She’s been a professional food stylist and recipe tester for 15 years, working extensively with Jamie Oliver, among many others. Here are Becca Sulocki’s best tips for creating more appealing food photos.
Last week we gave you guys 5 tips on how to become a better food photographer. Today, we’re stepping up the game with some expert tips from a professional food stylist. A food stylist is the creative mastermind behind all those mouth-watering food pics that seem to be everywhere these days. So if you feel bad when your Caesar salad croutons don’t have that perfect cut as you’ve seen on TV… Read on: we’re about to share some of the best food styling secrets with you!
Do you use any specific tools when styling your food?
− Second hand shops and auctions always hold hidden gems. Tools of the trade can be quite obscure − tweezers, superglue and tampons are all in my work box (you wouldn’t believe the steam a microwaved tampon gives hidden under pasta!).
Is the food edible after you’re done with it?
− When I started food styling fifteen years ago there were many tricks that were used to enhance food. Chicken was often only partially cooked and browned with boot polish and I’ve spent far too many days of my life super gluing sesame seeds onto the top of burger buns or sorting perfect sweet corn kernels for three days straight.
These days the food is almost always edible − although probably stone cold and perhaps with a brush of oil to create a sheen. The styling fashion is far more honest today, which can only be a good thing.
You wouldn’t believe the steam a microwaved tampon gives hidden under pasta!
You have worked with Jamie Oliver for a long time. What have you done for him?
− I’ve worked with Jamie Oliver on a freelance basis for over ten years, initially on TV shows and later as a recipe tester. My role is to check that the recipes work perfectly and if I feel they need any alterations I discuss this with Jamie and his food team.
What would you say is a common mistake when restaurants and cafés try to capture their food with a camera?
− The most common mistake that cafes and restaurants make when styling their menus is trying too hard. Keep each dish simple and representative of what your customer will actually receive when they order from your menu. Colour and texture can make or break a shot, use herbs or drizzle dressing around a plate to add depth and interest. And never, ever over-promise.
What are your best hacks to great food photos?
1. Experiment and have fun. Some of the best dishes are created through disaster (Eton Mess, the Queen’s favourite dessert, started life as a pavlova that was dropped).
2. Try holding your camera level to the subject, choose an area of the dish that is interesting and focus on that.
3. Painting on a little extra sauce or oil can bring tired food back to life.
4. Use different effects. Sepia, black and white and altering brightness can all give totally different results to the same picture.