Style and Substance
After many conversations with professionals in the food sector it became ever clearer to us the need to introduce a category for Food Stylists in our awards.
We are delighted that for 2019 we are making this idea reality and are so excited to see the entries for this category come in.
We decided to catch up with Food Stylist Laura Field. Laura had great success in the #PinkLadySnaps on Instagram and then went on to be a photography finalist in the Marks & Spencer British Food Adventures category in 2018 with her image 'Shell Full of Summer' seen below.
Welcome to the blog Laura, thanks for joining us!
We’d love to hear a little more about your background and how you got into the Food Stylist genre?
After doing an art foundation course, I studied photography at University. Having graduated I found that there was not a clear path to being a photographer.
I rather impulsively signed up for a Cordon Bleu intensive cooking diploma (at Tante Marie), as I did a ski season when I was 18 and rather enjoyed the cooking. I needed a back up plan to the photography. After doing the diploma I was instantly employable as a chef/cook.
I worked in many random places in the 7 years of being a cook, including a private rehab on an island in Essex, cooking 3 course meals on steam trains, weddings for catering companies, ski chalets, home economist for food festivals as well as working in Greece and France as a private chef, all of which gave me a lot of experience, and I felt like I could cook anywhere, for anyone.
In the middle of cooking I volunteered to be an expedition photographer for Raleigh International (a charity for young volunteers to work side by side with communities improving living conditions or environmental work). This took me to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for five months and rekindled my love of photography and for the first time in a professional capacity.
On returning, I continued my cooking jobs, and working at food festivals when I heard about food styling.
As soon as I heard about food styling, I volunteered to work for the Jamie Oliver Company and they kindly let me help out for a few days. There I met and worked with some key influencers in the industry, namely David Loftus, the world-renowned food photographer. Subsequently he put me forward to food style on the next few MasterChef cookbooks; I owe much to David, as that’s where it all started. A whole new world opened up before me.
I love to be able to food style and photograph today, my two favourite subjects closely intertwined.
What would you say are the key ingredients for success for being a food stylist?
Firstly, to be able to cook/bake/BBQ absolutely everything, then on top of that being able to work closely to timings, as the photographer needs food to be presented on a fairly regular basis, as shoot days can be really tight with the number of shots needed in a day. There isn’t that much room for error. Secondly, the ability to make the food look incredible, whether that means cooking things at slightly different lengths then normal or holding back seasoning so you don’t loose the colour on some foods etc. Lastly to be able to tell a story within the food as you are creating a scene with the help of the prop stylist and photographer. You all work together to create a scene so the viewer can imagine they are in that position about to eat that food.
What’s a standard working day like for you?
I don’t really have a standard day being freelance but when working on a project or a book then they are much more routine. You would normally have ordered all the food before a shoot and then as soon as you get in the studio start prepping the dishes. You normally discuss what order that you want to shoot the dishes in and then work towards that. A lot of dishes can be taken to a certain point and held and then fisnished off when it’s time to shoot them. I like to have nearly all the dishes backed up ready to go so the photographer and team aren’t waiting around. Then expect to titivate the food for up to 15/20 mins while the photographer takes the photographs.
What tips would you give to our younger audience considering being a food stylist as a career?
Learn to cook, whether you work for a catering company/restaurant or do a cooking course and then volunteer to work for food stylist and practise your own style at home.
Which fellow food stylists do you love following on Instagram?
Georgina Hayden, Andrey Tulsky, _foodstories_, Eva Kosmas Flores.
Any exciting projects/collaborations you have recently been working on?
I was the food stylist for Sabrina Ghayour’s last book Feasts, as well as my own work for Tenderstem and Rude Health.
To connect with Laura visit:
- Premiering Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Tenth Year – The Royal Photographic Society January 12, 2021
- Life Changing Inspiration January 11, 2021
- Sharp Shots! Tips and Tricks for Young Photographers January 7, 2021