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Food styling: 9 killer food photography tips you can use year round

Posted by Mandy Gleason on
Food styling: 9 killer food photography tips you can use year round

Get ready to crush your food photos! I'm coming at you with 9 killer food styling techniques like dripless ice cream, the perfect coffee pour, frosted berries, and more.

Disclaimer: a lot of these photos are holiday-inspired, but every tip can be used year round - just sub cookies for candy canes, cherries for cranberries, and...you get the picture! Click each photo to learn more about the Surface featured in it.

Looking for non-food styling tips? You know I've got those too! Click here for all that goodness.

 

Dripless ice cream. Yep. Dripless.

Replica Surfaces Weathered Wood food photography backdrop

Create no-melt “ice cream” by mixing one tub of white frosting with three cups white icing sugar. Food coloring is optional. Add extra sugar as needed until you’re loving the texture. Scoop into a bowl or cone and you’re ready to shoot! Use year round by swapping in props that suit the season.

  

Sugar, dun duh dun duh, oh honey honey.

Replica Surfaces Rose Marble food photography backdrop

Honeys, this sweet sugar-rim can be yours too! To get the look, partially cover your plate with another circular object like a second plate or a circle cut from cardboard (it’ll act like a stencil) and sprinkle powdered sugar on the exposed crescent. Carefully place your sugared plate on your favorite backdrop (this is the Rose Marble Replica Surface) and style away!

 

Go beyond the pour.

replica surfaces slate photo tips backdrops background

Pouring liquids into your scene is a technique I’ll love until my scrolling thumbs can scroll no more! If you want to go beyond the pour, though, I’ve got your next technique right here. And since I can’t think of a name as good as “the pour” let’s call it “the stretch” (email me if you have a better name!)

Pretty much the opposite of the pour, the stretch is created by drizzling delicious goo onto your creation off camera, touching the goo to coat your finger, then raising your finger a few inches while keeping that beautiful goo string intact!

 

Stack it up.

Replica Surfaces Concrete food photography backdrop

Replica Surfaces Concrete food photography backdrop

Create a sky-high stack of deliciousness that’ll never topple again! Simply poke a wooden skewers down the center of your stack then add one more item on top to hide the skewer! Icing drizzle optional but encouraged. What can you stack? Pretty much anything poke-able - brownies, chocolate cups, bagels, donuts, cinnamon buns, cookies, you get the idea.

 

Pour yourself a cup.

Replica Surfaces White Marble food photography backdrop 

To add cream to the perfect cup of coffee, skip the coffee entirely and fill a glass cup with liquid smoke (a smoky flavored liquid used in barbecue recipes) instead. Place your camera on a tripod, set the self timer, and pour that cream into the glass! Find liquid smoke in the condiment aisle of most grocery stores. I got mine for $1.49.

 

Layer it on.

Replica Surfaces Weathered Wood food photography backdrop

Layer kitchen towels, cooling racks, and serving trays to create the feeling of serving a meal. It doesn’t even have to make sense, it just needs to look good! I mean, who actually places a tray on a cooling rack?

Bonus points for using your self timer (or enlisting a friend) to include your hands in the shot. Extra bonus points for using an on-trend gold cooling rack. Don’t have one? Grab a black or silver one from the dollar store and spray paint it gold! Just don’t eat anything off of a painted rack - that's styling food now!

 

Sorry, I’m a little tied up right now

Replica Surfaces styling tip twine

This is one of the prettiest food shots around, so let’s dissect the styling, shall we? For starters, make your main prop feel like a gift by tying a piece of cotton kitchen string or jute twine around it like we did here. Little bows are pretty bows, so keep the loops small and the ends long. This unexpected detail literally costs pennies to create.

What else makes this photo so appealing? How filled the frame feels. And that means adding simple props to the foreground and background to create visual interest. Make sure your styling arsenal contains a simple white cloth napkin (or other white fabric) and a small bowl or ramekin like the one pictured here. Drape the cloth in the front left corner of the shot and fill the bowl with a small ingredient that compliments your main dish. Try fillers like coffee beans, chocolate chips, fresh herbs, or fresh lemon wedges. 

Place the bowl in the back right of your photo and keep it out of focus. If you use a DSLR camera, shoot with a shallow depth of field (wide aperture) to blur the background. If you're an iPhone photographer, shoot with Portrait Mode to get a DSLR-like blurred effect. For more on creating depth in food photos, click here.

FINALLY, sprinkle some crumbs all over your scene. It’s truly ok to be a little heavy handed here - the more crumbs the delicious-er!

 

Wet 'n Wild.

Replica Surfaces Rose Marble food photography backdrop

No, not the 90s makeup brand (but if you know what I’m talking about you're old like me)! Get this so fresh and so clean look using a tripod and the self timer on your camera. Alternatively, have a friend pour a pitcher of water off camera.

When summer comes, use berries or other produce rather than cranberries. Whatever you do, DON’T try this with real wood or paper backdrops! Stick to your water-resistant Replica Surfaces ;) <— What's that you say? My age is showing again?

 

Let's go kick some ice.

Replica Surfaces White Marble food photography backdrop

Frosted berries are almost as awesome as old Batman movies (did you catch the Mr. Freeze reference?) To create your own, spread berries in a single layer and place in the freezer for 30 minutes before styling. Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries all look great with a little frosting.

 

Which of these techniques will YOU try? Comment below and let a girl know!

 

Want to learn how to master natural lighting, artificial lighting, or how to create depth in your backdrop-based photos? I've got a how-to for each one! Click a link and I'll transport you there!

 

Photo credit @beatboxportraits

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5 comments

  • Anne on

    Love, love, love ALL of the tips and techniques you have provided! Also loving my surfaces! My client was thrilled with the images from her shoot! Thanks for sharing the tips and for creating these awesome surfaces!

  • Kelly on

    Ohhh man!!! These are great tips-the liquid smoke is a great idea!! But then so is the drip less ice cream!!

  • Becki O'Brien on

    These are such great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah on

    Great ideas here, thank you for the tips!

  • Kimberly on

    These tips are great!!! Thank you!

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