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Prop/Food Styling Photography Trends :: Instagram as a Stylist/Photographer’s Tool

2014-05-14_15-55-25 My styling for Picture Perfect Parties

As most of you know, I have been in the styling photography world for 25 years (that makes me a dinosaur). I worked in the industry when the word “stylist” was unknown; there were not many of us, and we worked in the dark (literally and figuratively). It was way before social media followed our every move. I love social media, and as you know, I am obsessed with Instagram.

I love it because I feel so much more in touch with trends, and the trends are much more immediate as people are inspired by each other within moments of seeing each other’s work. After all, trying to learn the latest “looks” when you’re stylist is part of the job. Instagram is a fantastic stylist tool.

Styling trends were not a thing many years ago. Everyone operated in their own creative bubble. Plus servicing clients and their visual needs was first and foremost. A stylist needed to be able to be super versatile, and implement many styles since clients all wanted different looks.

My theory is Gourmet Magazine started the “dark still life” trend. They introduced this ground breaking imagery right before they shuttered in 2009. I remember thinking that the dark and messy stylized imagery was amazing, and so different from all the other food magazines in print at the time.


hummus090810_560 shots from Gourmet Magazine  the start of the dark and messy trend in styling and photography (2009)

Then Australian Photographer/Stylist Katie Quinn Davies, “What Katie Ate,” took dark and messy to the next level and was mimicked by nearly everyone, including me, over the past 3 years.



RECIPE-DAY-2-1 Katie Quinn Davies

Here are a few more current photographs of food from some of the photographer/stylists I follow on Instagram:

13974775761_ea587bf198_z Beth Kirby

EDOC4534 Aran Goyoaga

79ideas_kinfolk_stylish_dinner_beth_kirby_details  Gentl & Hyers

I love the deliberate mess stylists are calling “wabi sabi.” It’s one of my favorite things, and I have been a devotee since I bought this book ten years ago; the practice of “perfect imperfection.”

I talk a lot about these art direction techniques in my workshops. It’s all part of the big picture when shooting a photographic collection for cookbooks or magazines or ad campaigns.

I am always learning and am always embracing the “new” trends in food styling and photography. Instagram is a great way to see what’s going on in the styling and photography world instantly. If you’re an aspiring food/prop stylist or photographer, use Instagram as a tool; it’s fun and exciting.

spread My styling for Atlanta Magazine

If you’re interested in hearing more, come join us at one of our food/prop photography workshops; we’d love to see you. xx

Photograph by Gentl & Hyers, Beth Kirby, Aran Goyoaga Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn 


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