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Before we start with food styling tips to help your food blog stand out, let’s answer the question: What does food styling mean?

What does food styling mean?

It is the act of helping food look attractive, often for photography and video. It can include placement, props, garnishes, backgrounds and food plating. It can also mean moving away from a recipe in order for all elements of a dish looking their best, such as cooking meat and vegetables separately for a one-pot recipe so that the meat is brown and the vegetables retain their colour.

If the idea of changing a recipe to make food more attractive doesn’t fit with wanting to stay real and relatable, here are three top food styling tips for authentic food styling for your own recipes and food blog.

Food Styling Tip 1: Colour

Brown foods such as stews and chilli are one of the banes of food styling and photography. Brown food is rarely attractive on its own, and needs a lot of love as well as great lighting to show how delicious it can be.

One technique used by food stylists to add interest to brown food is use complementary colours which bring  contrast and interest. Complimentary colours are those that sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. Brown (or the reds and warm yellows of the colour wheel) sit opposite green.

What that means is that your food photos will perk up if you sit your meat or chocolate cake on a green plate, next to green vegetables or use green linens. The same goes for putting orange food or drinks on a blue background and purple or violet food on a yellow background.

Using complimentary colours in your food styling can perk up dull areas such as the brown of stews and other meats.

Food Styling Tip 2: Break it Up

When plating up your food, there is often a large expanse of one colour. While our eye doesn’t see that as a problem, within the frame of a camera lens, it can be. This is when garnishes are your friend. Green herbs on your meats and stews (see also complementary colours above) or pistachios on the top of smoothies can break up that large area of a single colour.

Garnishes come into their own on large areas of white or very pale colours such as feta cheese or pasta salads. The areas can look VERY contrasty and an ideal way to deal with that is break up the area with garnishes or flecks of colour. Feta cheese works well with chopped mint or chives, pasta salad would be great with herbs, finely chopped jalapeños or yellow and orange peppers. A bake with a béchamel sauce and/or cheese might have bread crumbs sprinkled on top and browned under a grill.

Food Styling Tip 3: Negative Space

Negative space helps the eye be drawn where you want it to go – your plate of tasty food. Negative space clears the clutter and allows your plate of food to breathe, in a design sense. It also gives you a break from finding more props or garnishes to fill the space. Just have a look at any of the professional food photos on Instagram – row after row of photos have areas of blank or empty space – negative space – around the plated food and props – the positive space.

If you want to use the principles of negative space, but not have it completely empty, you could use toning props such as a bowl or napkin the same colour as your background.

So there are three food styling tips to make your food photos better quickly and authentically. If you would like more tips, just click the link below for a PDF of 9 quick tips that you can print out and use to improve your food photography today.

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