Food styling with flowers

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Do you gasp in awe every time you see artfully styled pictures of food with flowers in other food photographers’ work, but it just doesn’t work when you’re trying to recreate something similarly beautiful?

Do you love the idea of seeing gentle florals in your still-life art, but you have no idea how to navigate your composition decisions?

Is it confusing for you to choose the right kind of flowers to pair with food, so you can enhance your storytelling?

Since you’re reading this article (thank you!), you’re flirting with the idea of implementing the trend of styling food with flowers into your work.

Hooray, this article is for you and I pinky promise you, I’ll share my top 9 food stylist’s tips for creating breathtaking setups of food, combined with etherical flowers.

Flowers in food photography

Featuring flowers in your work will add deeper meaning, magnetic elements, and additional layers of emotions to your work.

Combining food with flowers in your still-life photography also takes the observer by the hand and offers the imagination to flourish (pun intended 😊).

Of course, flowers can be a part of the dish or a drink, but their magic is really in evolving the storytelling around the dish and the best features of the delicious food you are portraying. Just imagine a delicate and fragrant Vanilla Strawberry layer cake, decorated with romantic pink roses and tulips.

You immediately want your observers to become a part of this cake story and bake it ASAP!

Top 3 reasons to add flowers into food photography

1. Food photography is all about igniting desires, waking the sens, es and observer’s imagination.

Fresh florals are inviting us to imagine the fragrance, energy, and emotions, portrayed in the scene. Flowers help you communicate the story and a vision with the gentle power of symbolism, connected to the types and colors of petals.

Adding gentle petals will help you with evoking emotions and communicate the overall mood of the frame.

2. Adding a layer of interest, and complimenting textures and emotional elements is always my top priority while creating magnetic styling. Flowers are here to ‘dress up’ your picture for the dance of imagination and provoking emotions.

3. Flowers are great for creating depth of space in the photograph and adding some room for the observer’s imagination by arranging flowers outside the frame of the photo.

Why do I love styling with flowers so much?

Flowers, oh, flowers!

They’re just like a piece of candy that brightens your day, relaxes your eyes, and wakes up your nostrils. Blooming flowers are therapy for the soul:)

Doesn’t your heart skip a beat while arranging a bouquet made of fresh-cut flowers? Or by watering a bush of wild roses on a warm summer evening?

The presence of flowers is often connected with romanticizing life, female energy, and nostalgia.

If you hold unexplainable love for flowers in your heart, you’ll try to use their seductive power in your upcoming photo shootings.

From my early days of food photography, I tried t incorporate my favorite flowers into the frame.

I like to emphasize femininity, the beauty of the wildernesses in nature, and divine sensuality

Including more than just one aspect of nature is one of the biggest components of my signature styling and food photography.

My approach to styling food with flowers is taken from my own experiences. I’m personally using flowers in real recipes and also in creating the mood for my outdoor styling.

Visual storytelling with flowers

Just like with any other picture, the creative process starts with the story in your head and stories are meant to be shared. I’d like to borrow the wise words of my friend Bea Lubas, speaking about the message in your storytelling:

‘It’s something you want your audience to know about the recipe, ingredients, or the process of making the dish as soon as they look at the photograph. The story is also the emotions and associations you want to evoke about the dish or the scene.’

Bea lubaus

Since the flowers aren’t usually the edible part of the dish, they’ll fall into the category of elements that bring forward the emotional half of the storytelling.

Since the flowers aren’t usually the edible part of the dish, they’ll fall into the category of elements that bring forward the emotional half of the storytelling.

  • Sensuality
  • Romantic love
  • Tranquility
  • Playfulness
  • Nurturing

Best 9 tips for food styling with flowers

My mission is to share my trustworthy techniques and tricks, so you can achieve an effortless and practical implementation plan.

Are you ready to beautify your photographer’s work and take your pictures to a new aesthetic dimension? Ok, let’s go!

1. Protecting the food by waxing the stems

When working with flowers, we must first know whether we want the dish to be still usable for eating. In the latter case, cut the flowers to the desired length and protect the stems with wax.
Melt the wax and dip the stalks into the hot wax. When the wax hardens, our flower is ready for decoration.

2. How to attach flowers on food?

For easier attachment of flowers to elements in your dish, I recommend you use a toothpick or sewing pins. Gently and carefully push the toothpick through the center of the stem.

Make sure the toothpick is long enough. If you’re also using the waxing tip,
I suggest you pierce the stem before you dip it in hot wax.

3. Using flowers in styling as a decoration

When you’re using flowers in your setup only as decoration, I encourage you to be a bit bolder and use stronger colors and species. I always lean on this principle when I’m styling cakes, cupcakes, and food connected with sweet celebrating.

Remember, flowers are a majestic visual element that elevates the dish and evokes emotions, connected with symbolism in flowers.

4. Pick wildflowers for dramatic effect

There is something special in the ethical power of wildflowers.
Freshly picked from the blooming meadow, it adds mystery and reminds us of the raw beauty of the nature.

I recommend you choose flowers that look more “wild”.
I’m talking about those which can’t be bought in a supermarket and used for a homemade bouquet.
Seek charming petals in nature, that bring lots of rustic vibes and dramatic character to your styling.

However, I advise you to avoid using flowers that are known to be poisonous, e.g. oleander or hydrangea. Check the resources section of this blog post in which I linked the webiste where you can check if your chosen petals are safe to eat.

5. Adding edible flowers in food styling

If the flowers are used as an edible component of your dish, we must choose flowers that are safe to eat. I love incorporating edible petals in salads and soups, especially in the warmer half of the year. Before using them, gently rinse the flowers under cold water and dry them on a paper towel.

6. Picking the right size of petals

Depending on the dish itself, we determine the size of the flowers. If you have a larger cake, it is okay to be bolder. Go on, choose larger flowers, and compliment them with smaller delicate petals.

When you’re styling a smaller food item, like cupcakes, make sure you pick smaller flowers. It’s important to keep this in mind so the petals don’t draw attention away from the hero subject of your photo.

Even in soups and salads, the size of the individual ingredients and the ceramics in which these dishes are served play a role.

For example, You’re styling the soup in small cups, so picking a medium-sized flower would cover almost the entire surface of the soup, which is missing the main point of styling food.

Picking the size of petals in food styling is highly dependent on your taste and also on the type of food photography you’re representing with your work (minimal, abundant, geometrical, documentary,…).

7. Dried flowers for romantic storytelling

Dried flowers are fantastic companions for styling desserts and drinks. They help you to achieve a nostalgic and mysterious rustic mood. I love using them, especially in the winter season, when there are not enough fresh flowers available. I recommend you dry some fresh flowers from your summer garden and style them with them in the winter. So precious!

8. Style your dishes with blooming herbs

Blooming herbs are a very organic and aromatic choice for styling savory dishes.

Here are some of my favorites: gentle thyme, refreshing rosemary, romantic lavender, fragrant oregano, elegant dill, and classy chives.

9. How to identify a flower you love from a picture

Do you even scroll through your Instagram or Pinterest feed and your heart skips a blooming beat when you set your eyes on breathtaking, charming flowers, but you have no idea what’s their name? Do you want to incorporate these in your next bouquet and your next beautifully styled photo shoot?

I have a great trick for you that I use regularly. Just like magic, it will recognize the type of flower for you, so you’ll know exactly what to buy from your florist. Check the link in the resource section of this blog post.

Useful resources for styling with flowers

  • Finding the name of flowers: click this link and upload a picture with a flower you admired.
  • Check if flowers are edible: click here to get the list of the most common edible flowers.
  • Quote by Bea Lubaus: Lubaus B. (2020). How to Photograph food. Running press Philadelphia. (page 68)

I hope you just leared something new and useful while reading my best approachable and practical styling tips. I bet all this new knowledge will spice up your signature style with charisma, feminine energy, and desire.

Just in time for this upcoming season, right!?

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