photo Marina Oliphant

I have been working as a food stylist since 2000. I work in advertising, packaging, publishing, editorial and television commercials.I write and test recipes for various clients and publications. I also do general props styling.

Initially, I trained as a home economist at RMIT. I also have a qualification in hospitality studies from William Angliss Institute.

Check out my latest news to see what I have been working on recently; it might include some great recipes and beautiful images, seasonal ingredients and hot tips.

If you would like to contact me, you will find my contact details on the site.

Many people ask me about being a food stylist. I have added this interview below, as part of a television program called ‘Can we help?’ which may answer some questions you have.

What is a food-stylist?

A food stylist’s job is to make food look appealing, appetizing and natural. You must have a good knowledge of food preparation and food chemistry, in addition to a strong sense of visual design. Styling for photography is meticulous, precise work that requires patience. It is mentally and physically demanding and involves hours of intense concentration. You need to understand how different foods will react under lights. You need a flexible and creative approach to problem solving. Depending on the area of food styling that interests you, you will need a comprehensive understanding of different cuisines from different countries.

How much of what we see in the shoots should we believe?

Lots of food shoots for magazines and recipe books is absolutely real. This can also apply to certain foods in television commercials. However, sometimes, for the food to appear to its best advantage, we may need to give it a little help, especially under strong lighting.

What are the tools/tricks of the trade?  (I love the special sprays and marbles in soup… these are the things we’d like to show and tell)

Every good stylist will have his or her own special tricks and secrets. Some of these come about as creative problem solving to specific situations for a given product on a particular shoot. Some of it is simply good common sense.

I can show you my toolbox. It is full of some useful and some odd bits and pieces.

What’s been the trickiest thing you’ve had to do?

Oh dear! There have been a few difficult things. Once I had to do a large piped flaming bombe Alaska that had to be carried down a flight of stairs whilst the actor was delivering some lines. We only had 5 back ups. In the end, they decided that he couldn’t walk, talk and carry the flaming dessert all at the same time.

I once had to unmould a giant red nose jelly cake at the zoo. That was a bit scary as there was no back up cake and everyone was watching me. It was also windy. I had a moment where I wondered what on earth I thought I was doing!

On one shoot, I spent all day twirling some noodles around a fork that was suspended in mid air on an angle; the noodles kept falling off the fork. That was fun.

Where do you find all your props and food?

I have various favourite haunts around Melbourne. I have quite a collection of old bits and pieces. Last year I picked up some more lovely things in a flea market in Paris!

When and why do you use fake food?

The only time that I use fake food is when I need a scoop of icecream in the background of a shot, and I don’t want it to look too melted. However, if I was doing an icecream shoot, I would only use the real product.

How long does it take to make the simple look fabulous?

For packaging work, it can take all day to produce 3 -4 high quality images. For magazine shoots, you might be able to get through 8 shots per day.

What’s involved in working with film crews/photographers to make sure you get the best results?

I take a very collaborative approach, as it is a team effort. Everyone has his or her area of expertise, from the producer, the D.O.P, the director, the 1st A.D, and all the crew, my assistants, in addition to the creative people from the advertising agency and importantly, the client, who knows the product well.

I find it takes lots of patience and a willingness to do things over and over again, even when you think you couldn’t possibly do another take! You need to take criticism and feedback well. A sense of humour can help ease the pressure.

It helps to be highly organized on large shoots, with allowances made for every contingency.

Fortunately, I am very calm under pressure


2 Responses

  1. I’m dropping by because one or more photographs from this blog has been previously featured in the weekly Food Fetish Friday series on my blog. In order to continue featuring your photos as part of Food Fetish Fridays, I will need your authorization. Please read my recent post regarding this subject and email me with any questions: http://cookinwluv.blogspot.com/2012/09/wheres-food-fetish-friday.html Thanks so much and I hope to continue to feature your photos…

    • HI
      I need to send this info to Marina Oliphant, as she is the photographer and owns copyright.

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