Dec 10, 2014

Food Photographer Michael Ray Reviews The Food Stylist's Handbook

Michael Ray is a Pittsburgh-based food photographer, and we were delighted that he took the time to review The Food Stylist's Handbook!

Even though I’m a food photographer and not a food stylist, I found this book very interesting and quite informative.  I’ve been around more than a few different food stylists over the  years, and I’ve always found it to be fascinating, how different stylists attack the same problem in different ways.  Food Photographers probably have this in common with them.  I think the reason for this is that we are all in our own little bubbles, and afraid to share the tricks of the trade with our competitors. I know I’m guilty of this, so it’s nice to see someone willing to share and teach the next generation. Denise, you did a great job.

As you can imagine, this book is full of some amazingly beautiful food photography and some  great behind the scenes photos too. I can only ponder the hours she took to write and assemble all this information and great content.

Table of Contents:

Food Styling as a career
What a food stylist does
The Different Niches of Food Styling
Starting a food styling business
Building a styling kit
Marketing your food styling business
Making money and selling your services Preparing for magic time
Tricks of the trade

The book spends a lot of pages talking about the career of food styling, including a brief history, FAQs, the traits of a good food stylist, the importance of a culinary background, who the clients are, and how to get started in the career. AND that’s only the first chapter! This book is a treasure trove of information for the aspiring food stylist, and would be a great textbook of any future course taught about the subject of food styling.

That’s all well and good, but as food photographers, what’s in it for us, you might ask…?  After all, why would a food photographer want to buy a book about food styling?
This is what I took away from the book:

1. First off, it’s kind of interesting to see the behind-the-scenes photos from so many different food photography studios.  In my career, I’ve only seen one, and that one is mine.  So it’s nice to at least get a glimpse at other studios.  And the food photos are inspiring too.  They’re definitely fist class, and I’m going to have look in the credits of the book to see who I should add to my “100 Best Food Photographers” list.

2. A little while back, I assembled my own little food styling kit to take on location, as sort of a “just in case” collection of useful tools for when I was forced to do a little styling on my own.  Boy, what a good idea that was!  I’ve used it several times and have even loaned it to one of my regular stylists when she discovered that she had inadvertently left her kit at home one day.  I would highly recommend that if you are a food photographer, that you put together a similar kit, and what should you put in that kit?  Well, Denise goes into great detail about what’s in her kit.  Your kit doesn’t have to be as extravagant, but her kit is a really great source for ideas of the items that you might want to include in your own kit.

3. The chapter of the book that generates the most sales is probably the one entitled “Tricks of the Trade”.  Denise goes into great detail on the following subjects:

Tricks for shooting poultry
How to make great grill marks
How to make different cuts and types of meat look good
How to make waves in your bacon
Burger making tricks
Coloring your meats to get the correct tone
The tricks of cutting and placing condiments
How to “build” a sandwich
How to fluff up pancakes
How to substitute glue for milk in cereal shots
And the tricks go on, and on, and on, and on…

If you’re a beginning stylist and you don’t have this book, you’re CRAZY!

And if you’re a photographer, you probably should get this book too, because you never know when you’ll have a shoot where the stylist is struggling a little.  If she (or he) is, and you might be able to “tactfully” make a suggestion or two that can save the day.  If nothing else, you’ll be able to talk a little shop with new stylists and with clients so that they actually think you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.

Or… You might be on location some day, working with a chef that makes really good tasting food, but maybe not really good looking food, and you can “tactfully” come to the rescue there too.   Just remember that “tactfully” part…

Click here to enjoy the review in its entirety.

Dec 8, 2014

Association Of Food Bloggers Learns How To Style

"As I stood in the check out line at the grocery store the other day, the beautiful images of the food splashed across the covers caught my eye. I couldn’t help picking up one to flip through as I waited. But I’m a little cynical now when it comes to these gorgeous spreads. You see, I recently attended a food styling class that gave away many of the tricks of trade to creating the images you see in the glossy magazines."

I had a great time teaching at The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta recently. This is a lovely write up of our time by The Association of Food Bloggers based in Atlanta. Click here to enjoy the post in its entirety.