I spend anywhere from 3 to 6 days every month art directing photo shoots for work. If basic math serves me correctly that's about 72 days a year. Each day lasts around 10 hours, and that adds up to around 720 hours. Seven hundred twenty hours.
720 hours of standing around, fussing, getting splattered, primping and playing with food. 720 hours of lighting decisions, camera angles and correct cropping. And 720 hours spent with a food stylist.
I've written about food stylsts before
in my blog, hoping to shed some light on a fascinating yet under-appreciated skill in the food industry. Their jobs go unrecognized, yet their work is all you see. They make the foods and the drinks you see appealing, appetizing, delicious and, most importantly, sellable. They lug around the ubiquitous 4-ton tackle box that's ready to go at the drop of a hat. They have the patience of Job, the skill set of a chef, the ability to work under a ridiculously insane amount of pressure, satisfying every whim of the oftentimes fickle Art Director. They're the ones that make me
look good. And they do all this with a smile on their face.
(Well, most of the time they do.)
A good food stylist is a wonderful ally; a great food stylist is indispensable. The truly successful food stylists can command a pretty penny for their day rate, but when you break it down, it' s worth it. One bad move or lack of preparation on a stylist's part can be a headache as it only slows down the photographer and the shoot. And that is certainly no fun.
I've seen stylists create an elegant still life diorama out of ugly cheese, fashion a thirst-quenching margarita without ice, and prepare an thanksgiving meal in 20 minutes - thanks to their tools of the trade. No, I'm not saying it's slight of hand or an effort to fool the consumer, but it certainly is magic. And it's fascinating.
To my friends and food stylists, I thank you for making my world beautiful and delicious. I love you guys. Endless hugs and gratitude go to the amazing Beth of Food Fanatics for the best looking cocktail shots I could ever dream of. You are amazing!