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Food Styling Today

Trends happen in two main ways: they start at the top (a renowned chef features a new ingredient or a popular magazine highlights a certain dish) or at the bottom (bloggers and social media enthusiasts post about their new favorite kitchen gadget, and then it ends up in a high-end restaurant). An example of the latter is in food photography: Instagram and bloggers have upped the ante, forcing brands to take it more seriously and pushing magazines to find a new look and feel.

High Contrast Lighting

Diffused lighting has been the name of the game for a few years. Whether opting for a bright, airy feel or a dark, moody scene, photographers use diffusers and reflectors to soften the lighting. In order to stand out, we're seeing publishers opt for more harsh lighting. Check out Bon Appetit's Instagram Feed for a taste, which is marked with sharp shadows and highly saturated colors. (P.S. Have you seen the January edition of Martha Stewart Living? When the queen herself is doing it, you know it's legit.)

Adding Movement

Flixel and Boomerang have made creating animations and cinemagraphs easier than ever. Since everyone and their grandmas have camera phones now, animations no longer require hours of editing or training as a designer. Adding a bit of movement (like Kitchen Ghosts) makes images pop off the screen...sometimes literally.

Dirty Frame

A well-studied photographer knows the right foreground elements can make a big impact. You can go from boring to intimate with a blurred out foreground - sometimes called a "dirty frame." Fashion and travel photographers have long done this, and as food bloggers move into lifestyle content, we're seeing them apply it to breakfast, lunch and dinner shots. Champions of this include Oh Honey Bakes, The First Mess, and The Kitchen McCabe, to name a few.

What This Means for Brands

We recommend a strong, consistent look and feel (in a tl;dr world, a brand's visuals carry more weight than ever), but digital marketing lends itself to experimentation. Consider testing a few of these trends to see how they resonate, especially if Instagram is a priority for your brand.

Caitlin Sherwood

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