Ready, steady, style!

Ever wondered why the food in your favourite recipe book looks so moreish and perfectly poised?

There are many tricks to plating up the perfect dish and we were lucky enough to discover what goes on behind the camera with well-known cook and foodie writer, Georgina Hayden.

Georgina has a wealth of experience and worked for Jamie Oliver’s food team for 12 years. She is also a chef ambassador for Maple from Canada UK – one of Liquid’s largest foodie clients.

Back to basics

Less is more when it comes to food styling. The frame shouldn’t be cluttered with unnecessary props or ingredients. Does the slice of lemon or piece of cutlery enhance the image? If the answer is no – remove it. You shouldn’t use props just for the sake of it. If you are using a lemon or lime in the frame, squeeze it slightly so it looks used. This will help the image look more authentic.

Weird but wonderful

It’s essential to have the perfect kit when styling a dish. The beginners kit should have a pair of tweezers for placement, a small pot of olive oil and paint brushes to add sheen (to meat or chocolate), pipettes, cotton buds, straws and plenty of kitchen roll.

Some of these may seem bizarre but if you’re plating up a burger, always add the sauce last. A pipette is perfect for his. All components of the dish should be visible – from the bun, to the beef patty, salad, tomato, onions and sauce. Build your burger with a cocktail stick to allow for this and build with a slight tilt.

Beware of Pac-Man!

If you photograph a cake and plan to cut a slice out of it, you will have created your very own Pac-Man. This isn’t a good look for a stylish cookbook. If you cannot avoid this, cut another slice. This will make the dish look less staged and more natural.

Smaller is better

It is much easier to style a smaller dish. If you’re styling a soup, make sure you pick a small bowl. By having a smaller dish to style, you will be making your life much easier as there is less space to style and perfect.

Tip: if a dish you have styled looks too perfect, don’t be afraid to get creative. Sometimes moving one truffle slightly to the left can make all the difference. Stay away from perfect circular dishes and make the most of negative space.

Angles are everything

Is it an overhead shot, ¾ or side-on shot? This will of course depend on the dish. A burger or sandwich should be side-on or a ¾ shot, whereas a curry or pilaf dish will make a lovely overhead shot. Make sure you go through your recipes before the shoot to determine the best angles. This will not only save time; it will also produce better results.

Tip: create a mood board beforehand of dishes that inspire you. This will help you decide the best angle. Remember – it might be that some dishes suit more than one!

Other top tips include:

– Brown your turkey using marmite and washing up liquid.

– Cotton buds can help sweep away unwanted drips.

– Make sauces and glazes thicker than usual.

– Try frying your rosemary or sage for a decorative touch.

There is much more to food styling than meets the eye, so next time you’re plating up a dish at home or photographing your food, remember these hacks for a perfect shot!

Chloe Baker, senior account manager