Food stylist Keri Henry (who styled this month’s LOCAL cover) grew up in Houston, attending West U Elementary, Pershing Middle and graduating from Second Baptist High School. This culinary artist has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from Texas A&M, and holds a Certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. She’s married to another lifelong and super-supportive Houstonian, Vernon Henry, and they have two vibrant girls, 4 and 6. Here, she provides her recipe for fantastic food photos.
Where/how does one learn to be a food stylist?
Culinary school is helpful, as they can help get you on the path to great internships, but not entirely necessary. There are also food styling courses available. I believe the best route to learning about food styling is from other stylists, continuous testing in your own kitchen, and working closely with photographers. I have had some fabulous mentors that have introduced me to the business, and I continue to look for assisting opportunities from experienced stylists.
I was first introduced to food styling by Dallas powerhouse Paige Fletcher. She and her team are incredibly professional and talented, and often come to Houston to work at Ralph Smith Studios.
For amateur food stylists (aka everyone who goes to restaurants and posts to Instagram), what are some easy tricks to make your photo look better?
Don’t expect an appetizing shot if you’re dining after sunset. I say this because amateur or not, one should avoid using a camera’s built-in flash. I recommend sitting next to a window and utilizing natural light. Although, I do have high hopes for the technological progression of the iPhone®.
MORE TRICKS: Shoot at the appropriate angle. Overhead is great for pizzas and group shots. A 45-degree angle is a pretty solid eye-catching approach. Utilize props of interest. Keep it clean. Crumbs and natural drips are fine, but fingerprints and smudges are unsightly.
What’s the most difficult food to style?
Food likes to misbehave. Lettuce wilts, soups and sauces congeal, dressings separate and cooked/ cut meats shrink, losing their natural shine and vibrant color. While there are preventative techniques, I would say that a stylist’s most challenging would be ice cream. It starts as a liquid, so one automatically starts at a deficit. Not to mention the Texas heat. Ice cream styling requires organization and a lot of preparation in order to maintain shape, aesthetics and longevity.
What’s your ultimate photo shoot?
I had the opportunity to prepare Tim Tebow’s avocado recipes for a live filming during Super Bowl LI. Meeting Tebow, styling the set and the overall vibe reverberating through our city solidified one of my favorite working experiences. As far as an “ultimate,” sure, I have an ongoing wish list for foods to style, but I find immense joy in working with different photographers and clients to bring their concepts to fruition. I’m especially excited for a new project and partnership with photographer Emily Jaschke. As business owners, living in an entrepreneurial city with strong culinary influence, we recognize the perpetual need for quality food styling and photography. Our concept, EaK! Productions, will bolster both the start-up and established company’s visual marketing content with ease and affordability. Eak! launches Fall 2017. Peep @eak_productions on Instagram!