10/04/2017 10:31 AM AEST | Updated 10/04/2017 9:12 PM AEST

Stylist Tips On How To Present And Photograph Food Like A Pro

You don't need fancy props or lighting equipment.

It's true that we eat with our eyes, and it's why our obsession with #foodporn and all things food is so real. It's the colours, the textures, the lighting, the ingredients, the props, the finished dish and, of course, eating said delicious food.

So it's only natural that we share our culinary adventures on Instagram. Although a smart phone will do, to present, style and photograph your food like a pro requires more than a kitchen counter and shoddy indoor lighting.

To get the best styling and presentation skills, The Huffington Post Australia enlisted the expertise of The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney -- The Grounds head stylist and creative developer, Therese Moussa, and The Grounds Group executive chef, Paul McGrath.

"Beautiful presentation in everything we do at The Grounds is so essential," Moussa told HuffPost Australia.

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"We want to create amazing experiences for all of our guests, and a key part of that is creating visually stunning spaces to welcome our guests into. The beauty of our spaces encompasses all of the layers, including the architecture, interior design, furnishing, props, styling, and of course the food."

For McGrath, the way food is presented on a plate is just as important as the meal itself.

"Particularly with the way food is being shared at the moment on social media, beautiful plating techniques are just as important as the taste," McGrath said.

"We love using delicate florals that add another fresh and fragrant layer to our dishes, and designing beautiful plateware that the dishes look beautiful on."

Here are Moussa and McGrath's six tips for styling and presenting like a pro.


1. Don't over-complicate plating

When it comes to plating food, McGrath recommends keeping it simple and letting the food do the talking.

"It's safer to keep it simple. Try not to overthink what you're doing as it can look too cliché or cause confusion," McGrath told HuffPost Australia.

Instead, play around with different and unique tableware, which you can find at markets or on Etsy.

2. Use natural lighting

Do your photos always turn out blurry or grey? However beautiful the food or table is styled, lighting is absolutely crucial.

"Having poor lighting when taking your photos can really take away from all of the hard work that went into setting up and styling," Moussa said.

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"Use natural lighting as much as you can -- we capture so many of our photos outside in The Garden."

3. Think about colour

"As you're creating your dishes, think about colour. Choose ingredients with contrasting colours and different garnishes, such as delicate edible florals, that will make your dish stand out and add another fresh element," McGrath said.

4. Use food as props

You don't need fancy props or tableware to style a beautiful photo. Instead, take advantage of the fresh produce around you.

"When creating a food flatlay, one thing we love doing at The Grounds is enhancing the dish in the shot using wholesome produce found in the ingredients list of the recipe, and creating really abundant set ups," Moussa said.

"For example, a cluster of tomatoes, a handful of whole chillies or fresh berries look amazing scattered around the dish on the table."

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5. Create layers

While a minimalist flatlay is a great way to show off your food, Moussa recommends adding layers through height and everyday props and ingredients.

"You can also create layers by placing some produce on plateware, or adding a folded cloth napkin with cutlery placed over the top," Moussa said.

For something a bit more advanced, grazing tables look striking and give many more angles to photograph and work with.

"My three key tips to a beautiful grazing table are to create height on the table (tallest items at the back, or in the centre if the table is round), use inexpensive vintage props with a mix of materials (such as old timber and metal milk crates), and add colour and texture (get creative with produce, florals and decorations in colour harmony)."

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6. Play around and practise

For those with a penchant for food styling and photography, spend time experimenting with different lighting, props and techniques, and practise, practise, practise.

"Use your imagination and work with materials you love, and don't be scared to tweak things and play around with the setup until you're 100 percent happy," Moussa said.