Can you foodstyle on a budget?

Ever since I began to develop an interest in Foodstyling I wanted to start small and stay within a budget.As aspiring foodbloggers and foodstory tellers am sure many out there face the same constraint. And while the truth is foodstyling is an expensive skill to develop and maintain, there are some tips and tricks that I will be sharing here from my experience which can help you tell your food story without costing you the earth.

To begin with let’s see what kind props work in a foodstyling setup. While selecting props it becomes necessary to look for one’s that tell a story. Most food pictures are shot like its a mug shot or science exhibit. Look at food and the dish and see the beauty of it, taste it, experience it and experience the feel, the memories it brings to you and hold on to this emotion, as this is the story you want to tell. This is what you aim to highlight in your pictures.Still clueless!? Think about how this would be cooked traditionally, what would this be eaten with, what ingredients make this dish. These will give you an idea as to what kind of props would work for a food shot. But it doesn’t stop here. You may have a few utensils that you have listed now but the next step is to filter these out for possible reflectivity. The more reflective the material of the utensil, more the distractions it will create in your frame.Afterall, photography is about the controlling of light and your utensils need to be able to provide you that versatility. Hence the choice of non reflective materials for utensils is essential. Which is why ceramic, earthen, wood utensils are an excellent choice. Not only do they not reflect light, but they also make great props and tell a story.

Another aspect that needs to be considered is the size of utensils. Many make a mistake of using the same utensils that you cook in or serve guests to be used in food shots but this makes it more difficult to showcase the food and also requires cooking a whole lot more quantity. The main thumb rule in photography is perception. And with camera angles and the proximity in play, small is more. Always look for small utensils with wider mouths so that the food is visible and with a small quantity of food you can achieve the ‘filled to the brim’ look.

Utensils with beautiful rims are a plus.

Colors of utensils also play an important role. Since you are planning to style food on a budget expense, look for select few utensils in colors that go with a wide variety of foods that you are going to cook. For example if you are specialising in writing recipes on Indian food, browns of wood and earthenware and wood utensils work beautifully, so does gold of brass utensils.These colors complement the predominant reds, yellows, greens and oranges of Indian curries.

When it comes to choosing ladles, size is again an important aspect. Huge ladles need even huge set up. Look for smaller sizes that are in proportion with your serving utensils of the shot. Look for patterns on ladles and spoons which will add to the beauty of the shot.

Our whole intention as a stylist is add texture, color and layers to the image and tell a story of the beauty of the food. And many a times the hero that is the food itself may not be so beautiful which is when these small details add the required props required to enhance the beauty of the image and reinforce the feel of a beautiful image.

Next aspect is old is gold. Many a times when I put my brass props for a wash and my mum is around, she ends up scrubbing them clean till they are shiny which is so contrary to the whole aim of foodstyling. Rusty iron kadai? Perfect. They tell a story. You want the age to show. These are the tiny details which a non foodstylist will never comprehend. And a real foodstylist will never tell you.

With all these tips I hope you have enough gold to get you started on your foodstory telling journey.

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