11 Amazing Photo Styling Tips

11 Amazing Photo Styling Tips

 

nectarine tart open table

I have always been a little in awe of my friend, Lisa.

She writes a blog with the most amazing photographs.

Not like a little amazing….like the kind of amazing where you study her photos and think to yourself, why didn’t I stack the plates on a cutting board and add a kind of fuzzy bottle of milk and finish off the scene with sprinkles?

Why?

Well…..today Lisa is going to tell us all about the why and the how and behind the scenes of brilliant photo styling.  It’s just like a mini class with beautiful pictures.  She’s going to share her top 11 tips for getting photos to look like the one I just posted above.

And one more thing.  As you read the tips…you might notice the occasional aside in parenthesis.

That’s me.

And my two cents.

We can’t miss a blog post.  🙂

Take it away, Lisa.

peach cobbler dish6

When KariAnne asked me share a few food photography tips, I was honored and honestly a little nervous too because I’m not an expert. I still struggle with all the things about photography that you probably struggle with too. However, I have found a handful of things that work well for me and I’m happy to share 11 of my favorite tips with you today.

(total aside:  See how sweet she is?  That picture totally does not look like it’s struggling.)

lisas photo tips boards

1. Collect textured wood, cutting boards, crates, large floor tiles and trays

I think some of my most appealing photos include textures backdrops and accessories that compliment my food. It’s amazing how a little piece of wood peeking out from under a dish can make a difference in the photo.

(total aside:  Note to self.  Gas station pizza would photograph so much better on an antique cutting board.)

lisas photo tips dishes

2. Shop flea markets, and specialty shops for vintage dishes and linens

Keep your eyes peeled at those flea markets for vintage bowls, plates or other unusual props and rustic fabrics, linens and lace that can be used to enhance your shots and add texture and interest to the overall presentation.

(total aside:  I want that clock plate.  Oh…and those stirrer things.)

photo tips ramikan

3. Great props are right under your nose

I found a stack of old backing trays in my mom’s basement. You know the kind that has that fantastic burned-in seasoning? I’m so glad I got wind of them before she tossed them. Definitely raid your mom’s cabinet for gems like this.

(total aside:  Seriously.  This picture.  Makes. Me. Sigh.  Do you think it’s the tiny bit of blueberry dripping down the edge?)

lisas photo tips boards photo tips tray trio

4. Use white foam core and black foam core boards

You can find foam core at most office supply or craft stores. They’re like poster boards but thicker. I use the white boards to help throw light onto my subjects. Try using the black foam core as a dark background for your food photos.

lisas photo tips muffins

5. Seek out natural light

Find a good window with streaming natural light. I have identified two windows in my house that provide great light at different times of day. My family looks at me like I’m crazy when they see me carrying fancy foods to an upstairs bedroom but that’s where some of the best light is located.

(total aside:  Also remember that your rooms photograph differently depending on the weather outside.  I have a dining room that never met a cloudy day it didn’t like.)

lisas photo tips copper pot

lisas photo tips copper pots2

6.  Invest in a diffuser

I also use a diffuser (available at any camera store) to help soften the window light which can be pretty harsh sometimes.  You can also use a sheer, white curtain to get the same effect.  A step stool will help you to position yourself directly above your subject for that overhead shot.

(total aside:  Remember not to photograph yourself in the copper.  Especially if you are having a bad hair day.)

moody set graphic

moody set4

7. Crumbs, spills and strategically placed berries are a good thing

Whatever food I’m shooting, I often take some of it and sprinkle a little on the side of the dish for a more natural, read-to-eat type of presentation.

If you’re featuring berries-drop some berries around the plate. If you’re shooting a dish with flour, sprinkle some around the plate for that natural, lived-in look.

lisas photo tips crumbs

8. Layer the elements in the photo

Try to imagine that the entire setting is divided into horizontal planes that build out from your main subject. These horizontal planes can in the front OR the back of your main subject. Fill-in these “planes” with small props, dishes, crumbs, pieces of fabric, etc. This layering effect will give your food photos, dimension and visual interest.

Depending on your lens and aperture the props within the “planes” that surround your main subject may be blurred but that can be a nice effect too.

 (total aside:  She made leaves from pie crust.  Be still my heart.)

lisas photo tips layering

 9. Use photo editing software

I used to think that using photo editing software was somehow cheating. Then I realized that just about every one of my favorite photographers edits shots. It’s OK to tweak your photos with programs like Photoshop, Lightroom and/or others.

In the photo below, I used Photoshop to adjust color, exposure and sharpening to make the finished picture more appealing.

Big difference in the before and after, huh?

(total aside:  You can always use PicMonkey, too.  Great place to start.)

lisas photo tips waffle cones5

10. Study food magazines and favorite photo/food blogs and even cooking catalogs

I’ll buy a cookbook or food magazine in a minute if I love the photos. Also, don’t toss those Williams-Sonoma catalogs until you’ve browsed them for styling ideas too.

Check out WS’s cheeseburger on the left and my pulled pork version on the right.

catalog comparison

11. Use a tripod and practice often

Finally, a tripod will help prevent accidental camera movement which causes blurry photos. Use one whenever you can. Of course these tips won’t mean anything if you don’t practice, practice and then, practice some more.

(total aside:  I am living proof of a tripod works.  I owe all the pictures on my blog to my tripod.)

chili

By the way, I’ve written quite a few posts on photography, styling, building photo backdrops and more on my blog.

Pop by for more easy tips and food styling inspiration.

(total aside:  She’s right.  You don’t want to miss these posts. I’ve listed some of my favorites below.)

How to make photo backdrop boards

How to use dishes in food photography

Props for photography

Rustic find and vintage props

PS  Thank you, Lisa.

You are amazing.

Truly.

You can find Lisa over at her blog, Celebrate Creativity, every day. If you get a minute, stop by and tell her hello.

Happy day friends. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Wow. So much talent. She has a gift.

  2. Awesome tips! And beautiful photos.

    Thanks for sharing Lisa’s talent with us.

    : )

  3. Donna Marie :

    Thanks for these helpful hints, as I am thinking of starting a blog!!!

  4. Ooo, pretty. I guess I’m lazy? Better get with it if I want to improve my photos. Heh. Hm, I think I’m going to pop over and read more. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This blog post was great…..and your comments as always were funny and amazing!
    Thanks and have a super great weekend!

  6. Rowena Philbeck :

    WOW beautiful pictures and great tips. I photograph my hand spun yarn and I do have some vintage items that would be cool in a picture with them. Great ideas…Thanks!!!!! Love the pictures too!!

  7. I subscribe to, and adore, both blogs, yours and Lisa’s! She always has the most incredible imagery…..and you make me smile, and laugh! Thanks to both of you!

  8. Thank you both!! I follow Lisa and may I say I wouldn’t miss her post or Miz KariAnne. You both are amazing with your photography and I do study them. The food shots are so appealing — I was busy studying the lighting and the placement of the props and food I couldn’t figure out why my tummy was growling. Obviously tummy was busy studying the delicious looking food. Thanks again and I’m going back to restudy the tips and techniques. Oh!! I am going to see if I can’t get a really good top to my tripod — you know one that has one of the ball jointy things that lets the camera go in all different angles. Have a great weekend. I’d better eat something so my tummy will let me concentrate on photo study. 🙂

  9. Excellent post. Thanks for introducing us to this blogger!

  10. A literal and helpful list. Thanks for sharing!

  11. very nice, karianne….thanks for sharing

  12. Thank you for bringing such a great artist to us. Great tips. I have an etsy shop and there always pushing to photograph items against an all white background. But I sell vintage. And it looks much better staged. I like to show buyers the items how they could use the items. I feel if I can spark an idea that appeals to them, I might get a sale. And I too drag all my items all over the house for the right light. Did you share what type of camera you use? Thank you both!
    Barbara Ann
    etsy.com / shop / barbaraannscreations

  13. Fabulous tips! I’ve been taking notes while reading this post. Wowee, I’m so glad you shared Lisa’s stunning photography with us today Kerri-Anne! As much as I find my tripod to be a pain in the (you know what) it has become my best photography friend because this coffee lov’n blogger shakes like a bobble head.

  14. Lisa is the master of food photography and any type of photography for that matter….Her photographs are truly works of art!

  15. Lovely ideas and “tricks”….what a spectacular post!

  16. Love these tips and they are so helpful! Thank you for introducing Lisa’s blog. I have subscribed!

  17. Such beautiful photography. I’m so hungry after looking at all of it!

  18. This.Is.Fantastic!!

  19. Fantastic post and tips! I will definitely use these ideas when I photograph my cakes. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Those were great. I have lost my mojo for blogging lately. This made me want to get my camera out and style up my milk glass collection and play with some different backgrounds. Thanks for sharing, Lisa and KariAnne!

    xoxo, Trina

  21. Karianne, I just love you and all your total aside notes…you always know how to make me laugh or smile or cry…Your guest blogger was pretty awesome, but It’s you I come to visit everyday…

    Blessing,
    Shelley

  22. I guess I have been taking the photos for granted, thanks to Lisa and your blog today, I’ll not be so cavalier. But Karianne, you’re no slouch either, I love reading and looking at everything you do. I too like the clock plate!

  23. I needed this! Thank you so much for sharing your friend and her talent with us Karianne! And, thank you Lisa, for the tips. I will begin using some of them immediately!
    Judypimperl.blogspot.com

  24. Rebecca Turner :

    Thank you so much for sharing these insider photography tips! I’m just getting interested in photography, and I can’t believe that you’re sharing this with us, because just this week I’ve been working on my own “Summertime Table.” I literally went back and forth between blogs, studying the details of the tables for the Mikasa giveaway, noting the particular perspectives of each picture. I couldn’t help noticing that your (first) shot included the most details (which in my book is a good thing, since I am detail oriented). For instance, I can see the shape of the table, as well as the head chair, and one side chair, along with your sideboard, and also your beautiful smocked drapes…and of course the dishes and details on the surface of the table. Nice job! Your pictures are truly the most appealing I’ve discovered because they are so crisp. Thanks again for sharing and for asking your friend to share, Karianne!

  25. Thank you for bringing us this wonderful talent!
    I cannot believe that Lisa doesn’t consider herself
    a professional…she.is.absolutely.amazing!!! I, too,
    enjoy all of your guest bloggers, but it’s you I come
    to see. You always make me laugh and smile. : )

  26. That was awesome! Thank you karianne for hosting Lisa! Her pictures are AMAZING!!!

  27. As always your little tidbits bring a smile to my face and heart and I too love those clock plates (did you find out where to get them)? Thank you for introducing me to Lisa’s blog; I truly a loyal follower will be. She is really gifted, I didn’t know where to look– the props, the food. Help my mouth is drooling over the berries and my tummy is saying go get some. Thanks Again

  28. Ugh, Lisa, you’re right! I should be using that fancy fixture that’s been sitting in the corner of my office – aka the tripod. Lovely ideas!

  29. Thank you so very much for sharing Lisa’s photography tips with us, KariAnne…they are truly amazing…I have taken note of each one and have bookmarked this page so I can return to this post for when I need a refresher, which will probably be quite often as my mind is like Swiss cheese at times…hehe! I only wish I could look at these gorgeous photos without suddenly craving something sweet and decadent…because, oh my goodness…YUM! 🙂

  30. As always a winner!! LOVE Lisa’s blog…….she truly has a eye for photography ……and as always Kari you make me smile and chuckle!

    Happy Saturday…

    Lois

  31. Wow! These tips are going to be a game-changer in my photos. So excited to start a collection of props! Thank you so much for having Lisa on!

  32. Thanks so much for featuring Lisa. Her tips are so great and helpful. So are yours, Karianne. My favorite: “Remember not to photograph yourself in the copper. Especially if you are having a bad hair day.” 🙂

  33. What lovely tips!! I love the one specifically about layering. It really does make the picture pop to have multiple layers. Also, I read your post about using a tripod months ago and it literally change my life!! haha. I have been using my tripod exclusively now. Thanks!
    -Shonee
    http://www.hawthorneandmain.com

  34. Fab. FAB. FABULOUS!!!!! Thank you!!

  35. These are such helpful tips. Photography is the part of blogging I struggle with the most, so thank you!

    http://www.emmabyers.com

  36. This is so great!!!! You should see pictures from when I started my blog 5 months ago!!!! They have come a long way but I still have TONS to learn and practice;-) All I have learned has been from posts like this!!!! Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!!!
    Food I am getting better at but projects and rooms… not so much;-)

  37. KariAnn,
    Thanks so much for having Lisa guest post and share all of these fabulous photography tips. While I don’t shoot much food, these tips can definitely be used for shootting home decor items too!
    I’m missing Haven this year so have fun for both of us!
    Shelly

  38. These are such wonderful tips! Thank you for sharing these with us!

  39. Wow, this was so great! I learned so much. THANK YOU!

  40. I am not a food blogger but I love to get all of the great pointers. I sometimes need a close shot of my crafty items. I really need to get a better camera though. Thanks so much for all of these tips. I learned a lot!!