Great Tasting Photos: Ingredients for Success

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Creating Modern, Rustic & French Bistro Styles

So far in my series of guides on food photography, we've talked about the basic gear you'll need for food photography and what to look for when you are shopping for photography props. In this guide, we'll break down a few popular styles of food photography so you emulate them in your own photos as you please.  

Below, I'll suggest backgrounds, textiles, dishes and details that add up to create the look you're seeking.  My own style tends to be pretty clean and simple, but you'll see how subtle influences can help create a mood that tends toward modern, rustic or classic French. 
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Modern style

Modern photos are usually clean and simple and let your dish shine. You can lend a modern look to your food photos starting with your background. Monochromatic colors, especially black or white, offer a clean background. I like to use a black chalkboard or an old, painted white tabletop with a light sheen to it.
Swoop bowl
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Swoop bowl

Stick with simple or sculptural dishes, especially those with Asian influences. Swoop bowls, for example, are simply designed but change in appearance depending on your camera angle.
Modern gold flatware
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Modern gold flatware

You can add visual interest by layering bowls or plates on one each other or incorporating some textured linens that are similar to the color of your background. When it comes to utensils, choose sleek, modern flatware or solid-colored  chopsticks when appropriate. Brushed  gold flatware looks great in this style. 
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Rustic style

Rustic photos are intentionally  more messy and casual than modern photos. Once you’ve built your scene, you can add visual interest by purposefully crumbling your food outside the plate or sprinkling your garnishes in the edges of the frame. You can also incorporate natural elements, like wood and leaves, like I did to the right.
Vinyl "wooden" background
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Vinyl "wooden" background

Wooden backgrounds are perfect for rustic scenes. I used a slice of a tree stump for the base of my apple cocktail, so get creative with it! You could use reclaimed wood or  vintage patterned baking sheets as the background for your photos. You can even buy fake wood backgrounds made out of vinyl, but I haven’t experimented with them yet. 
Kobenstyle enameled metal cookware
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Kobenstyle enameled metal cookware

Vintage dishes and silverware are perfect for the rustic look. Try enameled metal cookware used for camping, vintage silverware and crumpled, striped tea towels
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French bistro style

When I imagine a classic French bistro, I see marble countertops, white subway tiles and white table linens contrasting with black or silver hardware. Make sure your glasses are sparkling clean when you shoot his look, but don’t be afraid to mix and match vintage dishes for an authentic look.
Ikea tea towels
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Ikea tea towels

You can emulate the French bistro style easily if you start with a marble pastry board or a simple white linen tablecloth. Simple, striped tea towels look right at home here.
Small Picardie glasses
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Small Picardie glasses

Build the look with your vintage silverware paired with   scalloped porcelain dishes or basic white dishes. Then add classic French Picardie glasses or wine glasses. Bon appétit!

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