A food stylist helps invent and implement the tantalizing food photos we drool over on television, in newspapers and in magazines. Becoming a food stylist means balancing photography principles like composition, color and creative angles with a perishable subject — food. By taking too much time to set up a shot, ice cream can melt, avocados can brown and salads can wilt.
If you’ve ever flipped through the food section of a magazine and marveled over the photographs, or if you’ve found yourself snapping pictures of your dinner plate at a restaurant, you have the basic curiosity of a food stylist. But before you start sending shots to Food + Wine, read on to see if you have what it takes to become a food stylist.
A food stylist sets up images of food for restaurants, magazines, hotels, bars and tourism companies. Some food stylists are also photographers, while others strictly set up the shots for others to take. Good food photography involves a thorough knowledge of photography principles; creating the right shot involves building a still life out of freshly prepared dishes straight from the kitchen. To do this, a food stylist must understand the physics of food, including how temperature and other ingredients affect it, to create their edible masterpieces
Many food stylists work directly with advertising agencies and photographers; others work independently as freelancers with magazines, hospitality organizations and restaurants. Food stylists with specialized training, certificates or degrees in culinary arts or photography will fare far better than their counterparts in competitive job markets. Many food stylists begin their career as photography interns for magazines; others take culinary classes and segue into photography
Food stylist salaries vary widely depending on the location they work. Freelance food stylists can earn $300 to $850 a day, according to WKYT, while the few salaried food stylists that exist earn between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. AOL notes that junior food stylists typically earn around $150 per day.