Nikita Singh, a food stylist and writer, shares her thoughts about food styling and what it takes to be successful in the industry.
How did you find success in food styling, which is such a niche field?
I was extremely fortunate to have a good mentor. An incredibly talented food stylist, Bianca Delides, allowed me to assist her on a few big commercial shoots. I gained invaluable experience, skills, and confidence. I’ll always be grateful for her kindness and insight.
What are the skills you think a food stylist should have?
- Patience. On set, there’s a lot of waiting. First, you wait for the photographer to set up lighting then, after the shot, you wait for approval from the client (who’s often approving remotely).
- Attention to detail. You need to see the little things that other people don’t see – Is the plate clean? Is there an oil smudge? Are the greens starting to wilt? Do they need a spritz?
What are some food styling basics?
- When dealing with frozen goods like sorbet, make your perfect scoop and freeze it. It’s impossible to work with if you don’t pre-freeze.
- Always cook pasta at the last minute. Pasta that’s been standing too long can get dry or stodgy.
- Need to assemble a perfectly stacked sandwich or burger? Use skewers.
- Use glycerine and water in a spray bottle to get perfect dew-like droplets.
Where do you source for props and what are your most invaluable styling tools and aids?
I love sourcing for props at Hospice and charity shops. You’ll find unique pieces like spoons, glassware, and platters at affordable prices. It’s also great for fabric and napkins, especially if you need just one of each colour. For more everyday pieces, Mr Price Home is always a safe bet.
I always carry a full styling kit, but the most helpful tools I can’t do without are gourmet tweezers and my paintbrush. It’s helpful to keep a few paintbrushes to either dust off some crumbs from a surface, or to add a little dab of oil to meat for a juicy shine. Oh and a good knife! Having a good, sharp knife makes a world of difference.
Are there any food styling books, blogs, guides, or stylists you’ve found inspirational and helpful?
There’s an amazing YouTube channel called The Bite Shot which is helpful for food stylists and food photographers. Photographer Joanie Simon gives honest and practical advice on everything from affordable backdrops to getting the perfect cheese pull.
Find Nikita at https://nikitasinghstylist.wordpress.com/