What does a Food Stylist Do?
Imagine you’re flipping through a food magazine and you see an article on ice cream. Accompanying the article is a picture that activates your drool glands: A hot-fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream and a cherry on top, served in a frosted glass. You never knew food photography was so good at making your stomach rumble, and you’d like nothing more than to take a bite out of that sundae.
Doing so would be a very bad idea indeed. The ice cream you’re looking at might be a scoop of mashed potatoes. Or worse, it might be a mixture of corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar and shortening. That sundae is indeed too good to be true – and it’s all thanks to a food stylist.
A food stylist is a culinary professional whose job is to prepare food for photography, video or film. Making food photogenic is no easy task, and the best food stylists come to the job armed with an array of techniques to make meals look their best – even if it means replacing pancake syrup with 30-weight motor oil.
A Food Stylist Knows The Art of Diversity
The job of a food stylist has changed as advancing technology has made food photography a digital art. In the old days of film, food would often sit for hours under hot lights while directors of photography fiddled with f-stops and depths of field. These days, digital cameras make the process easier and faster – but quality food stylists still work with a unique palette, meaning they face challenges most other artists don’t even need to consider. It’s also important for food stylists to understand the ins and outs of photography and videography; that way he’ll know how a particular food item shows up on the page.
A quality food stylist doesn’t just arrange food artfully. Often he has to make food taste good as well. When preparing food for commercials or cooking shows, for instance, it might be a bad idea to pour Pennzoil on pancakes, since actors might have to eat the food. And some laws stipulate that the food displayed in advertisements must match the food being advertised – so until Baskin Robbins makes mashed potato their 32nd flavor, food stylists will need to be adept at getting difficult-to-shoot foods looking their best.
A Great Food Stylist Has Flair
Dan Macey is an award-winning food stylist and food consultant with a broad range of experience in culinary writing and photography, recipe development and cooking instruction. As the principal at Dantastic Food, Dan has the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct any recipe, and produce mouthwatering food images as a result. His keen eye for composition along with experience in food presentation completes Dan’s mastery of the food styling art.5>
Dan has experience producing print advertising, packaging, live or taped television and editorial food images for books and magazines. For many television or still photography shots, he also provides the props to best complement the food prepared for the client. Dan is known for his can-do attitude and ability to quickly grasp and understand the needs of a particular client and project.
So the next time you’re reading a food magazine, ask yourself: How did they get the risotto to look so creamy? How did that roast get so golden brown? And is that ice cream from a creamery?
Or is it from Idaho?BACK TO ALL POSTS