By Jennifer Janz of A Fabulous Food Stylist & Co. and Founder of the Food Styling Institute
The question I hear most often is “How did you get into food styling?” followed by “How can I become a food stylist?”
My journey to becoming a food stylist was an interesting path. Most food stylists have great stories about their path to their career. Mine started in art school. I studied fine art, photography, painting, graphic design and art history. I knew art was my calling from a very young age. When I graduated college I was hired at an audiovisual firm that produced mega-multi-projector slide shows for conferences. I was involved in production and surrounded by both photography and graphic design. It was a fun job and I learned a lot. But then I got laid off. Next I decided the graphic design field was were I wanted to go. I got a job doing graphic design but after a year was completely burnt out from sitting at a computer 8 hours a day. Sitting around is something I don’t do well! At that point I decided that I wanted to become a photographer instead. After a photo safari in Africa, I fell completely in love with photography. I assisted photographers for a few years to learn the business and one day while on a food photo shoot I met a food stylist and watched her work on set. She was preparing a turkey and painting it with browning sauce. I watched in amazement. And I was sold! This seemed like the best job ever. So I then took as many classes and workshops as I could find and practiced a lot for about a year. I learned how to cook just about everything at this time too. And then I landed a long term project with Taste of Home Magazine. This lasted 12 years and I am thankful every day for that opportunity. I truly learned how to cook everything from doing magazine work and working from recipes. And I also worked with some of the best food stylists I know which was priceless for learning techniques, timing and organization.
Food stylists come into the field from many different backgrounds. Some spend many years as assistants learning on the job. Some have home economics or culinary degrees, some are chefs or photographers or have art degrees like myself. I think when you have a passion for food styling you will find a way to learn what is necessary to be one.
Whatever your background and work history is, to become a food stylist you will need to seek out food styling classes and workshops and learn as much as possible before you begin. When you enter the field you want to be 100% ready as this industry is built on reputations and word of mouth. I started the Food Styling Institute for this very reason. To help those seeking to become food stylists learn this most amazing fun profession. It has been my passion for 25 years! At the Food Styling Institute we offer online classes through membership as well as in depth courses like Food Styling Fundamentals which we will be starting again January 10th (super secret, we are running a special until midnight on January 8th for $150 off: coupon code: BONUS150) We are also working on certification programs as well as in person workshops. I love to teach and love sharing my knowledge.
Assisting food stylists is also an excellent way to learn. Becoming an assistant requires excellent culinary skills, the ability to follow directions, understanding how to grocery shop and how to choose the most photogenic food, a cool temperament and a “can do” attitude. I have an e-book called “How to be a Kick-Ass Food Styling Assistant” which goes over everything you need to know to become a great assistant. After years of working with and training assistants I decided to create a book that would help those trying to break into the assisting world. It can be difficult when you first start out without a proven track record. But a little time learning and investigating the field and knowing what a food stylist will expect from you will get you off to a good start. You could also start with asking to shadow a food stylist for a day or work as a second assistant doing dishes and clean up to start with.
Becoming a food stylist requires a lot of practice and learning but when you love to do something and it is your dream job like it has been mine you will be able to make it happen. A little confidence, mentoring and learning is the key to success.
Join me for a FREE Webinar on the Food Styling Industry where I will be discussing what types of jobs a food stylist does, what the pay is and what skills you need to have to get into the field.
Date: Thursday, January 5th at 8:30 p.m. CST.
You can sign up here to register: www.thefoodstylinginstitute.com/webinar
Questions? Feel free to email me at Jennifer@thefoodstylingschool.com