Salads can be one of the most difficult food items to style and photograph when you’re new to food photography. It takes a lot of careful layering and styling to make a salad look purposeful yet approachable all at the same time. While we don’t want food to look too perfect, there is a lot of thought that goes into making a salad look beautiful and less like a jumble of ingredients in a bowl. Here are some of my top tips for crafting a beautiful, vibrant salad image.
Don’t make the salad the way you make a regular salad.
Salads that we eat are often just a bunch of ingredients tossed in a bowl. Salads that we photograph are very purposefully layered and sculpted. I always start with all of my ingredients laid out separately and then individually place each on my serving dish until the salad is done. I take extra care to make sure that you can really see each of the ingredients in the salad and that they look fresh and appealing. If you’re tossing any ingredients with dressing or oil, toss them and then move them onto a new bowl so there isn’t excess oil or debris on the plate.
Keep your greens as fresh as possible.
If I’m shooting a salad I always lay out my props, my background, and figure out my camera angles and lighting before I even make the salad. Salads wilt fast, so you want to be ready to take the shot as quickly as possible once it’s ready! The salad is always the last thing on the scene before I press the shutter.
Look at your color wheel for choosing props and ingredients.
Sometimes we have creative control to the point of even being able to select the ingredients in the salad, and other times we are following a client recipe and only have control over the ancillary colors in the scene. Regardless, I always think through my color story and take care to select a scheme that works harmoniously and sends the right message. It’s a good idea to research color theory so you can approach all of your images with a firm grasp on color.
Think about layering texture.
A simple salad of greens can be stunning and visually interesting if styled correctly, but sometimes a salad might need a crumble of cheese, some crunchy rustic croutons, or toasted almonds to give it dimension. If you have control over the ingredients added to the salad, think about what you can add to give additional visual appeal.
If you’ve made it to the end here, thanks for reading! Do you have a favorite salad styling tip? Let me know in the comments!