What Does A Food Stylist Do?

Jennifer Janz styling a cheeseburger on the set of a video shoot
Jennifer Janz is styling a cheeseburger on set for a video shoot

Telling people you’re a “food stylist” results in everything from confused looks to blank stares to hearing, “That sounds really fun.  What do food stylists do exactly?” Food Styling as a career is a very specialized and sometimes secretive field.

Food stylists do a lot and I like to think of myself as a “food artist”.  Just as any artist creates a work of beauty, food stylists do the same thing, only with food instead of clay, paint or a canvas.   Food stylists are artists who not only create food art but art that encourages sales for their clients! Simply, they turn food into art for the camera so people want to buy it.

So What Exactly Do Food Stylists Do?

Creating beautiful and delicious looking food is the primary role of a food stylist.  The food stylist is also responsible for working closely with the creative team before a photo shoot so they understand what the goals and guidelines are. The food stylist shops, preps, cooks and styles the food for the photography job they are hired for. They often hire their own assistants and team to get ready for and complete the job.

Pictures for magazines and cookbooks, photos on food packages, menus, billboards, and tv commercials all are very important selling tools for companies because customers make buying decisions based on how appealing the food looks in photos.  A good photographer is definitely needed to turn out good photos as well but the food stylist is what will make the food look beautiful enough to photograph.  Think of a food stylist as the hair and makeup person for the food.  Kind of a funny visual but this is really what happens.

Whose Creation Is It?

As briefly mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of the food stylist’s job is to work with the entire creative team to make a photographic product that is ultimately able to sell a product.  There are typically tight guidelines for the brands we are working with that must be followed in order for the end photograph to be successful. There are ways in which clients like their food depicted as well as the overall look and feel of the photo that must stay true to the brand. It’s very important to listen carefully and follow the vision of the brand and creative director. We must keep the goal of our food photos in mind during the process. We are responsible for getting customers to take the next step by creating enticing food.  Sometimes the end goal is to have the viewer purchase the actual food, like in a restaurant or advertisement, and sometimes it’s to attract more readers and fans. Two examples of the latter would be cooking magazines and blogs.  Food stylists create works of art and beauty so that customers and fans want to buy.  But, our works of art are never about us; it’s all about the company’s vision and goals. I like to say that food stylists are the liaisons between the creative’s vision and the camera. We get you to where you want to go.

Ask anyone who works in the food advertising or publishing industry and they will tell you how important a good food stylist is.  An expert with a passion for food and styling will “handle” food just like an image consultant would handle a person. It’s very important to make a great visual impression.

To learn more about the field of food styling or to get training from Jennifer, take one of her workshops or hire her to train your team by clicking here: http://afabulousfoodstylist.com/food-styling-training/

Jennifer Janz has been food styling for more than 25 years and has added The Food Styling Store to her online offerings. For more on tools, consultations, workshops, masterclasses and ebooks visit: http://www.thefoodstylingstore.com/