Rob Styling

The Magic of Food Styling


At Picture Smiths we pride ourselves on being dab-hands at a wide range of skills and disciplines within the design/marketing industry, including food styling for photoshoots. Here are some of our shots below and a little insight into how we do it. 

Making the best look even better
When it comes to professional food photography we look to our photographer network and accompany them on shoot to art direct. With many years experience in the team of food styling from previous lives, we go to great lengths to make sure the food looks (and stays) as authentic as possible. Some food looks so delicious that it pretty much sells itself, however, occasionally it takes theatrics to add a little magic to the food photography to make it look picture perfect. 

Shooting from the hip
Throughout the many hours it takes to complete a photoshoot, stylists are expected to solve any given crisis on the spot. No champagne? Apple juice and lemonade is the answer! Strawberries not red enough? A dab of lipstick will solve the problem.

We always have our toolkit containing toothpicks, tweezers, glycerine, blue-tac and all manner of weird and wonderful items that can be used on set. This is a bit like hair and makeup for food!

Nice buns
Getting a burger to stack up the way the photographer needs can be achieved with cardboard and toothpicks, strategically placed like hidden scaffolding. Sometimes these gravity defying structures are a sight to behold!

Fake ice cubes and glycerine
There’s no escaping the heat of the studio lights in food photography, especially when it comes to melting ice cream and frosted glasses. We always strive to never let the food control the shoot, so a simple trick is to swap out the genuine ice cubes for fake clear plastic ones, and take as long as needed to shoot it.

Condensation on a cocktail glass can be fleeting in the surroundings of a hot studio, so a spritz of watered down glycerine easily mimics cold condensation on a refreshing drink.

Hot stuff
Food doesn’t age well, and tends to lose its bright, peppery colours and juicy, sparkly glow as it sits out—and very quickly cools, even under the hot studio lights, so on all shoots, speed is of the essence.

One of the most infamous tricks of the trade that’s used to make a meal appear hot is using a damp ball of cotton wool which is microwaved then hidden within or behind the food and left to steam.

Oh crumbs
The devil is in the detail. It requires skill and practice to get things right and that’s where a good photographer and food stylist really make the difference. Food should always look as natural as possible and sometimes that requires creating a little mess... A poached egg looks so much better with yolk oozing out. If you cut a slice of freshly baked bread and some crumbs fall onto the plate or tabletop, they tell a story. This is where a photograph comes to life. 

Dressing for dinner
There’s a lot of preparation before a shoot, rounding up appropriate props. From cake stands and crockery to textured backgrounds and cutlery. Simply using a napkin arranged with some messy folds can add instant movement and texture to a photograph.

Looking good
Every food styling shoot gives us the opportunity to express a eye for design - and we LOVE food, so it's a labour of love for us!