Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Q and A: Defining Food Styling Roles

Q from Virginia Matano, Food Styling 101 Student

I'm confused.... Could please tell me the difference between PROP STYLIST, TABLETOP STYLIST, FOOD DESIGNER, HOME ECONOMIST, and finally FOOD STYLIST!? In my mind I thought that the food stylist was all these things....

A from Debbie Wahl, Food Stylist and Food Styling 101 Instructor

Hello Virginia, That is an excellent question! Those terms are often used and can be confusing so I will try to explain:

Food stylist - (definition from Wikipedia):
"The role of the food stylist is to make the food look attractive in the finished photograph. The main difference between how a home cook or chef may present food and what a stylist does is the time and effort a stylist takes to carefully and artfully arrange the food. Also required is the visual know how, and ability to translate the perception of taste, aroma and appeal that one gets from an actual dish, to a two-dimensional photograph.

"Food stylists have culinary training; some are professional chefs or have a background in home economics.[4] In addition to knowledge of nutrition and cooking techniques, food stylists must also be resourceful shoppers.[4] As creative professionals, they envision the finished photograph and style the food accordingly."

Home Economist--when I first began food styling, most major food corporations required that the food stylist be a "home economist." The term "home economist" indicates that the person has a 4 year university degree in foods or home economics. Here is a link that explains it more:

Being a home economist is no longer necessary for food styling.

Prop stylist -- the role of a prop stylist is to procure the non-food items needed for a photo shoot--this can range from purchasing/renting plates, flatware, glasses, napkins to getting furniture for a room or building shoot. If they do wardrobe styling (clothing), then they use the term "wardrobe" stylist.

A tabletop stylist is more limited to getting non-food props that are going to be seen as part of a tabletop shoot. It can also indicate procuring and arranging any item shot on a tabletop surface such as cosmetics, wines, dishware, etc.

Some prop/tabletop stylists also style food so they advertise themselves using all those terms.

Food designer--I am not sure I have heard the use of this term but I would guess that it is the same as a food stylist.

If you google "prop stylists" or "tabletop stylists" -- you will see many examples of these stylists' work.

I used to do prop styling for tabletop as part of my food styling job but now I am so busy with simply doing the food styling that I ask the photographer or client to hire a separate prop stylist.

Hope this helps! Debbie

Debbie teaches our introductory course in food Styling, Food Styling 101, and is a professional food stylist. Her new website can be viewed at www.debbiewahl.com.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Two Reviews of "Basics Fashion Design 08: Styling"

Book Review 1
y Brittany Esposito
“Basics Fashion Design 08: Styling,” by Jacqueline McAssey and Clare Buckley offers an effective mix of stylists’ biographies, professional images, and practical advice about how to produce a photo shoot and break into the industry. I really enjoyed reading the different stories and flipping back and forth through all the images. “Basics Fashion Design 08: Styling” is a visually stimulating book. Its design has inspired my creative work as a student and a professional in a tremendous way. This book is not only inspirational but also a tool for styling knowledge.
I learned that a stylist has a lot of responsibilities including choosing the look and clothing for a fashion image, communicating the fashion idea, trend, or theme, and being able to advertise a fashion product. This book outlines what it means to style for a catalog or advertisement (commercial styling) or a magazine (editorial styling), and what types of skills these different fields require. Styling proves that even on a limited budget, with tremendous imagination and drive it is possible to create beautiful and relevant work. This book is a comprehensive guide to the rapidly developing discipline of styling. The shoot process is broken down step-by-step to demonstrate the preparation and editing of clothing, the shoot day itself and the post-production process.
Overall, I truly enjoyed how personal and inspirational this book is. I think it’s the perfect guide to begin a styling career and I would recommend it to any student or young professional looking to get into styling.

Book Review 2
by Denise Muñoz
            The authors cover a large amount of information by summarizing each theme down to a few pages each. What I enjoyed most about the book was the array of pictures of styling in different arenas. At the end of the book, the reader is presented with interviews of different fashion bloggers. The authors also share interviews with stylists.
One of the interviews that resonated with me was the one given by Siobhan Lyons. In the interview Siobhan describes how she moved up in her career and it is evident that a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience were needed before she was able to reach her position in her profession. She describes the relationship between a designer and a stylist as having to think like them, like “becoming their second brain.” This is a recipe for a successful partnership.
Another interesting insight was the fact that styling involves so much more than pulling clothes and actual “styling.” At the end of the day a stylist is a business person and will spend many hours writing emails, estimating budgets, creating spreadsheets, calling all of the people involved in a project, and even doing odd jobs that were never imagined would fit the job description. She also points out that things rarely go as planned and as frustrating as it may be for a stylist, he or she must be able to keep on going and be creative with any situation that presents itself.
In summary, I found the book to be a pleasant read and useful for any person interested in or pursuing a fashion career. The reader must be aware that it only provides a very brief overview of the themes and subjects mentioned. If someone is looking for detailed information on the subject or “how to be” a stylist type of book, this is not the right one. I feel that it only provides an introduction into the profession. Nevertheless, it has insightful interviews, beautiful images, and good information.
Brittany Esposito and Denise Muñoz were both students in my 2012 Fashion Photo Styling class at San Diego Mesa College's Fashion Department. Thanks to both for their contributions. Susan