Develop your unique style in food photography

When we scroll through our instagram feed, there are certain photos in which we immediately recognise the author. Do you sometimes wish your pictures could be identified as yours too? A certain style can make photos recognisable and unique. I get that you want that for yourself. You might also want to have clients seek you out because they want the style that only you can provide. But how do you develop your own style? What makes a style unique?

There is no single answer to this question. In photography many small things done right make for the bigger picture. A coherence in style could be related to the motive, the mood, the use of light and shadows, the colors, a certain angle or a specific editing style - or a combination of any of those. 

Shoot shoot shoot

If there was one thing you could do now, in less than 5 minutes, so easy you don’t even have to get up from your chair and your neurons could do their well earned siesta, well that would be a dream and while we’re at it, maybe someone could even drop a few (seedless) grapes into your mouth… but of course developing your style in real life has much to do with shooting a lot. 

I’d dare to say that with time, it emerges on its own. For me, I feel that’s how it has happened. I actually realized that I had my own style only when people repeatedly told me they’d always recognize my photos as mine (and maybe just to keep that warm and pleasant feeling I didn’t ask if their feed was mainly wedding photography or animals or pictures of their friends).

Still, there are a few things you can do to hone in on your style, to gain some clarity on what attracts you - and to creatively grow as a side effect. 

Style is a process

To find and evolve your style, it doesn’t matter if you shoot with your phone, an entry-level dslr or mirrorless or a professional camera. It’s not that important if you’re just starting out or if you’ve been shooting for a while, but still feel that you’ve not really found your thing stylewise.

All of us have moments in which we either feel we don’t have a style, don’t know how to describe it or even dislike it. It helps to be aware that all artists experience these moments, no matter the stage of their career. It’s important to understand and enjoy the process. Moments of tension usually precede creative growth.

Style isn’t stagnant and fixed either. It will always be evolving (hopefully) as you improve your technique, gain experience and are influenced by different artists as well as putting into practice your own ideas.

Dive deep: your why

I can't think about food photography separately from my deep love for ingredients, for choosing them, preparing them carefully and enjoying the result alone or in good company. With my images I want to draw our attention to the mundane beauty of the colors, shapes and textures of food, and the quotidian gestures of preparing it. I want to capture every detail to immerse us in the sensuality of food, to perceive it with all of our senses. I want to evoke memories and move something inside the viewer.  

Personally I find great satisfaction creating a dish, being present in every gesture it takes and putting all my care into it - to then share it with people I love. Buying quality ingredients in bulk, locally and that are in season, store them in cloth and glass jars, feel their texture and listen to the sound they make when pouring them into the jar, rinse, peel, chop, whisk, simmer, bake, garnish, set the table with ceramics that are pleasant to touch and look at, provide me with joy.

It moves me deeply when another person prepares food for me this way. And cooking an eating are not just everyday activities that I want us to enjoy and care for more, they are part of the stories of our lives, our relationships and our cultures. I want to tell these stories.

That's my why in food photography - would you think it influences my style? Thinking about why we do what we do, why it motivates us, what do we want to share with the world and the impact we want to cause, are essential in developing our particular style. 

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