What is a Food Stylist Anyway?

17 February 2012

By Contributing Food Editor Jared Levan

Dear Non-Food Stylists,

I would like to set the record straight on what exactly we, as food stylists, do for you and your endless love of food. Though you may not realize, food as you know it could not be the same devoid the skills we employ to practically every photo shoot or TV show you’ve ever seen.

For example, do you think the limes in this photo just happened to fall into frame and angle themselves perfectly in respect to the light source? Nope. Did this perfect sprig of cilantro trim and place itself? Don’t think so.

While the responsibility of actually taking the photo still lies with the photographer, the task of making the frame composition as beautiful as possible falls to us, the stylists–photographers know photography, food stylists know food.

Perhaps an analogy will help. Though we’d hardly claim to be as chic, think of us as an army of Rachel Zoe’s (HUGE fan!), dispatched upon the culinary world to make everything look fabulous; we wouldn’t dare send a “client”–e.g. turkey sandwich–in front of the cameras without looking flawless and neither would Rachel if that client were a celebrity.

Instead of choosing from a wardrobe of designer pieces, we choose from a selection of perfect, un-bruised produce. In place of make-up and accessories, we use everything from rubbing alcohol and tweezers to super glue and paint brushes, some of which are seen here…

The result is food porn. Here is an example of my own work:
Monster Mushroom Burger styled for Bobby Deen’s Not My Mama’s Meals

The moral of the story: food stylists make good food look great so when somebody tells you it’s what they do for a living, you won’t have to say “oh, neat…what’s that?”

Now you know.


Jared Levan

4 Comment

  1. kurtcyr says:

    it always amazes me how the most unappetizing things are done to food in order to make it an appetizing shot. Hmmm-pass the rubbing alcohol!

  2. One of the best blog names ever! Very cool and catchy. I’m coming here for the first time and can’t wait for more posts. You have a lovely space here. When you have the time, do drop by my space. I just made some lemon and cream spaghetti and would love to hear what you think. See ya!

  3. rae says:

    that seems like SUCH a fun job!

  4. Rose says:

    Although I think food stylists are as awesome and talented as room stylists and I appreciate what you do… I can’t help but feel that all of that “un-bruised produce” you use contributes to society wanting “perfect” foods at the grocer’s which in turn results in perfectly good and edible food being thrown out because it doesn’t “look good enough.” So, props to you for your job, it’s awesome, but man I wish we didn’t want everything so sterile and “perfect.”

Comments are closed.