How to serve up some moody foodie images that will make anyone's mouth water!

The art of food styling mouth-watering images is a whole gastronomic journey in itself. It is one thing for the food to taste good, but to convey this in a visual sense requires more than a touch of artistry. This talent for inviting the viewer to feast with their eyes is an art form well practiced by Christall Lowe from The Style Tales. Join us as Christall shares some behind the scenes tips into her food styling as she takes us on culinary journey through some of her creations. Prepare to drool on some foodie goodness and feast on some of her secrets!

The moody foodie shot…

I think mood and food definitely go hand in hand. Food evokes certain feelings within all of us and Christall knows how to capture this sentiment in her images. The following moody foodie shot is no exception. The steam from the freshly stewed fruit for these pies just makes your mouth water for those finished treats. As Christall explains, this was an accidental discovery and really shows that you can find beauty in the most simplest of steps…and to always have your camera ready as you create [and cook!].

The beauty of steam in food styling. Source:  @christall.lowe

The beauty of steam in food styling. Source: @christall.lowe

The before and after image as shot by Christall

The before and after image as shot by Christall

How Christall brought this image to life

This was actually an unintentional situation that I quickly shot when I saw all the steam. I really do love natural in-situ shots the most, and this was definitely one of those times. I was making four apple and boysenberry pies for a tablescape shoot and had just stewed the fruit and poured it into the pie dishes. This was just on my old bench in the kitchen, and the sunlight shining through the window  really caught the steam particles and I had to run and grab my camera to capture it!

The setup:

  • No tripod, just hand held.

  • Canon 6D Mark II camera, 100mm macro lens, ISO 250, Aperture f/3.2, Shutter Speed 1/500

  • Natural backlight (crucial for steam/smoke)

  • Edited in Lightroom - cooled down the temp as current kitchen walls are very cream coloured, reduced blacks, upped whites and highlights, upped clarity and texture. 


Serving up a foodie flatlay

A foodie flatlay comes in all styles but I must say Christall’s are deliciously good! This bird’s eye view below is so realistic [and so cleverly styled] it makes you just want to pull up that chair, sit down and have some muesli, no matter the time of day! The spoon already placed in the muesli suggests you might have already helped yourself…enyoy!

Christall sure knows how to serve up breakfast. Source:  @christall.lowe

Christall sure knows how to serve up breakfast. Source: @christall.lowe

The before and after image as shot by Christall

The before and after image as shot by Christall

How Christall brought this image to life…

This was part of a series shot for Ceres Organics of their new muesli range. This was set up on my dining room table, but this surface is actually the side of an old weathered dresser that is now my favourite backdrop! I placed the chair coming out to create depth and also a sense of place. Foliage in the foreground which is blurred out to create more depth, and the rule of triangles (see the other blog post) for dish placement with the other ingredients. Special trick used was not actually adding the milk until the last minute - so I took many shots without the milk there to get the composition and settings right. Then I added the milk but only around the muesli and a little in the apricots - or the muesli would just go mushy - not a good look. This was set up next to my dining room window at the top of the shot (note direction of shadows).

The setup:

  • No tripod, hand held while I was standing on the table!

  • Canon 6D Mark II camera, 50mm f1.4 lens, ISO 400, Aperture f/1.8, Shutter Speed 1/500

  • Natural top light.

  • Edited in Lightroom - cooled down the temp, note background is now very grey brown, lifted shadows and whites, upped clarity, upped the vibrance slightly, selectively upped the saturation of oranges and greens, and cooled the green tones down. 


The foodie action shot

Adding hands to our foodie shot adds a human element. They give a sense of realism and storytelling for these are perhaps the hands that have lovingly prepared what we are figuratively digesting with our eyes. Adding the motion of pouring as Christall has done in this following image further exemplifies this storytelling…and you just want a piece of cake!

A deliciously good pour. Source:  @christall.lowe

A deliciously good pour. Source: @christall.lowe

The before and after image as shot by Christall

The before and after image as shot by Christall

How Christall brought this image to life

This was a carrot and orange cake with an orange maple drizzle. This was also set up on my dining room table beside my large window at the right. I used a marble look backdrop on the table for contrast and flowers and foliage in the background to firstly hide the mess on my kitchen bench (!!!) and to create depth.

The setup:

  • Tripod, with camera connected to my iphone used as a remote to take photos with one hand, while one hand held the jug!

  • Canon 6D Mark II camera, 50mm f1.4 lens, ISO 200, Aperture f/1.4, Shutter Speed 1/640 (to capture the drizzle nicely)

  • Natural side light.

  • Edited in Lightroom - cooled down the temp, lifted highlights and whites, reduced shadows and blacks slightly. Upped clarity, selectively upped the saturation of purple and green, and cooled the green tones down. Played with the S curve to create a more moody matte look. 


Thank you to Christall for sharing some of your foodie and editing secrets, and of course the original photos with us. Christall is our guest mentor for our July foodie challenge #cs_styledandserved running from 1-7 July 2019. To see more of Christall’s delicious photography you can follow her on Instagram @christall.lowe.