6 tips to improve your food styling & photography

I started taking pictures of my food (and other people’s ??) well before I started a blog, and even before Instagram was a thing. Obviously, the obsession’s only gotten worse since then.

So trust me when I say, I understand how difficult it can be to make food look beautiful. Making things tasty is quite a challenge in itself, but making it look good is even harder.

But, whether you’re an avid food blogger yourself, or a teeny-tiny bit addicted to Instagram, sometimes, making home-cooked dishes look supermodel-perfect in front of the camera does matter.

If you’re not sure where to start, below are a few easy tips* to up your food styling & photography game (and achieve that drool-worthy shot every time!)

1. Get inspired

When you’re eating out, flicking through your favourite food mag or reading your favourite food blogs, take note of what looks appealing and what doesn’t.

Salted Caramel Brownies | Cake + Whisky

As for any form of art, there’s a lot you can pick up from looking at and analysing other people’s work.

Angles,composition, props… there’s so much going into a beautiful food pictures and finding what makes you hungry is the first step to being able to create that feeling in your own pictures.

I like to save my favourite pictures onto a Pinterest board so I can refer to it for inspiration or for times I struggle to put things together.

2. Tell the story of the dish through its picture

As the proverb goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, which is why you should try to let the picture express as much as possible about the dish it features.

Food Styling Tips

An easy way to do that is to feature some of the ingredients in their whole, pre-cooked shape in the picture.

Autumnal Hazelnut Torte recipe | Cake + Whisky

Another way to go about it is to include elements that inspired the recipe, the way food stylist Mademoiselle Poirot did, including cobnuts, autumn leaves and even garden scissors in the styling of this autumnal hazelnut torte at an event I recently attended.

Food Styling Tips

No matter what you go for, make sure you keep your props, colors, and serving sizes consistent with the atmosphere the dish is meant to evoke, and that you get a few ‘in progress’ shots as well as they’re often more inviting than the final set.

3. Favour natural light

There’s nothing better than natural light when it comes to food photography.

Quinoa Fried Rice

Now, I know that can be a little bit tricky at times (looking at you, night-at-4-PM-November!), but it truly is worth it. Ideally, you want the light to come from a large-ish window, from the side of your frame.

It’s best to take a few test shots around your flat/house until you find the best spot for you to settle in for ultimate results!

4. Let’s get messy!

Pouring, dripping, overflowing… sometimes, a little mess is all you need to take your picture to the next delicious level!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes | Cake + Whisky

Melting ice cream, crumbled up cookies, pancakes dripping with syrup… in many cases, a bit of a mess communicates movement, dynamism, and the pleasure of eating.

So if it makes you hungry, get messy (just keep in mind you’ll also be the one cleaning it up later though!)

5. Use a tripod

Angle, composition, movement, and possibly a bit of pouring action on the side… food photography is serious work and more often than not, two hands are simply not enough.

Curried Cauliflower Salad | Cake + Whisky

A tripod is an unexpensive piece of equipment (I payed about £30 for mine) that’s well worth investing in as it will make your job much easier!

6.  An extra set of hands (or several) is always good

Even with a tripod, I find it much easier to control the outcome if I’m not trying to balance everything up all by myself.

Food styling tips

Whether it’s to sprinkle icing sugar on top of your latest GBBO-worthy masterpiece or to help you polish it all off post-photography, an extra steady pair of hands, fresh eyes and tastebuds are the very best tool you could have on your food styling & photography set!

*This article & tips were inspired by an event I recently attended with Curry’s and Neff but wasn’t in any way sponsored and all words, pictures and opinion my own.

6 tips to improve your food styling & photography

5 tips to plan a city break

This year, my holidays have been very city break oriented.

No big trip to exotic destinations for me, but many (long) weekend getaways to closer, yet just as exciting/interesting/beautiful destinations.

And to be honest, I rather like it that way. Not having to spend hours in a plane means my legs don’t get swollen, and having less days to plan for makes it both easier and much less stressful.

Or does it? The only issue with short city breaks is that, well, they’re short, and giving that old  Fear Of Missing Out friend many opportunities to take over.

Is it really the ultimate way to make the most of my time there? Should we visit this or that? Could we really not do both? Is having 5 meals a day the only way to try it all? …You know how it goes!

But I have a few tried, tested & approved tricks to use when you plan a city break to keep FOMO and travel stress at bay.

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

1. Do your research:

Now, I know this one might seem obvious, but researching your destination will save you tonnes of time (no more pondering your options every morning or wondering what to do next!) & ultimately allow you to pack more into each day.

If it’s your first time in a city, you might want to include some of the ‘obvious’ sights in your itinerary. I find Google & the city’s tourism board website to be the most useful source of information as they’ll give you the full must-see run down.

For additional research (especially for lesser known sights or food recommendations), I usually run a few Pinterest searches. Not only is it an especially attractive search engine for visual people like me, but it’s also a fantastic way to easily find detailed reviews of local places that might not be on the map of the big industry players. Oh, and you can also save all your research right there (I tend to create a secret board that I share with my travel companions), and even get a rough map of each pin’s location, which is really quite handy as well.

2. Plan ahead:

Once you’ve done your research, it’s important to sort through the (hopefully many) ideas to optimise your (limited) time.

My strategy consists of putting all my potential ideas onto a Google Map, and then group them by location according to which ones are close together to limit transport time.

I then use my absolute favourite travel app, Sygic Travel, to create custom itineraries for each day of the city break.

This app truly is a technology god-send: it tells you roughly how long to schedule for each visit, optimises the order of the different things you pin to reduce travelling time, keeps all useful information (including opening hours, ticket prices…) in one place and provides you with an OFFLINE ACCESSIBLE map and directions to go form one sight to the next.

Absolute Travel Grail as far as I’m concerned (as long as you manage to keep your phone charged, that is!)

Evelyn's Cafe Bar, Manchester | Cake + Whisky

Evelyn’s Café, Manchester

3. Be flexible:

No matter how ready you are, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, things just don’t work out the way they should.

Sometimes the weather’s just not playing along with your master plan. Sometimes, the queues are so long they’ll ruin your chances to see anything else that day should you decide to go ahead with your original plan.

And it’s okay. It’s life.

Just make sure you know which sights you absolutely want to see (and if possible, book them ahead as it’ll save you from having to queue up for tickets), and which ones you won’t regret missing out on.

If some visits are strongly weather related, it might also be worth considering switching things up a bit even if it under-optimises your plans a touch.

Worse come to worse, just look for a nice café/restaurant/coffee house nearby and make new plans for the day over a glass/plate/cup of something nice. Or simply explore the little streets nearby. Some of my best travel memories came with spending hours getting lost in such places.

Last but not least, don’t over-plan and try to pack too much in one day/weekend. There’s no point doing things just for the sake of ticking them off your bucket list if you’re too tired to enjoy them. Please take that advice from the girl you one thought it was a good idea to go to the Louvres and the Invalides museum on the same day (it wasn’t).

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

New York

4. Location, location, location:

Accommodation is cheaper when you’re away from the city centre. True. But that also mean you’ll spend a lot more time and money in transport.

And when time is limited, that’s a trade off that’s not really worth it.

5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

5. Pack light:

Leave all the ‘just in case’ items behind. You and I both know you’re going to be wearing the same things all the time anyway.

Having to register a suitcase will cost you both time and money (not even mentioning the lost/broken luggage-related stress).

Plus the more you carry, the least room you’ll have to bring awesome souvenirs back home!!

What’s your top tip to plan a city break? Any brilliant resource I need to have on my radar? Any part you especially struggle with?


5 brilliant tips to plan a city break | Cake + Whisky

5 tips to plan a city break