Food styling is a true specialty and I absolutely love working with talented food stylists. But, many times food photographers have to work without a food stylist which is why it’s incredibly important to have some food styling tools on hand to help you. Let’s dive into my favorite food styling tools that I use when I’m shooting food & drinks by myself.
This post contains affiliate links. Read the affiliate disclosure.
What Is Food Styling?
Food styling is how you plate food for the camera. It’s not an easy task and if you’ve ever shot by yourself, you’re well aware of the technique and time involved with it. Food styling and food photography go hand-in-hand. If the food looks bad, the image will look bad. If the food looks good, but is poorly lit or composed, the image will look bad. While lighting and composition are super important, making sure the food looks its best is just as important.
Pro Food Styling Tip
Make sure you are ready to shoot BEFORE the food comes out. Food is incredibly time sensitive and starts to look bad when it sits for too long (which typically isn’t very long). You want to capture the food looking fresh and beautiful, so being prepared with your camera, lighting and equipment ahead of time is a game-changer.
Food Photography Styling Tools
Food Styling Tool 1: Glycerin
Glycerin is essential on a food photography shoot. It helps you give ingredients or glassware a little “spritz” to make it look fresh and more appetizing. I like using glycerin & water together more than just using water on its own (although these Evion Spray Bottles are really great).
When you mix glycerin with water (usually a 1:1 ratio), it helps form little droplets that will stick to the food and make it look oh-so-fresh. Water tends to drip away quickly leaving you with something that looks more wet than fresh. You’ll want to have some small spray bottles for this as well.
Food Styling Tool 2: Food Styling Kit
Mike got me this food styling kit a while back and I absolutely love it. There are a variety of different spoons and different sized tweezers that have come in handy when styling foods that require some careful construction. Using your fingers to adjust things is an option, but it’s much harder to be precise.
Food Styling Tool 3: Makeup Wands
These makeup wands are good for more than just lip gloss. 😉 I have used Q-tips in the past for cleaning up small smudges on the dishes, but sometimes the cotton will leave behind small pieces of lint which I have to clean up on set or during editing. These wands are less fluffy and much cleaner to use for food styling.
Food Styling Tool 4: Makeup Wedges
Continuing with the makeup trend, makeup wedges come in handy on a food photography shoot too. They can help position food or props that look like they’re not sitting correctly, give a little boost to things that might look flat or provide support for objects that are round on the bottom.
Food Styling Tool 5: Museum Putty
I highly recommend getting some museum putty. A little goes a long way and helps hold things in place. It’s sticky, but won’t damage anything it sticks to. It’s more secure than the makeup wedges that I just mentioned, so it can be nice to have a stronger option on set if when you need it.
Food Styling Tool 6: Soft Fan Brushes
I didn’t learn about using soft fan brushes on set until I was working with a food stylist who wanted crumbs, but not as many that were currently exposed. These brushes made it really easy to get rid of unwanted crumbs and still keep the ones we wanted. I recommend getting a variety of sizes that are soft and anti-shedding.
Food Styling Tool 7: Paint Brushes
It’s good to have a selection of small paint brushes on hand in case you need to carefully touch up some of the food to give it a little more glisten, shine or color.
Food Styling Tool 8: Small Scissors
Having small scissors on set is key. They’re so convenient for trimming things like stems, leaves or pasta. Larger scissors are simply too clunky to use on delicate ingredients.
Food Styling Tool 9: T-Pins
T-Pins will come in handy when you’re building something like a burger or a sandwich where you need food to be positioned in a way that emphasizes layers. I love T-Pins because the “T” at the top makes it easier to remove them when you’re done. Toothpicks are a great tool to have on hand as well, but can be a little tricky to remove at times. If you are working with T-pins on set, be sure to make sure everyone knows the food is NOT edible. It’s easy to snack on food shoots, but the last thing you want is for someone to bite into a T-pin. (Yikes)
Food Styling Tool 10: Heat Gun
A heat gun is definitely a great tool for your food photography. It comes in handy for foods like cheeseburgers or pizzas or any food that needs to look ‘freshly heated’ or melty. A lot of foods are time sensitive and lose that appetite appeal pretty quickly. And, sometimes you need to make adjustments to the set, camera or lighting which takes time. A heat gun can help you re-capture the perfect melting point even after the food has been sitting for a little while.
Food Styling Tool 11: Matte Spray
Matte spray comes in handy with glassware. It helps create more of a frosty look to the glass. Then, you can use your 1:1 glycerine to water mix to add the look of condensation if you want. It’s a pretty cool trick, especially for drink photography.
I hope this post inspired some fun ideas for your food styling tools. Everything I listed has been a game-changer for me when I’m shooting and styling by myself. Did I miss anything that you find handy for your food styling? Comment below and share some of your favorite food photography styling tools. Reach out with questions anytime!
READ MORE ABOUT: FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click or make a purchase through my site, I might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I actually use and support.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2021.