The food does the talking

The food does the talking
Most people today have travelled the world. Even if they haven’t physically been to some places, thanks to technology, they are abreast of the culture and lifestyle there. This has brought the international experience closer home, especially when it comes to food, and more importantly, the way it is presented.

The popular saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is almost never true in terms of food. If it looks good, we jump to tasting it. So food stylists from around the City are experimenting with various lightings, props and composition to present the food as beautifully as they can so that it almost feels like you can taste the food by just looking at the pictures. Faseeulla, a food stylist and the co-founder of Slurrp Studio says, “People have lot more demands these days. If they don’t think the dish looks good, they don’t even want to try it. So as stylists, we use everything in our power to make them look their best so that the first test of the look is passed and then move on to the taste part of it.” He prefers to photograph his subject in such a way that the final outcome gives a rustic feel or a nature-imbibed look.

One of the most important aspects about food styling are the props. Few of them even have their favourites. Farrukh, a full-time food stylist, loves working with her wooden bowls that provide a rustic look and other crockeries that she purchased from Australia. “I’m someone who believes that you eat with your eyes first, and once the food comes in front of you, the smell will touch your palate before your tongue does. So it’s very important that one presents the dish in such a way that you’ll want to grab it from the screen itself,” she explains.

But is the trend moving in such a way that the presentation is more important than the final taste? To this, Ambica Selvam, another food stylist says, “There have been instances where clients ask me to add a particular element to the final picture through photoshop. They would ask in such a way that they know the food is bad, but in order to sell, you make it look good. But I don’t take up such work because it’s not fair on my part to deceive the customers. However, if everything is done right, the food will also taste as good as it looks,” She also says that Indian curries are one of the hardest to shoot as they are not as colourful as the other dishes.

 “As tasty as the curries might be, it’s very challenging to make them look good. So I try and play around with the props I have, use some of the ingredients around the subject, drizzle some oil on top of it and make sure the lighting is just right,” she adds. There are a few basic things one must keep in mind when styling the food, says Ambika. “Firstly, the stylist must understand what exactly the client is trying to communicate with the food presentation — show their personality through food. Secondly, they need to decide the frame in which it will be shot in — which plate, bowl or surface it will look best in. Then, find elements that will compliment the subject — use props like a cloth or the ingredients. And finally, make sure that the light, colour and composition is on par with the final product,” she adds. And if the stylist is not the one photographing the picture, he or she needs to make sure that they are in sync with each other.

So imagine you are a food stylist and while baking a cake during the shoot, you break an egg on the counter. Do you clean it up or does it add value to the shot? To this, food stylist Ashwin Iyer says, “I let the food do the talk. Every little element you find when you are messing around with the subject adds value to the shot. The whole idea is to present something magical without trying too hard.”

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry