A behind the scenes look at monthly creative food styling techniques. How to style heirloom tomatoes into a seasonal Instagram panorama.
I’m changing things up with the way I use Instagram for a lot of reasons, but mainly so I am able to focus on creativity, food styling techniques, and fresh ideas.
It’s time to get back to basics.
Each month, as a personal creative exercise, and as a way to test out some new food styling ideas, I’ll be producing a three panel Instagram panorama. As an addition, there will be a written step by step how to guide here on my site.
For the month of September my thought process began with considering seasonal ingredients. September is the end of summer, and also the end of bountiful summer produce. I wanted to honor the ingredients by working with colorful heirloom tomatoes.
Different sized and colored tomatoes were the perfect base for this exercise. I knew I wanted to layer slices and then cut out the letters using an X-acto knife, so I purchased fairly firm tomatoes in order to get a sturdy foundation.
Creative Food Styling Technique
I had never cut letters out of any food before, so I thought a simple block text would be the easiest to work with. After an online search for something that would work, I printed out the word SEPTEMBER as a guide.
Next I worked out my preferred arrangement of tomato slices. Once complete, I laid the text template over the tomatoes and went about cutting out each letter.
Tip: If you need to keep your ingredients in place, secure them using Polygrip
In the process of cutting out the letters I ran into a couple of snafu’s where the tomatoes were too soft. To remedy the issue, I cut letters from a couple of extra firm slices I had on the side.
Food styling is all about on the fly problem solving!
Once all the letters were cut out, I needed to ramp up the composition. Keeping the elements of design in mind (line, shape, space, value, texture and color) I began building out the rest of the frame.
When in doubt, always use large and small elements, and consider complimentary colors.
Throughout the entire process I was shooting test photos while tethered to my computer so I could see what each panel of the panorama would look like. It was important that each of the three Instagram frames had their own thoughtful composition as well as the image as a whole.
The final step was finishing touches! I cleaned up the letters with a Q-tip, and made sure to remove any rogue tomato seeds and other smudges.
Make sure to head over to my Instagram to see the image in full panoramic effect!