Sunday, 18 November 2012

How To Star Style Your Food Photographs - by Melissa Bakth

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It is with enormous pleasure that I introduce to you Melissa.  She captures some of the most beautiful food photographs that I have ever laid eyes on.  You can almost reach out and grab the delicious delights that she has photographed.  I bet they taste amazing too.  You may be familiar with her food journalism pieces in Desi-Info and do look out for her food article coming out in Living South Magazine next month for Christmas hot spots.  Most importantly she has also been involved in an art direction shoot with David Loftus; Oh My God - yes!  If she's good enough for Jamie Oliver, then she's definitely good enough for A Light Perspective.  Enjoy this guest post my lovely readers!

Food and design are my two greatest loves. Food photography is for me, the perfect combination of them both. There is nothing worse than a beautifully prepared meal that is terribly photographed- case and point, many of those horrible 90’s cook books. You all know the ones I mean- sterile, flat and unappetising.

Before I began cooking, painting was my thing, and I have found that a lot of the great food stylists out there apply the same rules of the canvas to the lens. Here’s my hit list of 5 easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy tips to styling your food shots.

1. Texture

Texture plays a huge part in food; both in it’s preparation and it’s photography. Often when we cook a meal, we are advised to add ingredients that will form layers of texture, and this is something I would also greatly advise when you photograph your food.  Dishes that have dynamic exteriors, or those that have great contrast in their surfaces make for great subjects. Even something as simple and un-extraordinary as a humble strawberry can be a pleasure to photograph with it’s pitted skin and green foliage.

2. Props/ authenticity

A fantastic way of transforming your shots, is to use accessorize your plate. The lists of possibilities are endless, crockery, cutlery, ribbon, chopping boards and so on. The trick is to find to things that will match your dish and give your photos an extra lift. Cooking a curry, then why not photograph in an authentic tiffin carrier? Homemade bread looks great in an organic basket and chopsticks make for a simple stamp of the East. You get my point. If you can’t find what you want in your own kitchen, then raid your mum’s house- trust me, I’ve picked up some absolute gems from mine; and if you’re after something a little different, then head to your local charity shop. There’ll be a veritable treasure chest of goodies there. Last visit, I picked up a set of beautiful hand glazed 1920’s tea-cups for 80p. Who say’s you can’t put a price on happiness?

3. Garnishing

Another prop that people often forget is garnishing- and I’m not just talking about a sad sprinkling of parsley- I mean, enough already, there are other herbs out there! No, by garnishing, I mean, taking any part of your dish and using it to really tell the story of it. Jamie Oliver is an absolute master of this. After you have prepared your meal, always leave a handful of ingredients so that you can topple it on the surface and finish your dish. Items like seeds and herbs are great as they will give great texture and vivid colour and will always look fresh. 

4. Difference in heights

Now this seems like an odd one, but photographing food that is stacked looks amazing. There is no particular science to it, but as with the element of texture, stacking techniques create shadows and the more inventive the food arrangement, the more interesting the shot. 

5. Creativity

At the end of the day, food is meant to be fun, so have fun with photographing it. There are no rules, so always try to push what you can do with it. More inventive and adventurous presentation will engage your viewers and make your food come alive, so give it a go!

By Melissa Bakth.

What do you think lovely readers?  Do comment below with your thoughts or questions for Melissa.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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