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I attended a Food Photography and Styling Workshop recently (during BlogHer) that was hosted by Hillshire Farm.   So if you are looking for tips and tricks from professional food photographers and stylists, keep on reading.

Hillshire Farm Food Styling Workshop

The three professionals offering their tips and tricks of the trade were:

William Smith: wsfoodstyle.com

Sara Remington: Sara Remington Photography

Helen Rosner: Saveur Magazine – Editor of Saveur.com

FOOD STYLING TIPS: William Smith

  • Keep it Simple.  Simple background.  Simple plates.  Everything looks good on white.
  • Odd numbers of food items look nicer than even.  For example: peas.
  • If it's pretty food step away from it.  If it's not, get up close to it.
  • If you spend too much time placing things, it will look like you did that.
  • Shoot salad quickly, while it's fresh.
  • Play with a plate until you are happy, then set up a brand new plate to photograph that looks the same.
  • Let meat relax.  Once sliced shoot it quickly.  Meat looks good on wooden cutting boards.
  • Paint on vegetable oil, then blot with a tissue so it doesn't look too slimey.  Use water instead of oil if you are getting too much reflection.
  • Use smaller plates.  They make food look better and more important.  Salad size plates work well.
  • Look at magazines and websites to see what you like and what you don't like.
  • Experiment by putting things in the shot then taking things away one by one until you get a shot you like.
  • Open up your garage door.  The light will always be good shooting into your garage.
  • Shoot in daylight on dark surfaces.

TIPS FOR FOOD BLOGGERS AND WRITERS: Helen Rosner

  • Think of your photo as an equal partner with your text.  When you add an image to your description it expands your language.
  • Choose the right lead photo.  Use photos that serve a purpose.  Challenge the boundaries between text and image.
  • Every photo in your story should serve a clear purpose.
  • Show photos that demonstrate how the dish came to be.  Don't saturate your post with pictures though.  You don't need to take and post photos of every step of the dish no matter how beautiful the shots are.
  • Readers can lose attention after 250-300 words so insert a picture to break it up.
  • Dropping a text box in your image creates something unexpected.
  • Take a picture of writing on brown paper – for example ingredients, simple steps, the name of the dish.  A wonderful example of this can be seen on Design Sponge.
  • Use one table in a good light source and put different things over it ie. table cloth for one shot, paper, wood, tiles etc for future shots.

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: Sara Remington

  • Camera recommendation: Canon Rebel XTi with a 50mm f/2.5 macro lens
  • Bring bits and pieces from your kitchen such as a blue jar, or bushes outside the kitchen window into the background of your shot.
  • Go pretty, simple and worn.  Stay away from new things.  Thrift shops are great places to pick up plates and other items to shoot food on.  When in doubt go rustic.  Try matte plates instead of shiny ones.  Recommendation: Heath Ceramics.
  • Use the color wheel to match colors when styling.
  • Use a black foamcore to create more dramatic shadows on shots.  Use white foamcore to bounce light.  Move the foamcore around until you get a shot you are happy with.
  • Doorways work well for getting great light for your shot.  She has also shot food in her bathtub before.

One thing that I loved about this workshop is that each person showed us images that they had taken, and broke down exactly how they captured it, whether it was taken in 4 separate shots and edited into one, where they took the shot, and how they came up with the idea for it.  It gave us a more intimate look into how a professional photographer and stylist captures the magnificent images that they do.

I hope I've been able to share a few new tips.  I know they have helped me a great deal.

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4 comments

Kathy August 22, 2011 - 7:18 am

Great Tips – sometimes I get good shots and sometimes I don’t. I’ll have to use these tips next time. Thanks!

Reply
Denise September 8, 2011 - 9:02 pm

Wow! Insightful tips. Thank you, i am learning a lot from your blog (:

Reply
Ellen Christian March 6, 2013 - 3:36 pm

These are great tips. Thanks so much for sharing!

Reply
MultiTestingMom March 6, 2013 - 6:27 pm

Some awesome tips here, thank you so much! I’ve been really working hard at my food photography on my Canadian Moms Cook blog 🙂

Reply

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