Finally, I’m back with the next post on the subject of food photography. I thought it’d be interesting to talk about what happens in the kitchen, some of the more unusual pieces of equipment, and odd things I’ve seen used by food stylists, including Poligrip. What’s in a food stylist’s kit? Here’s a look at one stylist’s set of tools:
And here is a different stylist, and how they get set up in the kitchen:
You can see that both of these people are very neat and organized! When you realize that unlike us photographers, the stylist is always working on location and likely to work in a different studio from one day to the next, it’s good to be ready to go with whatever you need.
Each stylist has their own way to do things, but there are a few tools we keep here in the studio for them which I like. First is this hand-held steamer. We cover the nozzle to reduce the steam flow and hold back any sputtering. It’s great for gently softening a slice of cheese on a burger, for example, because it gives a warm and moist heat, without blowing or scorching. You can get this from Amazon or places like Target, in the cleaning department. They tell me this is for cleaning bathtubs.
Here’s another gadget, this time from Williams Sonoma and similar suppliers. It’s a tiny chef’s torch, super useful for adding bits of browning to edges of things like toast, bacon, and tops of crème brûlée of course. This is a much different effect than the steam above.
So finally I’ll mention some of the odd things I’ve seen used. Can you guess what they’re used for? Polygrip, Corn Husker’s Lotion, Bag Balm, Armor All, Wildroot Cream Oil, Vaseline. Then there’s an amazing product called Zap-a-Gap (made by the Super Glue people). It can stick greasy or wet things together, and fill gaps at the same time. And finally, for now, there are stylist’s staples like Kitchen Bouquet and Karo Syrup.
For those of you who want the real encyclopedic “last word” Bible of food styling, you’ll want to take a look at Delores Custer’s book called Food Styling. She’s the master, and having this book is a must for those who are emerging food stylists, as well as for a lot of us photographers!