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.
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.
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.