside of the box at times. You are a Food Styling engineer and that simply means you use whatever you need that works and makes the shot look appetizing and appealing.
  • Bring cleaning supplies to leave your area and set as clean as before you came.

How do I make my Food Photography look better?

The trend today is to try to use as many natural and real products as possible. A casual look is more popular for the food presentation. For example, having a few crumbs coming off the food, so that it looks a tad less than perfect is good. This way, the reader can feel a part of the story.

To get started, the first thing you must think ofis “what is your intent for and how will you use the food picture?” The reason for asking this question is that there are different types of food photography. A shot that you are using for an ad or packaging needs to be the exact food product with all the correct portion sizes and ingredients. It stillhowever,can be tweaked to make it look better and last longer by using a “food stylist’s” special techniques. When you are aiming for the perfect vision of the food, it must be styled to look how it appears when it is served.

Another type of food shot can be used in a recipe book or magazine. These shots are considered a more “editorial” look. With this type of use, you will want to draw the reader into the experience by creating a “lived in” look with warm and inviting props. This makes the picture more appealing and delicious.The Shots can either be up close with selective focus or you can show more of the propping to tell more of the story. The key is… whatdo youreally want to say with your shot?

The primary thing you want to achieve when taking food shots is for it to look soooo good that the readergets hungry and wants to take a bite. This sounds rather simple but food starts to sag, dry out, and discolor quickly when under the photographer’sstudiolights and the heatthat is generated on set. This all happens in less than 10 minutes time from the time the food is prepared. A chef can make the food taste wonderful and even make it look beautiful on the plate. But,it is the food stylist that makes it last under the studiolights and look fresh while at the same time preparing it to be seen from the “camera’s“ eye.

Different foods must be cooked at different length of times for them to hold and be the right color and texture when shot. Meat that is cooked to the normal amount of time will lookdarker when shot.A stylist will spray onto the food proper solutions that will make it appear fresh, tasty and the right color. Some foods are highly unstable or items that easily melt or spoil quickly. The food stylist’s will have a kit with all the things needed to save the shot.

There is definitely an art to getting the best shot of your product and another big part of it, is to select a foodphotographer who specializes in food photography and one that you have seen samples of their work which includes all the proper lighting techniques used to make the product mouth watering and appealing to the eye.

Having the right team to produce your shots will REALLY make a difference in helping the end shot look as if it was just put on the tableand done by a styling expert.

Food Stylist – www.foodstylingbydiana.com

Healthy Mapo Tofu

Healthy Mapo Tofu

So what is Mapo you are wondering… it is a traditional Chinese dish that is usually made with ground pork. This recipe uses ground turkey to cut down the saturated fat and calories plus I add in some extra veggies. It’s the best.