Styling for Food Photography with Chantelle Grady | Summer Food Photography Series Part Two

In continuing our discussion of food photography please welcome today Chantelle Grady the author of a wonderfully inspiring blog I recently discovered called Little Things, the online magazine Sourced Cities and a stylist.  Chantelle tells us a little more about herself and how she approaches styling.

1. How did you get your start in styling and where has it taken you since?

Initially I worked as an Art Director for a few fashion labels. In that role I would style products as well as talent shoots and found I really enjoyed it and loved seeing how everything came together. I also styled my wedding and realized my passion for putting things together and creating a setting. I’ve since worked for a number of magazines styling both lifestyle settings and food. And having always loved the photography side of things I’ve delved more into that combined with styling.

2. How did you come to start your blog and your magazine a little relish?

I was hesitant about starting a blog at first because I wasn’t sure what I would write about (like many no doubt!). But a few friends encouraged me to do so. At the time I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life and in a way the blog has helped guide me to where I am today. It has been a great platform to share projects with people, which in turn have lead to other work opportunities. Having the blog is also a great way to keep reference of everything I love and inspires me.

I started a little relish because of an obsession with magazines. I also worked for a number of magazines and really liked the planning and end result of all the hard work going into them. So one day I announced to co-workers that I would start my own. But anybody who has worked for one knows that it costs money and it’s a risky exercise. A good friend of mine suggested I make an online version to keep costs down and to see if people would like it. So I gave it a go.

A little relish was predominantly about food and has since evolved and rebranded into what is now called Sourced Cities which will launch very soon. Sourced Cities is about more than just food. It’s my personal encounter in different cities around the world. And through the guides I take the reader on a journey through the city, showcasing its unique style through photography and stories.

3. How did you develop your aesthetic and how would you define your style?

I’ve never really been sure that I have an aesthetic or what it is, but I’m told by people that I have one! I guess in everything I do I try to tell a story. I hope for people who view my work to feel something. I guess you could say my style is simple and rustic and hopefully not too contrived.

4. What inspires you and your work?
I’m inspired by other creative people and the work they produce. Music has always inspired me also.  I find I’m at my most creative when I’m really drawn into the music I’m listening to. I also find inspiration from everyday experiences and my upbringing.

5. How do you approach a styling project? Can you describe what you’re trying to capture?

With everything I do I first create a moodboard. I use references gathered online to visually create a look and feel of what I’m trying to achieve. As mentioned earlier, I like everything to tell a story.

I find it very hard to persevere with a project until the story feels right and is clear in my mind. And I guess what is I’m trying to capture is this story, be it a casual lunch with a couple good friends, or a warm roast dinner on a cool winter night.

6. Can you take us through your process from conceptualization to final image?

I first create a moodboard using references that tell the story. Then I write lists (I love lists!) of the things I need to source. I gather the pieces and elements needed to create the setting and will put things together to see what works. With food settings I cook most of what I style and also photograph it so time can be a little limited. It’s not uncommon to see me running from place to place to prepare food, set the scene, get the camera ready, check it on the computer until I have the shot as nice and as close to what I visualize as it can be. I then edit the images a certain way to achieve the desired affect.

7. Can you share some examples of favorite projects you’ve worked on in the past?

I did a piece for Real Living magazine in Australia which I really enjoyed. It was a casual pizza oven dinner in the backyard and how to transform an otherwise ordinary looking backyard into something stylish with a few plants, decorations and hints of colour.

Another is my most recent one – Sourced Cities. It’s the first project that I feel has utilized all my skills in creating and putting the guides together. I also love to travel and it was cool to see how others live in different cities.

8. How is styling for a food shoot different than other genres?

With food your time is limited. Food begins to wilt and with time doesn’t look as good from when it was first served. So you really need to be organized and thinking ahead. It helps to have your setting in place before the food is ready. I have my backgrounds and composition in place so all I need to do is place the food when it’s ready. When styling with products it’s a lot easier since the products don’t change. You can place them and take your time to get the shot right.

9. What are some of your favorite places to find props? Can you share with us some of your favorite finds?

Antique stores! I love them and every city has them. Using vintage elements in a shot can give it a really rustic and homely feel. I will often visit antique stores first before anywhere else to see what I can find. I have an ever-growing collection of what my husband calls ”junk” but is viewed in my eyes as treasures and the pieces that make a shot interesting.

I also like to visit recycled door and window yards. Weathered timber can look really good as a background and these yards carry a huge selection of not just doors and windows but slats of timber that they can cut back for you based on the size you need them to be.

Thrift stores are great also. You will find all sorts of random pieces at really cheap prices.

Otherwise looking in nice homewares stores you can find more modern pieces to mix with the old.

10. Do you have any tips or advice you could share with my readers?

I think it’s important to always consider opportunities that come along despite how scared you may be about them. When I first started out I didn’t really know what I was doing. But with practice and determination I figured them out and with time they became easier.

It’s also good to practice all that you can at home. Set a scene, be it food or an interior and move things around to see what works. Over time you will find it becomes second nature.
A passion for interior and food magazines is what led Chantelle to pursue work as a stylist and photographer and to start an online food and lifestyle magazine.  Chantelle blogs at Little Things where she shares all things she finds inspiring.  You can follow her on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter as well.

Be sure to read the full Summer Food Photography Series:

Finding Props for Food Photography with Naomi Robinson | Summer Food Photography Series Part One

Styling for Food Photography with Chantelle Grady | Summer Food Photography Series Part Two

Learning Your Camera and How to Shoot Moody Images with Peter Georgakopoulos | Summer Food Photography Series Part Three

Rules and Tips on Restaurant Photography with Brian Samuels | Summer Food Photography Series Part Four

Food Videography with Russell van Kraayenburg | Summer Food Photography Series Part Five

Q&A with Food Photographer Jim Scherer | Summer Food Photography Series Part Six


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  1. says

    Very very enlightening. I really like Chantelle’s style and work, and her story is truly inspirational for anybody who wants to get started in this filed. Thanks!

  2. says

    Loved the interview. It is always inspiring to read, to get to know what goes on in a “photographer’s mind”. 🙂 and how they do their amazing work.


  3. Catherine says

    Chantelle is an inspiration not only for her obvious visual talent but her absolute drive and determination. Hard work and practice, practice, practice. Its nice to see her hard work and talent come to fruition. Beautiful pics Chantelle and can’t wait for the first Sourced Cities. Cath 🙂

  4. says

    Not only did I like the pictures, the food looked like it was made well and the salad with avocado pulled me in. I studied every photo and agree that you are indeed talented in many many ways.

  5. says

    Sylvie, again, loving this series. Thanks for introducing me to Chantelle. Her work is so beautiful and I love the advice she gives. Thank you!

  6. says

    I didn’t know Chantelle so thank you for introducing her and her blog. I struggle a lot with food styling on top of photographing, so this post was very inspiring! I enjoyed browsing her work! Thanks Sylvie!

  7. says

    Beautiful and helpful post. Thanks a lot for sharing the knowledge with us.
    It made me chuckle when I read about Chantelle treasures which her husband terms as “junk”…LOL- I guess all food bloggers have a similar situation 🙂