Important Things To Create When Styling Soup:
- Depth. You want to create a food styling soup photo by creating depth. More often than not a soup photo can appear one dimensional and flat. By adding extra elements you can convert a dull and boring photo into an amazing photo.
- Movement. When you add movement to the photo it makes it so much more interesting. You feel you just want to dive in and start making that bowl of soup! It draws your eye to the hero shot.
- Colour. Some soups can look dull so liven it up with extra colour to make it look more interesting!
- Texture. This is especially important with smooth soups. You need some form of texture to bring it to the next level. With chunky soups it’s not as important but you need to make those chunks visible in an appetising way!
How can you create the above? Well it’s a lot more simple than you realise! If you follow the following food styling tips on how to style soup then you are well on your way to creating the perfect soup image!
My Food Styling Tips & Techniques For Creating The Perfect Soup Image
- Make your soup and leave it to chill in the fridge. It is much easier to style cold soup than warm or soup and it lasts for hours.
- Fill the bowl to almost the top. Make sure the bowl looks full as it draws the viewers eye to the soup and not just the bowl. You want to see enough of the bowl to frame the shot but not to take over the photo. Tip: If you don’t have enough soup then add a smaller sized bowl upside down in the soup bowl to fill the space to use less soup. This makes the soup bowl look full and prevents your garnishes from sinking. Note: Make sure it is not visible above the top line of the soup.
- Make a design to imply movement using coconut cream. If you use normal cream it will disappear into the soup within seconds. Coconut cream is thicker so will last longer. The following photo shoot lasted over an hour using cold soup and coconut cream!
- Use complimentary coloured garnishes. These will highlight the food even better and make the soup pop! A green soup is a green soup but with pancetta on top it becomes so much more!
- Add raw ingredients to the top of the soup. These are my favourite garnishes as they keep the soup looking fresh in the final image. In the pea soup photoshoot the soup image is brought to another level by adding some fresh raw peas to the top. Good raw ingredients include pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh greens like watercress and mint, fresh chilli, beansprouts etc.
- Add cooked ingredients to the top of your soup. If you don’t have raw ingredients then some cooked ingredients work too. Good cooked ingredients include, seafood especially unpeeled prawns and mussels in their shells, pasta in a chunky soup, meat like chorizo and chicken, toasted bread with melted cheese, croutons etc.
Simple Steps of Styling a Soup Scene
- Set up your background. Choose your bowls and props.
- Place the bowls first on the backdrop followed by the non perishable props. Take a test shot.
- Fill the bowls with cold soup.
- Place some coconut cream in a piping bag with a small plain nozzle.
- Pipe swirls in circular movements.
- Using a toothpick break the swirls to form a subtle pattern.
- Top with raw or cooked ingredients.
- Set up some form of fake steam behind the bowls if required (see below for tips on steam).
- Add the perishable props to your scene.
- Take the hero shots.
- Edit your photos by increasing contrast and clarity, adjusting colour and light and increasing shadows.
As I mentioned before, it is much easier to style and photograph soup by using cold soup. There’s only one problem. If you want to create an image that shows the soup is piping hot then you need to add steam. Here are a few of my favourite ways for adding steam. Note: Make sure everything is plated and your camera is ready on your tripod as you need to act fast!
- Incense sticks. These are my favourite way of adding steam because they can be cut down to size. Simply cut it to a size slightly smaller than the bowl then attach it to blue tack behind the bowl, light it then blow it out to produce smoke.
- Candles. Small night lights work well if placed behind the bowl. Just light the candle then blow it out.
- Cotton balls dipped in boiling water and placed in a dish then microwaved. You can reheat them over and over again in the microwave.
- Use a dark background. Steam is much easier to produce with a darker contrasting background.
- Use side light. Whether you use artificial or natural light it is easier to photograph with side light. Back light can still pick it up but it softens the steamy look.
- A steamer. You can use a handheld steamer by directing the steam where you want. However it can cause humidity which can be picked up in your image.
- Post production. You can add steam in post production but be careful not to make it look too fake.
Best Props For A Soup Photoshoot
- Rustic matt bowls. These avoid harsh reflections and give the soup a homely comforting feel. After all when we eat soup it gives us that warm comforting feeling.
- A wooden or lightly textured background. These add a homely feel to the image allowing the viewers to imagine the soup on their kitchen or dining room table. It makes the image become more of a reality.
- Raw ingredients. Use raw ingredients that are used in the recipe. Don’t put an ingredient in the frame just because it will look good. This will confuse viewers and visitors looking for that perfect soup recipe.
- Linens. These often give a nice texture to the photo and add to your food story. Make sure the linens complement the soup colours. Avoid patterns unless the soup is very simple and plain with minimal garnishes.
- Antique or rustic cutlery. These add another exciting element to your story perhaps suggesting it is an old family recipe.
- Real people. There’s nothing better than adding a human element to your story. If you have a group of friends ask them to pose for you or simply use your timer or remote and photograph your hands in the frame.
If you enjoyed this blog post then check out more tips and tricks in the coming weeks. Read my posts on how to make cheap photography wooden food photography backdrops and perfecting the autumn flat lay to help you with your food photography journey.