So you want to be a stylist

I get asked all the time “how did you get into styling?” I try to answer all the email queries, but sometimes I’m just too busy! Many people are interested in making styling their career, but it is notoriously hard to break into. Hopefully this section will help you decide whether this is the career for you and what steps you have to take to become a food stylist. It’s not an easy career. This is a small specialised industry and you will need to be multi-skilled.

Food Skills

You will need to have a solid understanding of food. It is a good idea to have completed an apprenticeship in commercial cookery. (All my assistants are qualified chefs).

You will have a strong interest in food and love to cook all the time.

Recipe testing, editing and writing skills are important.

Visual Skills

You are working in a visual medium, so you need to have strong visual skills (I am a magazine and cook book addict).


It is important to have some pictures in your folio, so you can show your work. Find a food photographer (or final year photography student who is interested in food) and start taking some shots.


Get some work assisting a stylist or try to do some work experience at one of the food magazines.

Courses and books

I haven’t heard of any good courses here in Melbourne, but I know there are several short courses in the U.S. and the U.K. There are some very good books on food styling, so check out Book Depository or Amazon, if you can’t find anything in your local book shop or library.



9 Responses

  1. Dear Caroline,

    I am a 15 Year old student at Methodist Ladies College who is very keen to become a food stylist.
    I have achieved a second and third prize in cooking competitions that are held annually at my school.
    Your name was passed on to me by Samantha Douros who highly recommends you from your work on the Cookbook that was produced for Melbourne Grammar
    The dates that I require to do this are from the 12 – 15 June.
    I would feel honoured if I could work with you.
    Would you be able to assist me in this area?
    Warm regards,

    • Hi Nicolette
      I have also sent a reply to your Mum’s email address, so check with her. Work experience is fine, but I can’t guarantee that I will have work for the whole 4 days. If that is okay with your school, then we can proceed with all the paperwork.

  2. Hi Caroline,
    I’m very interested in breaking into the food styling industry. In your blog you note that you didn’t know of any good short courses in Melbourne, as this was written a while ago I was wondering if it has changed and you know of some courses? I have done my research but have only found a couple which I’m unsure about. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you, Jade.

    • Hi Jade
      I really haven’t heard of any courses that would benefit you. Your best bet is to start assisting a stylist, do a photography, cooking, visual merchandising course.

  3. Hi Caroline, I am always shooting food of some kind or running food photography workshops so if you want to pass on my details I would be happy to shoot portfolio samples in return for styling assistance. You can use Leanne Kitchen as a reference (Food Photography workshop – Thai module) or just check out my food samples on Facebook – cheers Michael J Connolly /

  4. Hello Caroline, I am starting my own health coaching business and website. I am seeking a food photographer/stylist for a day to help shoot and style a number of recipes for my new website. Can you suggest any students/assistants that could help? I only have a budget of $500. Thank you.

    • Hi Sophia
      Sorry for the late reply, as I haven’t checked my blog comments.Can you please send me your contact details if you’re still interested? You can send me an email on my website. I have someone who may be able to help you.

      • Hello Caroline, thank you so much for the response. Regrettably I have found someone to help out for my Winter spread. However, I will need more photo’s for Spring/Summer, so happy for you to pass on my contact details;
        0430 817 757

        Thank you

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