By Lauren Melenbacker, Account Coordination Intern
Mondays are hardly anyone’s favorite day of the week, but I was genuinely excited for work this past Monday, because it was food styling day at the office. Food styling days mean preparing, plating, and shooting delicious custom recipes for our clients. What’s more fun than making a little mess and a lot of yummy food at work?? Probably nothing.
Here are a few things I picked up during my first experience with the focused pandemonium that is the food styling process:
1) The food is (probably) not ok to eat! As someone who enjoys cooking and subsequently eating, this was a tough one for me. Sometimes, a plated dish requires some special attention on set in order to get the most aesthetically appealing photograph, and this attention to detail is not always… edible. Thankfully, though, this corn salsa was safe for human consumption!
2) Imperfections can be stylish, when employed appropriately. Some dishes, like this beautiful pork tenderloin, need to be simple, clean, and styled to perfection so that the photograph evokes just the right feeling: easy, everyday luxury.
Other dishes, like kid-friendly mini muffins, thrive with a little chaos because it appeals to the rambunctious, easy-going nature that youthfulness evokes.
3) Props are your friends. Choosing the right dish to plate the food on and other complementary dishes and utensils to accent the plated dish are crucial to getting a well-styled shot. These selected props create, in large part, the overall scenario that the art director is going for, so they have a pretty important job. For this salmon dish, we incorporated the wood it was grilled on into the staged scenario because it rounds out the shot and creates a complete look.
4) Ice cream is NOT your friend. When it comes to food styling, anyways – let’s not get carried away. To get this shot, we styled the set and the berry cobbler just right, then literally ran from the freezer to the set and scooped out the ice cream before it could melt (the set is located in a sweltering warehouse and it was 100°+ that day, naturally).
5) “Heroes” are not easily found. Take these strawberry slices, for instance: I sliced strawberries for a good 45 minutes looking for “hero” slices, and only wound up with 5 or 6 that made the cut. And the arugula that garnished those perfect slices? That took probably 20 minutes of searching through the bag for only the most “interesting” and “beautiful” leaves. Crazy, right? No, this strangely judgmental process is actually totally necessary to get a great shot.
6) Creative. Hectic. Hilarious. These three words sum up my first food styling experience. Food styling days bring everyone in the office together over creative custom recipes and even amidst the hectic atmosphere are so fun they almost feel like a day off.