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How to Style Food for Great Food Photography Photos

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Food is a terrific photography subject matter. It can be used for product photography, art photography, and it’s sure to get a lot of likes when you post it on Instagram.

And while you may think food is easier to shoot than a human being that might not pose correctly and could even cancel on you, it can be hard to keep it looking fresh and lively for the shots. The tips in this article will help you get terrific food photography results you can be proud of.

Get More Food Than You Need

You may think that just one apple is enough for your photography needs. But once it goes brown, you will need to consider your options. Salads can wilt and veggies can begin to look soggy. Therefore, it’s always best to have more food in the house than you need.

Use Fake Ice

We all want our photography to look as realistic as possible. But when it comes to ice, fake is better.

Real ice tends to look white instead of clear and shiny when it's photographed. It also melts. Therefore, you are best off investing in quality fake ice if you want your photos to have a realistic and sharp appearance.

Use Fake Wine

Wine is another item that is problematic when photographed. Red wine often shoots too dark. Food stylists will add food dye to water to get the right effect. White wine can be produced by adding Kitchen Bouquet to water, a caramel-colored liquid used for browning and seasoning meat.

Add Steam to Coffee

Photographing the steam rising from a cup of coffee can be challenging. You can produce the effect by positioning a steaming kettle behind it. Shoot at an angle where the kettle can’t be seen and, voila, you’ve created the perfect effect for your photos.

Add Condensation to Glassware

Adding condensation to glassware will make your beverages appear cold and frosty. This can be achieved with a water and glycerin mixture. Get a 50/50 ratio and add it to a spray bottle. Spray it onto the glass and you are good to go.

Get Meat and Fish Looking It’s Best

To get meat and fish looking its best, cut it to eliminate parts that look ragged and uneven. Then brush it with oil and cook it in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add oil to the surface to keep it from sticking.

It’s best to undercook the meat. Once it's brown, move it to a baking sheet and cover it with aluminum foil. Use a kitchen torch to make the edges darker.

Then use a charcoal starter to make grill marks. Use a rocking motion to ensure they cover the meat and space them as evenly as possible for a realistic effect. Brush the meat with oil to keep it looking moist and appetizing.

Undercooking is the Way to Go

Most food you see in photography is undercooked. This ensures that it won’t come out wrinkled. Vegetables are often blanched and barely cooked. They are dunked in ice to bring out their vibrant colors.


Adding dressing or sauce to food will make it wilt. It’s best to avoid adding the sauce until you are ready to shoot. Use the minimum amount to produce the effect you are going for without negatively affecting the look of the food.

Style Soups

Soups will look great with a garnish on top or a dinner roll on the side. A drizzle of cream or chopped herbs can add to the appeal and provide a dash of color. Make sure all garnishes and herbs are kept fresh. Replace them if necessary.

Enhance Eggs

Eggs will look best if they are cooked in a pre-heated, dry, nonstick pan. Don’t use oil as it will dull the edges and yolks. Cook them slowly over medium heat and transfer them carefully to a plate.

If you are soft boiling, it’s best to undercook. Then place the egg into a cup of ice water to preserve it for the shoot.

If an egg sits too low in a cup, use tissues to prop it up.

Breakfast Items

Breakfast items like muffins, pancakes, and waffles tend to look dull. You can get around this by adding fruits, butter, nuts, syrup, and more. If you are adding syrup, wait until the last minute. If you leave the syrup on too long, the food will get soggy.

Styling Burgers

Burgers may be the hardest food to style. Start out by cooking the burger. Then place it on a bun. Note, you may want to trim ragged edges from the bun to make it look as perfect as possible.

Lettuce should be kept in ice water until it’s ready to use. If you are adding tomato and onion, cut the pieces from the middle to ensure they are clean and neat.

Squares of cheese will produce the best melt.

Place the burger on a cake stand to elevate it and show off its layers before shooting.

Shooting food is a great way to earn money and build your portfolio. The tips in this article will ensure the food you are photographing comes out looking its best. What food styling advice do you have to share?

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