8 Facts About Food Stylists

Have you ever seen a photograph of food that looks so good it almost jumps off the page? What about a colourful photo of a birthday cake that looks so pretty you consider it art? Well getting food to look amazing takes a little work.

Luckily there are professionals out there who know what to do in order to make images pop. These professionals are known as Food Stylists and today FoodGrads is exploring the creative career of Food Stylists! Keep reading to find out if this creative career is right for you!

  1. Food Stylists prepare and present food

Food stylists are individuals responsible for:

Preparing, plating and presenting food.  They arrange food items in a way that looks appealing to the camera. Food stylists perform research on clients and dishes in order to create beautiful photos. Furthermore, they communicate with clients, photographers, prop stylists, advertising, commerce and marketing teams prior and during shoots. Some food stylists even cook or bake the food presented in an photo!

The description you see above is pretty general and does not describe every food stylist. For example, some food stylists are freelancers and perform every single task by themselves in the comfort of their homes. Some stylists may be required to go shopping for equipment and props prior to a shoot. It all depends on the company you work for and the client at hand.

  1. Food Stylists have an understanding of food

Although food stylists may not be food scientists they have a strong understanding of the connection cooking has with food. For example, they understand how salmon changes from a pink to orange when cooked or how to cook an over easy egg that has a fully white egg white. Food stylists develop a strong food knowledge by reading cookbooks and practice cooking/baking constantly. It is not uncommon for a food stylist to have a background in culinary arts.

  1. Food Stylists do not need degrees

Many food stylists do not have a culinary arts degree from a culinary institute or college. This is because food styling is a unique profession that allows the individual to self-teach themselves. Many resources exist for food stylist to hone their skills fur photography, cooking and creative design.

However, an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree can be extremely useful for becoming a food stylist. Formal training provides professionals with a solid foundation that can be used for their careers. That being said a food stylist can possess various educational backgrounds. Common education routes for food stylists include  include art, business, food science and marketing.

For example, George Brown College offers a Food and Media certificate which educates students of a variety of topics.  Courses include culinary arts, creative plate presentation and social media marketing. Alternatively, if you wanted to the test the waters and know if this could be a potential profession for you than try their single course on food styling.

  1. Food Stylists are creative

Food styling is a form of art, meaning it lends itself well to the creative. Take for example a photo shoot for an ice cream sundae. A food stylist is able to create a beautiful backdrop using items that can be found around the set. They have to be creative in choosing what props will accentuate the food. Furthermore, they know how to problem solve when the tools they need are not available.

  1. Food Stylists never perform the same days twice

If you are looking for a profession in which every day in unique than food styling is for you. Food stylists use a core set of skills (like photography) and apply them to new situations day. These situations range from shopping for props to filming an ad campaign for Youtube. campaign. Every shoot for a food stylist is unique. For example, one client may require the stylist to show case an ice cream sundae on dessert buffet while another requires it to be shot in front of a blank wall.

  1. Food Stylists may perform special tasks

Food styling is not a rigid profession as each shoot depend on the situation and client. Some food stylist develop their own recipes and then distribute it through a blog or social media. As result, some food stylists are skilled at using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, they may perform special tasks like cooking in a demonstration video and working with sourcing to obtain ingredients.

  1. Food Stylists have an odd work schedule

Food styling in the industry does not lend itself well to an exact schedule. Many food stylists are required to work on the weekends and evenings. Clients may be rushing to complete an ad complain requiring you to change your plans at the last minute. Therefore, food stylists have be flexible as this is not a 9-5 job.

  1. Food Stylists have these skills

  • Well organized-Food stylist may come to set a set not knowing what to expect. This does not phase food stylists. These professionals are well-organized as they the come prepared with every tool they see fit. It is essential they are organized because it helps to ensure a shoot goes smoothly and they can tackle any problem.
  • Attention to detail- Food photography is all in the details. A simple change in the placement of a spoon can make a substantial difference in the design of a plate and over all feeling of a dish.  By paying attention to the details food stylists ensure that all dishes come out looking attractive.
  • Team-work- Although some food stylists work completely alone this is typically not the case. Food stylists need to work with their clients, assistants, marketers and a variety of other roles. They take the time to speak with a speak and truly understand what they want.  Furthermore, they know when to take the lead when necessary and when to step back and listen.

Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a Chemistry student studying at Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She is currently on a path to find her place in the food manufacturing industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.


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