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Food Styling Tips

Nothing says “Take my money” as much as a fantastic, well thought out food pic. But what if you just like taking pictures of your meals for the ‘gram?

You’re definitely not going to want to be spraying your food with water (to make it look glossy) or replacing your ice cream with mashed potato (hey, you do have to eat this food) like the professional food stylists.

There are less food-damaging ways to make your food pictures look drool-worthy. To help you out, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get the best picture possible without compromising on the quality of your dish.

The main thing about styling food is that you want it to look as appetizing as possible. So the first thing is:


Make the most of natural light. Open the blinds, pull back the curtains and place your dish as close as possible to the window. It’s even better if you can take your photography outside. Natural light shows all and you want your food to look clear. Also, natural light picks up details that a flash won’t and you won’t get the weird yellowy tinge from flash photography.

Frame your food

Leave about a thumb-length border around your plate. Arrange all your food within this border. If there are many components to the dish, push them all together to make them look as one. A little negative space creates elegance.

What if you can’t form such a wide “frame” for your dish. As an example, soup can look pretty boring, even when you do sprinkle some greens on it. One way to make it look more appetizing is to use a bowl in a contrasting colour. Pour your pumpkin soup into a blue or green bowl and sprinkle some toasted croutons. If croutons are not part of the dish, how about some bread? Chunks of fresh sourdough or French baguette placed next to the bowl gives the picture context. It suggests that the bread can be used to soak up the soup or wipe the bowl clean.

Textured backgrounds

The background matters. Your food is the star and needs to stand out so it’s best to place it against a contrasting background. Then again, make sure your background does not distract from the dish. In other words, don’t use a busy tablecloth for a dish with multiple components. White dishes also set off most food best. Another cool trick is to use ugly backgrounds for good photographs. Place the white plate on a rusty barrel or your stead on a worn chopping board and see how the food immediately looks 10 times more appetizing.

An extra tip: Use matte rather than glossy backgrounds. You don’t want reflections ruining your shot.

Make it look real

Set the scene for your food. Place cutlery around the dish. If it’s Asian, add the chopsticks or some “fallen” rice grains around. If you’re shooting breakfast, some butter and eggs with your toast or milk with your granola will make you want to jump out of bed and head down for breakfast. If possible, add some colour to your picture with some cut fruit.

Before and After

Don’t be afraid to place the raw ingredients within the frame. A head of lettuce, some lemon slices and the knife used to cut it can be strategically placed around a bowl of salad. Another interesting way to present the ingredients is to place all (or most of them) on one plate and the finished dish on another plate. Take the picture from overhead though. You want to show off the ingredients and a side-angle just won’t cut it.

Play with your food

Forget about what mama told you about playing with your food. If you want a good photograph that tells a story, touch and shift your food around. No table available? Cup the bowl in your hands. Place that cereal on the grass. Pick up the burger in your hands. Just imagine yourself enjoying that bite and put the spaghetti in your mouth. Whatever it is, have fun.

MIFB is the largest Food and Beverage Focused Trade event in the country which offers a platform for businesses from the industry to showcase their products and services at an international level. In conjunction with 20th Anniversary, MIFB has started its first-ever nationwide roadshow from Northern to Southern Malaysia and this successful journey continues to East Malaysia. If you are looking to introduce, exchange, and learn about the latest innovation and technologies then MIFB is the place to be.

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