Food Styling Potential: Tips to Boost Your Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Play with colors
  2. Arrange items thoughtfully
  3. Use natural light
  4. Focus on texture and details
  5. Choose the right props
  6. Style your food fresh
  7. Practice food photography
  8. Experiment with angles
  9. Learn from experts
  10. Keep learning and improving

Unlocking your food styling potential is like opening a door to a world where your culinary creations don't just taste fabulous—they look fabulous, too. Whether you're a food blogger, a passionate home cook, or a professional chef, mastering the art of food styling is an exciting journey. If you're seeking ways of getting better at food styling, you've come to the right place. We'll share some practical tips that will help you spice up your food presentation skills. So, let's dive in and start colorizing your food canvas!

Play with Colors

One of the first steps to getting better at food styling is learning how to play with colors. Just like a painter with his palette, you too have an array of colors to work with—only your colors are the natural hues of the foods you're presenting.

Contrasting Colors: The color wheel isn't just for art classes. Use it in food styling to create vibrant, eye-catching dishes. Choose foods with contrasting colors. For instance, a plate of roasted sweet potatoes (orange) with a side of steamed broccoli (green) creates a beautiful contrast.

Monochromatic Themes: On the flip side, you can stick to one color family to create a soothing monochromatic theme. Think of a berry bowl with strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. It's a sea of reds and pinks that's as visually appealing as it is tasty.

Colorful Garnishes: Garnishes aren't just for decoration—they can add a pop of color, too. A sprinkle of chopped parsley can brighten up a bowl of spaghetti bolognese, while a slice of lemon can add a splash of yellow to a dish of grilled salmon.

So remember, when you're aiming for getting better at food styling, don't shy away from colors. They're your allies in making your dishes look as good as they taste!

Arrange Items Thoughtfully

Arranging your food and ingredients thoughtfully is another fundamental key to getting better at food styling. You're not just serving food, you're creating a visual narrative. Every element on the plate tells a part of the story, so make sure it's worth telling.

Balance: Distribute your food and props evenly. If you're styling a charcuterie board, for instance, don't cluster all your cheeses on one side and leave the other side bare except for a few grapes. Spread the items around to achieve a balanced look.

Space: Remember, empty space isn't your enemy—it can actually make your food stand out. Don't cram too many items on your plate. Give your food some room to breathe.

Height: Adding height to your dish can create visual interest. Stack pancakes, layer sandwiches, or use a tall glass for your smoothies. But remember, don't overdo it—the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a wonder, but a Leaning Tower of Pancakes might just be a mess waiting to happen.

Grouping: Group similar items together. All the strawberries in one spot, all the blueberries in another. This creates a sense of order and makes your dish more visually pleasing.

Remember, the way you arrange your food can transform a simple meal into a feast for the eyes. So take the time to arrange your items thoughtfully—it's a vital step in getting better at food styling.

Use Natural Light

Let's take a moment to appreciate the sun—not only does it keep our planet warm and cozy, but it also happens to be a food stylist's best friend. Yes, you heard right. When it comes to getting better at food styling, natural light is your secret weapon.

Why Natural Light?: Artificial lighting can often make your food look unnatural or unappetizing. On the other hand, natural light enhances the colors and textures of your food, making it look fresh and delectable. It's like the difference between a warm, fluffy homemade biscuit and a store-bought, frozen one. You know which one you'd pick, right?

How to Use Natural Light?: If you're indoors, set your food near a window. The light coming in will illuminate your dish beautifully. Now, you might be wondering, "What if it's too sunny?" No worries—just use a white curtain or a diffuser to soften the light.

If you're outdoors, avoid direct sunlight, as it can create harsh shadows. Instead, try to find a spot in the shade. The diffused light will give your food a soft, appetizing glow.

Remember, light is like the salt in your food—it can enhance the flavor when used right, but can also ruin your dish if overused. So harness the power of natural light and take your food styling game to the next level.

Focus on Texture and Details

Looking to take your food styling skills up a notch? Then it's time to pay attention to the texture and details of your food. Trust me, it's like adding a sprinkle of magic dust to your styling efforts!

Textures and details can make your food look more real, more appealing, and more delicious. Think about a freshly baked loaf of bread. Can you see the crunchy crust, the soft, fluffy interior, and the tiny pockets of air that tell you it's just perfect? Those are details that can make anyone's mouth water.

How to Show Textures?: Well, it's simpler than you might think. Let's say you're styling a salad. Don't just throw all the ingredients into a bowl. Arrange them thoughtfully to highlight the different textures. For example, place crispy lettuce next to soft, ripe tomatoes, and sprinkle some crunchy croutons on top. Voila, you've got a salad that looks as good as it tastes!

How to Highlight Details?: Lighting is key here. Remember the natural light tip we talked about earlier? Well, it comes into play here too. Use it to highlight the details of your food. For instance, if you've baked a cake, let the light fall on the frosting to highlight its creamy texture.

So, next time you're food styling, don't forget to bring out the textures and details of your food. It's a small step towards getting better at food styling, but it sure does make a big difference!

Choose the Right Props

When it comes to getting better at food styling, selecting the right props is like picking the perfect outfit for a big event. What you choose to surround your food with can either make it shine or overshadow it. So, how do you pick the right props?

Stick to Neutral Colors: Props with neutral colors allow your food to take center stage. Imagine a bright red strawberry tart on a plain white plate. The contrast allows the tart to pop, doesn't it?

Think about Size: If your plate is too big, your sandwich might look lonely and lost. If it's too small, your spaghetti might feel crowded. The size of your props should complement your food, not compete with it.

Consider Texture: Remember how we talked about focusing on textures in the previous section? Well, the same goes for your props. A textured plate or a rustic wooden board can add depth to your food photos.

Don't Overdo It: It's tempting to fill the frame with all kinds of props. But remember, less is more. You want the food to be the star of the show. So, choose your props wisely and place them strategically.

Choosing the right props is an art in itself. But with practice, you'll soon find it as easy as pie. And that's another step towards getting better at food styling!

Style Your Food Fresh

Food styling is a lot like presenting a live performance, with your food being the star of the show. To captivate your audience, the star needs to look its best. This means styling your food when it's fresh.

Freshness Matters: Imagine a bowl of salad. Now, a salad that's just been tossed, with crisp lettuce and vibrant veggies, looks much more appealing than one that's been sitting around for a while, right? That's the power of freshness!

Timing is Key: Let's say you are styling a hot, steamy bowl of soup. You don't want to wait until the soup loses its steam before you start clicking, do you? To capture the essence of your dish at its freshest, timing is everything.

Prepare Ahead: Just like you wouldn't wait until the last minute to prepare for an important meeting, don't wait until the last minute to prepare your food. Chop, peel, grate, or do whatever prep work you can in advance. This way, you can focus on styling and shooting when your food is at its freshest.

Have a Plan: Before you start cooking, have a clear idea of how you want to style and photograph your food. This way, you can move quickly and efficiently, ensuring your food looks its best.

Remember, the goal of food styling is to make your food look as delicious as it tastes. And nothing says delicious quite like fresh food. So, styling your food fresh is a surefire way of getting better at food styling.

Practice Food Photography

We've all heard the saying, "practice makes perfect," and it couldn't be more true when it comes to getting better at food styling. The art of food styling isn't just about arranging food; it's also about capturing it in the best light, literally and figuratively!

Work on Your Skills: Just like a chef sharpens their knives, a food stylist needs to sharpen their photography skills. This means understanding the basics of composition, color balance, and lighting. It's not just about taking a picture; it's about capturing a mood, a moment, a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Experiment: Don't be afraid to try new things. Try different lighting conditions, play around with various camera angles, and don't shy away from close-ups! Remember, you're trying to tell a story with your food, and sometimes, the details are what make the story come alive.

Patience is a Virtue: Sometimes, getting the perfect shot can take time. Lots of it. Don't rush. Take your time to capture the food at its best. If the first shot isn't what you envisioned, take another one. And another. And another. Eventually, you'll get the perfect shot, and all that patience will pay off.

Practicing food photography is indeed a vital part of getting better at food styling. So, grab your camera, get in the kitchen, and start clicking!

Experiment with Angles

Angles! They're not just for geometry class. In food styling, the angle at which you present and photograph your culinary creations can make a world of difference. So, how do you go about getting better at food styling by playing with angles? Let's dive in!

Overhead Shots: This is the go-to angle for most food bloggers and stylists. It's straightforward, easy, and lets you showcase the entire dish in one shot. But remember, going with the flow doesn't mean you can't add your unique twist to it. Try adding layers, textures, or props to make your overhead shots stand out.

45-Degree Angle: If you want your audience to almost taste your food through their screens, this is your angle. Shooting your food at a 45-degree angle makes it look more natural and appealing, much like how we see our food when we're about to eat it. This angle is great for dishes that have height or layers — like a stack of pancakes or a juicy burger.

Close-ups: Ever seen a picture of a droplet of sauce running down a scoop of ice cream, or the steam rising from a cup of coffee? Those are close-ups, and they're a fantastic way to capture the tiny details that could get lost in a wider shot.

So, the next time you're styling your food, don't just stick to one angle. Experiment, play around, and see how changing your perspective can elevate your food styling game. Remember, the world is your oyster, or in this case, your plate!

Learn from Experts

There's a simple truth in life — we learn best from those who have already walked the path we're treading. When it comes to getting better at food styling, this rule holds firm. Seeking wisdom from experts can significantly boost your skills and understanding of the craft. Here's how you can do it:

Masterclasses: A myriad of chefs, food stylists, and photographers offer masterclasses where they share their secrets and techniques. Names like Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, and Martha Stewart come to mind. While you can't physically attend these classes, you can always grab a cup of coffee and watch their recorded sessions online.

Books: Yes, good old books. They are treasure troves of knowledge. Books on food styling offer in-depth understanding of the subject. 'Plate to Pixel' by Helene Dujardin or 'Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera' by Delores Custer are excellent starting points.

Online Forums: Platforms like Reddit or Quora have numerous threads dedicated to food styling where people often share their experiences, tips, and even their pitfalls. Engaging in these discussions can help you learn from a collective pool of knowledge.

In your journey to getting better at food styling, remember that every expert was once a beginner. So, don't be disheartened if you don't get everything right the first time. The key is to keep learning, keep improving, and most importantly, keep styling!

Keep Learning and Improving

Without a doubt, getting better at food styling involves a continuous learning process. It's not a destination, but a journey that evolves with practice and time. Here's a practical approach to keep honing your skills:

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: It's easy to stick with what you know, but pushing the boundaries is where the magic happens. Try new ingredients, experiment with different cuisines, or play around with unconventional color schemes. The more you explore, the more you grow.

Keep a Styling Journal: A journal is more than just a place to jot down ideas— it's a platform where you can reflect on your work. Write about what worked, what didn't, and the changes you would like to make next time. It's a great way to track your progress and see how far you've come.

Stay Updated: Trends in food styling change just as quickly as they do in fashion. Following food blogs, magazines, or stylists on social media can help you stay updated and draw inspiration.

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither will your food styling skills. Be patient. Practice. And above all, enjoy the process. It's this love for the craft that will keep you motivated on your journey to getting better at food styling.

If you're looking to boost your food styling skills and explore the potential of creative directing, check out the workshop 'Intro To Creative Directing & Styling' by Marcbiakath. This workshop will provide you with valuable tips and insights on how to enhance your food styling techniques and take your creative directing skills to the next level.