Many books have been written on how to style foods for professional food photography… and I’ve read most of them.
They go into a lot of tips, such as using a heat gun on the plated food to selective melt bits of cheese, etc. Or adding an extra amount of cheese to pizzas where they are going to be sliced and pulled apart for the gooey cheesy look, or misting foods with water or cooking spray to keep them looking moist.
I’m not going to get into all of that here. The bottom line in food styling is you want it to look good and most of all appetizing!
The point of this blog post is to not forget to do an “action shot” where appropriate. This is a closeup of someone actually taking a forkful of the food, or pouring sauce onto it, or serving it. While it might not technically be considered food styling, it helps you highlight certain foods and show the texture and consistency. In this case the shot was about selling the meatballs, not the spaghetti. So having the meatballs elevated from the pot in a serving spoon brings them front and center in the viewers attention.
If you have an assistant, you can simply have the assistant hold the utensil where you want it. Sometimes though I find that budgets don’t have room for an assistant. When that happens I move the camera to a tripod (which is a good idea to do regardless!) focus and compose my image and then put the camera in live view mode so I can see where I’m holding the fork or spoon. Using a remote trigger, I trigger the shot. Usually it will take quite a few to have the spoon end up exactly where you want it. It’s hard to hold the spoon and examine the back of the camera at the same time.
A tip here. When working with a tripod, always use a remote trigger. If you don’t have a remote trigger, then use your camera’s self timer button. You wouldn’t think so but no matter how careful you are when you push the button with the camera on a tripod, it will shake and you’ll have a blurred image. Some gear I recommend is below.
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