9 Food Styling Tips with Aran Goyoaga

AranThis weekend was a blast.  A lot of cookbook authors were in Beantown to celebrate the holidays and to share with us their wonderful creations.  Really, there were so many places we wanted to be, but we joined in on the event at Tatte bakery with Aran Goyoaga.  She’s a lovely blogger over at Cannelle et Vanille (cinnamon and vanilla in French) and this was such a treat because she was signing her magnificent book Small Plates and Sweet Treats, AND she did a food-styling demonstration.  Before we share with you what we learned, let us give you a little bit of Aran’s background and why her work is inspiring.

Aran was born and raised in the Basque Country, which is close to the border between Spain and France.  She grew up on a farm where many of her family members were pastry chefs.  After completing her college degree, she flew to the States to get married and took a leap of faith and enrolled in culinary school.  Fast forward several years, and after having her second child, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and autoimmune inner-ear disorder, which means that she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  Instead of viewing this circumstance negatively, Aran accepted this news with a sigh of relief because she knew that gluten was something tangible that she could eliminate from her life, which meant that all her symptoms could be fixed.  The thing is, if you take a look at her book you would never guess that it is catered towards gluten-free readers, and that’s the message that she wanted to get across.  Neither of us have any severe food allergies but we have a friend who has recently been diagnosed and we can’t wait to share this book with her, and encourage her that there is so much great food out there that she can continue to eat!

Now, onto the tips you were waiting for.  Some of you might already know most of the information below, but here are some advice for those who are just starting a blog or want to improve somehow and just haven’t been able to figure out what that change might need to be.  Here are some things we learned from Aran and what we’ve observed from our own experience:

1)  Lighting: So important.  Ever taken a picture with your iphone with a flash in a dark restaurant?  The food will look extremely flat and unappetizing. The best light to use for food photography is natural light, right before or after noon time.  The sun at noon is meant for tanning (with SPF smothered all over your exposed skin of course).
2)  Find your perfect space:  In order to have the best lighting, that means you have to find the best room as well.  That perfect space might be in your study or den, and not to worry because no one will ever find out that you aren’t in your kitchen!
3)  Select nice produce:  Those big red strawberries that you find in grocery stores are great for commercial photos, but if you want to have an organic natural feel to your look, then try to buy local produce or even select the imperfections.
4)  We love odd numbers:  The human eye is drawn to odd numbers so try to keep that in mind.  So try displaying three cookies rather than two, Five over four…you get the point.  We love cookies.
5)  Snap away while fresh:  Freshness will shine right through the photo so prepare your photography equipment before you start cooking or at least plan ahead.
6) Think about colors and texture:  Adding colors and texture to your dish will make it much more appetizing.  Aran uses a mandoline to garnish her dishes and it adds a delicate touch.
7) Be unique with props:  We all love Anthropologie and all their cute kitchenware, but try to find props that no one will recognize.  You don’t have to spend so much money either!  Be thrifty or go on Etsy and support all the amazing artists out there.  Or, just go with the simple white ceramics.
8) Find the camera that best suits you:  Find a camera that has a manual setting that allows you to have complete control over the look you want.  The automatic will not do all the work for you!  Also, it’s nice having a fancy camera and we all want a DSLR at some point, but always remember that it’s not the camera that takes the picture–it’s you!
9) Practice:  It takes a lot of practice to figure out your style but you will get there someday!  We still have lots and lots to learn.

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EatBoutique also happened this weekend and it was the cherry on top.  So many great food makers and we even got to chat to some lovely bloggers and authors including: our very own Boston resident Béa from La Tartine Gourmand, and Joy from Joy the Baker.  Have you bought any cookbooks yet?  ‘Tis the season!  Have a great week!
Ana sortun
beehive
joy collage
*The delicious goat milk caramels in the picture above are made by Big Picture Farm*

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