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We do a lot of food styling around here for brands looking for craveable custom content. But no matter how delectable our brands’ products are, food styling takes dedication to details, and a creative approach.

Five minutes on Instagram should convince you of this: You know the pho at the place down the street is incredible. But the muddy, user-generated photos on Instagram are often enough to put you on a pho fast forever.

You want your food photos for social to be tempting and attractive. Here are our Top 5 Tips for Food Styling for pros and hobby bloggers alike:

Tell a Story

Storytelling shots have started to take center stage, making use of creative lighting and props. The fun challenge for food photographers is trying to capture the behind-the-scenes of the product: The artful expression of where the raw ingredients come from, and who’s hands are taking the time to pluck it from the ground. screen-shot-2017-03-22-at-9-21-10-am

 

Add Movement

  • Allow food to spill over naturally: Getting a bit messy helps add movement and life to your photographs.
  • Motion Blur: Though it is often related to poor lighting or inferior technique, motion blur can illustrate dynamic energy when used with purpose.
  • Visual flow: This is one we all know well, but is still worth mentioning. “Repeating elements can establish rhythm and build momentum to carry the eye from one point to the next. And progressive gradations – of color, of size, of light, of shape – are especially powerful in gently coaxing the eye through a photograph,” says photographer Sarah Wilkerson.

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Include Texture

  • Parchment Paper: Add texture to plates: Lining plates with parchment or baking paper helps to add visual interest and soften the lines of your plates.
  • Floors: Need a better backdrop? Try looking down: Cement, wood, tiles, burlap, and carpets.
  • Ingredients: Mix up your toppings! Pay attention to their size, cut and color. screen-shot-2017-03-22-at-9-25-04-am

 

Add Reality

  • Dig in and reshoot: Once you have a beauty shot of the whole dish, eat or serve some out and then take another shot. Often a half-finished plate is more appetizing than the original whole.
  • Break some cookies: Cut the steak! This illustrates that someone has already dug in and enjoyed this, and so can you. Messy can work just as effectively as keeping it clean. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Add people: Sure this seems obvious, but in can help incorporate motion, interest and realism. Next time, throw in a few friendly models to eat your meal while you take your overhead shot.

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Consider Color — Not Necessarily Taste

  • Kitchen Bouquet: Thin some out with water, brush or lightly spray on over the lighter area of the food.
  • Soy sauce: This usually has a more yellow hue (great for toast and browning).
  • Angostura Bitters: Gives a nice amber color.
  • Paint Brush: Food can start to look dried-out. Have a bowl of sauce or your preferred coloring agent to freshen up the goods during your shoot.

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Jason Cormier

Jason Cormier

As co-founding Partner of Room 214, Jason is dedicated to helping people and companies grow and innovate. He is a best-selling author of Transformative Digital Marketing, is on HubSpot's Global Partner Advisory Council and serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs at Watson University. He believes in acting out of love instead of fear, connected leadership and open book management.
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