A Chat with Food Stylist Molly Shuster

A few weeks ago, food stylist Molly Shuster and I spent an afternoon together working on a test shoot.  We had a blast, playing around with a variety of burgers and sandwiches.  Watching Molly build these dishes, I was struck by how much thought went into each one.  It then occurred to me that it’d be fun to have Molly talk a bit about what it’s like to be a food stylist and give us a little insight into the craft.

To see more of Molly’s work, take a look at her portfolio.

Cheeseburger with Avocado - Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster

Cheeseburger with Avocado – Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster

These two burgers obviously have a very different feel.  What was your goal in creating these two different looks?

I think at it’s best, what we do is inspire people to cook and get in the kitchen. I always love getting people to think about food and their relationship to it. So whenever I work on something I always think, what makes this beautiful? What about this is delicious? Sometimes you go into a shot and have a clear idea in your head of what something will be or what it will look like. Other times it’s something that has to be found…sometimes that’s easier than others!

As for the different feel of each burger, sometimes it’s nice for things to be clean and structured and classic, other times it’s nice to be loose and messy and a bit more familiar. And this often depends on the type of shoot you’re doing…whether it be editorial, ad or commercial- they’ll be certain objectives for each shoot and that often dictates the direction the food takes.

Perfectly Grilled Burger - Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster

Perfectly Grilled Burger – Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster

What is your working relationship like with photographers?  Do you find it to be a collaborative process or does it vary from project to project?

Yes, absolutely, it’s always a collaboration. Of course, that’s one of the interesting things about this job- the team is never the same! You’re always working with different photographers, crews and clients, and everyone has their own style and method. So it definitely varies shoot to shoot.

But that’s also one of the great things about this job. You meet so many lovely, talented and creative people.

Any other fun tips/tricks/suggestions you want to throw out to food bloggers or aspiring stylists?

I’d say keep at it! Keep cooking. Keep writing. Follow your favorite food magazines and cookbook authors. Always seek out new foods and flavors. Cook the food that inspires you. Always be willing to try something new.

And if you’re interested in styling- assist! There is no better way to gain experience than working for established stylists. I have learned so much and have a huge amount of respect for all of the women I’ve worked for. They’ve all taught me a tremendous amount and I feel hugely indebted to them.

Caprese Sandwich with Heirloom Tomatoes - Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster

Caprese Sandwich with Heirloom Tomatoes – Photographer: Brian Samuels, Styling: Molly Shuster


  • April 11, 2013 - 7:20 am

    Joanne - What a super awesome experience Brian! And gorgeous photos as usual!ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 7:44 am

    Master Chefette - Wow! Those photos look fantastic! I always aspire to take good pics of what I bake but they’re nowhere near that lol! :-)ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 8:15 am

    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl - I have always been so impressed and intrigued with food stylists! Thanks for sharing this interview. I also want to dive head first into that tomato mozz sandwich!ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 3:15 pm

    Liren - What a fantastic collaboration, Brian, and excellent insight! How I wish I could have a stylist to work with everyday in my own kitchen 😉ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    mr. & Mrs. P - Beautiful Photos… Great experience we are sure!!ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 6:43 pm

    naomi - Gorgeously, executed on the styling and photo!Great interview, Brian.ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2013 - 11:15 pm

    Kristen - So interesting to think about all the details this way. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2013 - 1:58 am
  • April 12, 2013 - 7:51 am

    TidyMom - I would love to assist with a food stylist! Great pics!!ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2013 - 9:37 am

    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective - A feast for the eyes…ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2013 - 1:07 pm
  • April 12, 2013 - 2:47 pm

    Kendra - Hi there –

    I have a quick question about your blog – could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks you and have a great weekend!


  • April 12, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    Sasha - Food styling is so endlessly fascinating! I can’t imagine how much fun it must be to do it for a living.ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2013 - 4:34 pm

    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking - Wow, what a fun opportunity to peek into the world of a food stylist! Thanks for sharing, Brian and Molly. Wonderful photos. They look good enough to eat! 😀ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2013 - 12:58 am

    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com - Great collaboration, Brian! And thanks for introducing Molly to us :)ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2013 - 12:41 pm

    Marla Meridith - Such great energy Molly! Brian, thanks for sharing her talents with us ~ very inspiring :)ReplyCancel

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