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  • Writer's pictureLorentz Gullachsen

What is a Food Stylist?

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

People often get confused about the difference between a food photographer and a food stylist. As a professional food photographer I know that the boundaries of these two roles can get rather blurry. I hope that this information can help.

A food stylist is someone who makes food look fabulous. Often trained as a home economist or some who has an art training background, food stylists have often worked for magazines and then studios that specialise in food photography, They may work with a chef, or are in fact cooks that help test the food in a development kitchen. A stylist usually combines the knowledge of the production creation and presentation to create dishes for magazines or food manufacturers and can help food companies create the images that are used on all the advertising and packaging. Certainly most major take away brands employ a food stylist, although they may be freelancers who work on many accounts.

The food stylist, or the chef, will be the one responsible for the food preparation and its look. Their experience and skills are required to make the food look great by knowing how long a vegetable, or piece of meat should be cooked to look its best and how to prep the ingredients. The photographer's job, on the other hand, is to focus on elements such as lighting the dish and ensuring the format and look are right for the purpose the images are been taken for, and making sure the environment works from a technical as well artistic perspective.

Props, such as the plates, dishes, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths and utensils can be supplied by a stylist, but it is the photographers job to liaise with all parties to make sure everything is right at the time of the shoot, when the food is looking perfect, the tabletop, or set is dressed and the lighting right for the shot to be taken or filmed. As a food photographer, I often provide props knowing from years of experience what looks good and contrasts well with different foods and settings.

A food photographer and the food stylist work as a team. They compliment each other and deliver the highest standards of food photography, but as the styles and technology changes, the stylist can often become the photographer and the photographer becomes stylist, chef and influencer.

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