Photographing Food Tips

By on April 10, 2017

Photographing food is all the rage these days. In the era of Instagram and Pinterest, people can’t get enough of seeing just about anything on camera. This is a more and more visual world all the time, and people are really trying to milk the visual side of things for all that they’re worth. People want to be able to enjoy the most photogenic side of life. As such, the presentation of food and the visual aspect of what people eat are starting to become more and more important. The food itself is going to be eaten and gone. The image of the food is going to last forever, and that’s what more and more people are focusing on today.

Lighting counts with food just like everything else. You have to make sure that the food that you’re photographing is well lit. Otherwise, the whole thing is going to just look like a mass. You have to find the best side of the food, and you can photograph it from there. Usually, there’s going to be a certain way that light reflects off of food that is going to give it a really nice gloss to it, and that is going to emphasize the texture of the food. If you can shift around and try to capture the food from that angle, you should be able to create a photograph that emphasizes the light, color, and shading that people can really get with the food.

People are divided on whether it is a good idea to try to photograph the plate, the table, or the close-up details of the food in a food photograph. Personally, I try to take different approaches. I think that the zoomed-out approach to the food is a good one. If you zoom in too close to the food, you’re going to end up making it look like a mass. It isn’t going to look like a dish in its own right. You should be able to get a sense of what the food looks like in its natural environment, which is on a dish and on a table. From there, you should be able to create a really nice photograph.

People need to look at the photograph and think that whatever is there is good enough for everyone to eat. As such, they should still be able to look at the dish and see it as a dish, so it needs to be in the same sort of table environment as anything else that a person would eat. From there, you should end up with a really great photograph.

Attractive styling can enhance the beauty of any photograph, and that goes for a food photograph as well. If you add a pretty vase full of flowers to a food photograph, you’ll really be able to make the entire photograph look that much prettier. A sunlit photograph or a candlelit photograph can be just as pretty even if the photograph is not going to change in lighting all that much.



By on March 16, 2017

I am a food stylist and am passionate about cooking most any cuisine. A stylist’s job is to make the food look good on the table or for a photo shoot. Many people who post pictures of their creations on Instagram or Facebook should take a tip from me. If the food doesn’t look pretty and appetizing, then who cares? Pay attention to placement according to shape, color, and size and you can’t go wrong. How you group different items on a platter can make a huge difference. Eye appeal is the job of the stylist and it is something you can learn to do. The basics of art composition come into play when arranging anything culinary.

The largest item usually goes in the center with smaller things around it. It is important not to pile the dish too high if it is supposed to be a professional image. The brightest color should be next to a darker one in your order of preference. A mixture of hues makes a plate look balanced. All one color, such as brown, will not photograph well. You want to light everything well to show variances in texture and tone. Having the right lighting is key to the stylist’s process. You can use them to shoot other subjects such as people as well. Lopsided lights will cast shadows and obscure some of the food. Most stylists aren’t seeking a mood, at least not often. If they are working on a commercial or movie, that is a different matter. They may have to reflect the scene’s emotional tones.

You can work by trial and error or use the skills you have acquired from experience. Recently I had to wing it when shooting some barbecue fare. The client wanted the food to look masculine and I thought about how I could accomplish that without props. I deliberated what kind of props and thought of tools, beer cans, a football, a helmet, and a small gun safe like these. I tried each item to see which looked best. Each one created a different mood. I opted for the gun safe as it was small but imposing, had a nice smooth texture that contrasted well with the food, and was square in shape. Most of the items in the composition were round so it was a perfect pairing. The gun safe was not heavy which made it easy to carry from the car. I had borrowed it from a friend.

I made sure that she emptied it of its one pistol contents. She normally kept it locked under her bed. I wanted it unlocked so I could try it out with the door open and then closed to see what made for the best photograph. Without the gun, it lost its message. I thought of asking my friend to bring the gun unloaded, of course, which she promptly did in a half hour. It definitely brought out the masculine nature of the image. I used a steak, baked potato, and vegetables as they are a traditional “manly” combination.


Odor Eater

By on March 13, 2017

I am going to establish right at the outset that I love to cook. I collect recipes and concoct my own to share with others. Food is an art for me that requires a lot of attention to make it tasty and look good. It is one thing to whip up a simple meal but another to create fine dining fare. If you want good results, it takes the right tools and a good amount of time and effort. I don’t want to scare anyone away from joining me in my favorite calling. You see too much easy stuff on the Food network on TV. If you don’t want to be challenged, you can move on. In future blogs, I will encourage readers to do their homework by researching online. You can discover some great dishes that you won’t find in the average cookbook.

While I love the process of preparing food, especially for others, I hate lingering kitchen smells—especially fish. So, what do you do? As for me, I have tried different air fresheners that you can plug in around the house and I have purchased scented candles. The problem is that it creates an artificial environment. These products mask odors, but don’t really make a room smell fresh. You must open a kitchen window immediately to do that. You can dissipate fish smell, or any others, and then close it up in a few hours if it is cold outside or there is too much ambient noise.

The same problem comes with scented candles. You often get a heavy perfumy smell. If they are not scented, they help a little, but not much. Fish can be overpowering. I like them in principles because of the way they change a room’s character at night when the normal lights are dim. I love the way they look as well. So I buy them, but not as odor eaters. What I have discovered is the value of an air purifier designed to remove odors. They come in all shapes, prices, and sizes. You can get a table top version for your kitchen. This device works better than anything else I have tried. It has a safety cover that stays on in case you knock it over. It also has automatic shut off if you let it run for more than a few hours so it won’t make your utility bill skyrocket. It is easy to clean as there is a removable filter. You don’t add water as it works on ion technology. In short, I have solved my odor problem for a modest price.

If you are plagued by odors in the kitchen, do what restaurants do and use an air purifier. Theirs are larger than mine since they must cover a large space. It is an easy fix so you don’t have to stop cooking fish. I have seen them in operation many times in my favorite restaurants. You can buy them in any appliance or hardware store—and of course online. Add this to your arsenal of odor eaters and you will be quite pleased.


Favorite Comfort Foods

By on March 10, 2017

Who doesn’t have comfort foods? I do, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, even though lots of people want to make you feel that way. There’s nothing immoral about enjoying food. I can’t stand listening to people talking about how they feel so guilty about being able to enjoy food or about eating food. You’re not hurting anyone by eating anything. Food shouldn’t have any moral judgments attached to it unless you stole it from somewhere, and in that case, it still isn’t the food that’s the problem.

One of my favorite comfort foods has to be Rotisserie style chicken. I know that lots of people like to eat stuff that’s full of carbs during moments where they really need to have some comfort food. I actually find that eating something that’s really high in protein works better. I tend to get less depressed if there’s protein in whatever I’m eating. Maybe there’s some sort of scientific reason for that. All I know is that if I eat protein, I usually feel a lot better.

Pretty much anything to do with Italian food is a great comfort food dish for me. I love pasta, eggplant Parmesan, chicken Parmesan, and pretty much anything of that nature. You’ve got protein, carbohydrates, and tomatoes there: who could ask for more?

If you’re trying to go for great comfort food, you often do need to choose dishes from a culture where everyone takes food seriously. Italy is definitely a culture like that, and you can tell. You can usually tell the difference between classic Italian food and the stuff that Americans create in imitation of Italian food. Really though, if I’m looking for comfort food, anything like that is going to work.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having something that is completely simple with comfort food. I really don’t feel like cooking when I’m interested in comfort food. Anything close at hand and delicious is going to work just fine for the most part.


A Romantic Evening

By on March 9, 2017

While you will find me whipping up some new recipes most days, I am also busy staging food for photo shoots from time to time. I love making a spread look appetizing in a blog or for a commercial ad. It takes a keen eye for composition, just as it does for making a painting. You take into consideration color, texture, shape, size, balance of forms, and contrasts of light and dark. If you are working with a theme, it is more challenging but always great fun. When you get good results, your self-esteem goes up a notch. When I do a shoot for a client, I cook it myself or buy appropriate products at the store. The goal is different than when you are trying to sell a cookbook or new pots and pans. You tailor each shoot to specifications.

Recently, I had a ball doing a date-night shoot of food in a romantic setting. Think Valentine’s day on steroids. Hearts are trite but you will probably include one or two if just a folded napkin. Candles are expected and a lace place mat. Romance means many things to different people, but I sometimes go with the tried and true so everyone gets it. My idea of such a setting is not outdoors by the campfire or in a chalet high up in the mountains. I like something formal where you have to dress up. Where do people go to celebrate an anniversary or engagement—to a restaurant. I picture two glasses of champagne with a single rose in a crystal vase as the centerpiece. I must put a spin on it for my client so I start with this traditional image. Then my mind goes to a hot tub like this with a couple immersed in warm, swirling water. It is night time. The candles are there, just as in the first concept and the glasses of champagne are not on a table, but in the couple’s hands. There is a tray attached to the hot tub upon which sits a small bowl of fresh strawberries. You imagine the woman plopping one into her glass. Now we are getting symbolic. I think the client will like this approach and I avidly set up the scene in my backyard. I hire two models that must look like they are in love. I borrow the most beautiful champagne glasses I can find. Strawberries come easy. The whole thing will reek romance.

I have my challenges as a food stylist, but romance is a no-brainer. I ran a few thoughts by my client and we discussed options. Were the strawberries enough? Usually, I create an entire meal; but he liked the simplicity of it. The rich, red fruit would be an eye catcher. The stylist’s job is to make the strawberries look extraordinary. The champagne must be bubbly and appealing. The couple will be almost in the background with only a portion of the hot tub showing. I think this job will bring me success.


Perfect Rustic Touches

By on March 7, 2017

As a food stylist, I get all kinds of jobs. It tests my creativity to the max. I enjoy the challenge of setting up attractive food in a special setting according to the client’s needs. Maybe he or she wants to sell a new product and I must lay out the container and the contents side by side. Other times a restaurant wants new business and in addition to a wide angle shot of the entire place, they want close-ups of the specialties. Food in TV ads is often doctored up with artificial colors to make it look fabulous. You wouldn’t be able to eat it after the photo session. Think of all those rich brown turkeys that appear at Thanksgiving time. No, they don’t all come out of the oven like that. Tomatoes can be made to appear more red than they are in case you are working off season. Coloring food is part of the stylist’s stock in trade. It is just a slight exaggeration, so don’t make me feel guilty.

I also must decorate the table, not just make the food look good. Let’s say I am doing a rustic meal for a cookbook to accompany a country recipe. I will use a simple wood table that is not too polished, as this shininess will clash with the food. I won’t use fancy placemats, maybe something that looks homemade. I also might like to see carved wooden napkin rings that go with the feeling of the image I want to conjure up. To add a touch of the festive, I will use a hot glue gun to attach ribbons to the main body of the ring. I will fold each piece of ribbon over and secure it with a staple gun. You won’t see the staples inside. I always select a color theme for my composition and the ribbons would work with the candles and centerpiece. A glue and staple gun really come in handy for photoshoots. You can staple a tablecloth to a picnic table if the wind is blowing it about. It is primarily for decorations. I go on a shoot with all my tools in tow. As much as I plan in advance, you never know what little repair job will be needed. You might want to take some tape along as well. As a food stylists, I have learned many tricks of the trade over the years. It is not just about coloring food, but knowing how to arrange it in an attractive manner, highlighting a particular element with lighting. The photographer usually takes care of a light, but I have been known to use a flashlight when he has forgotten.

If you want to be a food stylist, look at dozens of magazines and TV ads. What do you notice first and foremost? The food should look real (and most often it is) and fresh. Nothing must look awry. You look and your mind creates associations with hunger perhaps. Some people rush out to buy the product displayed. That is one major intention.


Stunning Holiday Treats

By on February 24, 2017

When it comes to the holiday treats that people see immortalized forever on Instagram, a lot of people wonder how people do it. Lots of times, these are basically normal desserts. However, they have their decorations arranged in a way that is really innovative and paints images of some kind. That’s what’s usually going to make holiday treats absolutely stunning.

Obviously, a really pretty looking cake is nice to see even if it doesn’t have a lot of decorations on it. However, if you really want to make something that is worthy of Instagram, you have to make sure that the holiday treats actually look like pretty pictures in their own right.

The only thing better than tasty holiday treats is pretty holiday treats. There are lots of pretty holiday treats today. You just have to make sure that you’re able to create a nice balance of textures, or better yet, that you can use the different portions of the holiday treats as mediums of expression.

You see lots of cookies these days that are actually made in a way that makes them look like they’ve created a picture. One of my favorite examples of this is the batch of cupcakes that I made for Thanksgiving one year. I made all of the cupcakes look like they had turkey faces, and I used candy corn for the beaks and layered cookies for the eyes. It was a real crowd-pleaser!

There are lots of holiday treats like that. They’re so cute that you’re not going to want to eat them afterward. I recommend using cookies and candy as toppings that can be used in order to create faces and other types of designs and shapes on the cupcakes or cookies. You can make everyone happy the moment that they see all of your adorable creations if you manage to do that!

You can find a lot of tutorials online all about how to create really specific stunning holiday treats. However, there are also lots of other stunning holiday treats that you can make just by going freestyle with the cookies and cakes. If you manage to do that, then you’re going to create some holiday treats that are actually going to last longer than the holidays and that will create the sort of memories that you’re going to want to relive over and over again.



Cooking With Wine

By on February 20, 2017

Experts no longer believe that you should cook with only cheap wine. They used to believe that it didn’t matter to the flavor, but I am here to tell you that it does. I fancy myself a professional chef and food stylist and I know of what I speak. Maybe people still do it to save money, but don’t kid yourself. A good wine should be used in the preparation of sauces or to deglaze a skillet. If the recipe calls for a specific type of wine such as white or red, or perhaps sherry, get the kind you would drink yourself. It doesn’t mean the most expensive at all as that can run you hundreds of dollars per bottle. I am talking about about twenty or thirty at most. Something you would offer guests or order yourself at a fine dining restaurant. In the liquor store or supermarket, a bottle that costs $20 goes for $40. So you know you are using the right wine if you follow my tip.

I often cook with sauterne or a pinot noir. I keep plenty in my wine refrigerator that I found here on Home Bar Hero. It holds a case and keeps reds and whites at different temperatures. You don’t want to over chill the reds. Let them stand at room temperature if you are unsure. I like them in the cooler where I can see them all at once. I don’t use a wine rack or store bottles on a shelf. Sherry doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but when drinking or serving chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Riesling, the wine should be quite cold. Reds include Beaujolais, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. Each wine, red or white, has a distinct flavor. I like to pair whites with fish, pork and chicken and reds with red meat. It is a kind of general rule of thumb. If you want a particular flavor, note these special undertones. Zinfandel, for example, emits a broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry). There is also a bit of Asian spice powder, and in some, a sweet tobacco. As an alternative, go to Cabernet Sauvignon for a bit of black cherry, black currant, baking spices and cedar (from oak). You can really flavor a dish if you choose carefully. I keep a number of each key type of red and white in my wine refrigerator. I’ll move something aside if I don’t like how it works with my favorite ingredients.

Wines are full-bodied or light so learn what this means. Pinot Noir is known for its very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose) tones, often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom. You can see that it can get very exotic. Wines are a sophisticated specialty indeed. It pertains to drinking them alone or using them in food preparation. Many recipes give you the details, but then again many don’t. You have to experiment and learn by trial and error.


Visually Appealing Salads

By on February 17, 2017

Salads are some of the prettiest dishes that people can photograph. Half of the time, I don’t even want to eat the salads. I just want to look at them because they’re so pretty. Obviously, salads usually taste as good as they actually look. The thing is, if you actually do manage to photograph them and share them with the world, you can overturn the weird myth that salads aren’t tasty.

Some of the prettiest salads are fruit salads. Artists have been capturing fruit on camera for centuries now, and there’s a reason for that. Fruit is colorful. It has a lot of different textures. It’s just the sort of subject that can be used to create really beautiful photographs. People really can enjoy the fact that fruit salads are pretty as they are healthy.

I recommend salads that contain dark leafy greens along with some fruit. These are the salads that are going to have the right mix of textures and colors. People who photograph these salads are going to get the right images. The salads are probably going to look great from multiple angles as well. These kinds of salads are really popular today, so you can be sitting in Panera Bread and you’re going to get a salad that has leafy greens and berries, and you can get some great pictures for Instagram just for that.

Of course, salads don’t need to have fruit in order to be pretty. In some cases, salads can look really pretty as long as they have the right mix of fresh vegetables in them. If salads have some vegetables that create a high visual contrast, it can be more than enough for a great photo.

The salads that you don’t want to photograph are the ones that have a lot of mayonnaise, heavy dressing, or otherwise a lot of goo that is going to distort the image. Ambrosia salad, which is a Southern staple, may be really tasty. However, it’s still the sort of salad that just doesn’t look all that great on camera. Even the most artistically presented potato salad is still a potato salad, and people aren’t going to fall in love with its image.

The salads that are pretty are the ones that have a lot of color and texture to them because this makes them look almost like they’re tiny miniature landscapes, and that’s what’s going to really work well for a picture. Salads have an inherently natural look, unlike a lot of the other sides that people are going to use. There are lots of advantages to specifically using salads for the sake of photographs.

Obviously, the salads are going to need to have lots of fresh vegetables or they’re not going to be visually appealing. Even a few brown spots are going to show up on the film. The salads ideally shouldn’t have too much dressing on them unless the dressing is arranged in a visually pleasing grid-like sort of manner. This sort of salad is going to have a much better look to it, and people are encouraged to try to find that balance.

Salads often look really great when they are paired with other visual signatures. For instance, a nice glass of water, a vase, or something of that nature can really give people the visual contrast that they need for a nice shot of a salad. Salads are somewhat busy looking, even if they are usually busy looking in a good way. You want to pair them with some simpler images in order to get a really good picture.

People also have a lot of positive associations with salads. Salads are nutritious. They’re full of life. They’re natural foods. Almost any diet still lets you eat salad. You can really enjoy them no matter what, and there is something satisfying about that. Salads look great in photographs, and people can really take advantage of the fact that their audience members are already going to be really happy about the salads.


Photogenic (and Delicious) Sides

By on February 10, 2017

Sides don’t get enough attention in photography. People always tend to focus on the entree and the sides get the short end of the stick. Plenty of side dishes can be just as photogenic, and that’s what people should try to enjoy. The side dishes are really what will make the meals a lot of the time since people aren’t going to be able to fill up on the main courses only. People should be able to appreciate all parts of the meal, and that includes coming up with lovely photographic tributes to them.

One of the prettiest sides that anyone is going to find anywhere is a salad. Salads are beautiful, especially if they have a lot of fruit. Salads even without fruit can be lovely to look at though, particularly before people add on the dressing.

Pretty much any side dish that is heavy on the vegetables can be really pretty to look at since people have a tendency to do a lot of art that features vegetables anyway. A still life in nature is really beautiful. A still life on a plate made with natural items is going to look just as lovely. Grilled vegetables on and off of a skewer can both be just as lovely to look at when photographed in the right light.

Basically, you also have to think in terms of the sides that aren’t going to look as photogenic. Almost any side dish that is really lumpy or really pasty is not going to work. Mashed potatoes are not photogenic even if you try to make sure that the gravy has been distributed really well. Sweet potato wedges are much prettier, especially if they are aligned well and given a glaze or something to do with pepper.

Some sides are a little bit trickier. For one thing, rice has a tendency to look like a great big mass without really having the color and the texture that people would associate with pretty food pictures. Quinoa actually can be really pretty to look at, though. Some types of rice pilaf can actually look really pretty if they have a lot of different pretty ingredients mixed in with the rice, like fruit. You have to make sure that the rice is not the only thing in there and that there is more to look at, and from there, you can end up with a nice picture of rice.

Soup is a side dish that can actually look appealing, even though it really doesn’t seem that way at first. You can make soup look warm and homey if you put in a simple sprig of parsley and put the soup in a nice bowl with a shiny ladle. If you add a fireplace to the background with the soup, you automatically create the impression of heart and home.

Creating great photographs with side dishes is often about striking the right note. Some side dishes make you think of really great summer days. Others make you think of Thanksgiving days with the family. Other side dishes can make people think of their birthdays. There are lots of different ways to enjoy food and lots of different instances where the food looks great and is great. You just have to find a way to get the mood right when it comes to the picture.