food, Food News

July shoot: meal makeover

I often get quizzical looks when I tell people that one of the primary functions of my job is to style food. I suppose it does sound a bit strange, but it’s basically not all that different to styling a model - getting the hair, makeup and clothes just right - in my case it’s a question of the crockery, cutlery, and any other items you might see in the finished picture. And of course it’s also very important that I make sure the food looks delicious! That’s why you might see me adjusting a piece of parsley, or a grain of rice. Fussy right!? But it’s a lot of fun and what makes the picture work in the end. When I decide on a theme for each feature, I will often have a vision in mind, but it’s a question of finding the right ‘props’. Often I end up painting backdrops, sewing napkins, and sometimes I even go so far as spray-painting cutlery! I do as much of this before the shoot as possible, so while we are on-set, I can focus on getting the set-up and composition the way we want it. There is often a pre-conceived idea that food stylists paint the food with tar or spray it with varnish. This is quite old-fashioned, and most food stylists don’t employ these techniques any more (even though we still have our secrets!) I always prefer to shoot the food in its ‘natural state’ though, so that anyone trying the recipe at home doesn’t get a completely different-looking result. Luckily I have help in the kitchen - you can see my assistant, Poppy Gilsenan, hard at work, prepping the food for me, making sure I have everything I need, and it’s always fun when we shoot with photographer Russell Smith. Shoots are harder work than they may seem, but it really helps when you’ve got a great team of people on the project, and it beats sitting at my desk every day! Photographs: Lari Meyer