Tag Archives: Delores Custer


I know in my last post I said I’d write next about food photo tips mentioned during the conference I recently attended, but I decided first to talk about trends, which is somewhat more fun and interesting. First I have a question though. Once a trend is identified does that mean it starts to no longer be a trend? Is it passé already at that point? Because if you think about it, it must have been seen all over the place for it to be identified as a trend and then maybe it’s not so cool any more. In any case, here are some of the trends in food photography identified by presenters at the conference, especially by Delores Custer, a food stylist, consultant and teacher who was a wonderfully informative presenter. She humorously referred to certain time periods as “the year of the edible flower” or “the year of the black plate.”

1. Casual, less controlled, not too perfect, more fun, doable. This theme was brought up again and again over the course of the weekend. Natural light is all the rage (yay!), less precise images (with crumbs, etc.) are favored over stuffy, pristine or ornately decorated scenes (yay, again!).

2. Inferred food. This is related to the first trend and was mentioned by the warm and witty Clare Ferguson. Have you noticed you frequently see photos where half a casserole is missing, a sandwich has a bite out of it, or a pie has some slices missing and the insides dripping out? The idea is that the food is irresistible and someone has already delved into it. It shows that this is real, edible food that people are enjoying, not something shellacked and unappetizing. Makes sense, no? Here’s my extreme take on that trend…can you tell what I had for lunch yesterday based on the remnants of the plate? Ok, so maybe that’s a little TOO inferred!

inferred food

3. Organic, sustainable food and styling. Mette Neilsen and Steph Culberson gave a passionate presentation on this very topic. They talked about ways to reduce waste, which is rampant in food photography. They emphasized that the way to get clients on board in doing things more sustainably is to show them how it will save them time and money. Suggestions included things like buying just the amount of food you need to shoot from your local grocery store if it’s available there instead of having your client send you those 100 boxes of frozen pizza. Or how about suggesting to your client that they garnish that chicken breast with local sage instead of strawberries in April when the only strawberries available are from thousands of miles away and are barely red on the inside?

4. Tight shots. Food that is shot just showing the subject matter. Again, makes sense to me. Shouldn’t we really be focusing on the food? (Not that I don’t enjoy lovely props now and then…)

5. Graphic shots. Often food is shot with primary regard for its shape and form. As I mentioned earlier, Pornchai Mittongtare does this beautifully. Here’s one of my more graphic shots.


6. No backgrounds or white backgrounds. White is big. Maybe this will be “the year of the white plate” or was that last year? Anyway, here’s a recent image of mine employing this trend (unintentionally!).

tuna nicoise

7. Stacking. Delores Custer says stacking is back in vogue. I definitely recall seeing lots of images of stacked cookies over the holidays last year. A stack of pancakes certainly makes sense. What other food stacks well I wonder? They’re can’t be that many, can there? Let me know if you think of some.

8. Salts and peppers. Fat and chocolate. Yum, yum. I know from my own ridiculous salt collection that this is a fact. Maybe I’ll take a photo of all the different salts currently in my cupboard as my next project. And I hereby make a note to myself to investigate fun pepper options. The new cookbook Fat was mentioned several times. It’s filled with wonderful photos by Leigh Beisch. And chocolate. What need I say about that?

And I should mention a trend that Christopher Hersheimer pointed out is over with, done ad nauseam…please, please just stop it already with the tight shots of hands holding food! Ok, we’ve all done it. It can be handy (har, har) when you have no other background to work with and hey, hands are interesting, but IT’S BEEN DONE. Get a new schtick, people. May I suggest one of the above items? Or better yet, come up with the NEXT big trend. Quick, before it’s called a trend.