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

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

Are you trying to take quality food photos? Doing food photography with your iPhone? Get ready to crush your food photos, no matter what camera you use! Here are 9 killer techniques to style your photos. We're talking 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, get the picture! Click each photo to learn more about the Surface featured in it.

Looking for how to style product photos instead of food? 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. This photo features the Weathered Wood Replica Surface, by the way.


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!

To get this half light/half moody look we used the Slate and Cement Replica Surfaces.


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.

In this photo we paired the Concrete and Weathered Wood Replica Surfaces for a deliciously industrial look. Taking photos at home never looked so inviting.


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.

Here, we used the White Marble and Weathered Wood Replica Surfaces because the charcoal color of White Marble's grain compliments the dark gray of Weathered Wood perfectly.


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 food is exclusively for styling now. 

Can you tell I'm obsessed with the Weathered Wood Replica Surface for food styling? Here's why: 1) the dark gray color and true-to-life grain are perfect for sweater weather, and 2) at just under 2 feet square, every Replica Surface is a backdrop that's the perfect size for food photos. This size has been proven again and again to give you a large enough "canvas" for taking quality food photos, while still being easy to store. After all, most of us are taking photos at home and space is at a premium!


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. That blur is the key to taking professional-quality food photography using your iPhone or Android phone. 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!

Loving this full white look? It's all thank to white photo backgrounds. That's why I created the All White Replica Surface. No texture, just pure white for when you want to take a fresh and clean photo with a white background.


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? This winky face is showing my age again?

You know what else is showing? This double Rose Marble stunner. Here, we paired two Rose Marble Replica Surfaces together for an all-pink shot with subtle texture.


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.

The White Marble and Concrete Replica Surfaces will help emphasize the icy blue look. Those are the two Surfaces we used in this photo.


Want more styling tips where these came from? Here's how to create my two favorite styling compositions for food and product photos. 

Want to learn how to master natural lighting, product photo styling, 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


  • Sarah on

    Great ideas here, thank you for the tips!

  • Kimberly on

    These tips are great!!! Thank you!

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