Teresa Blackburn, Food Stylist

The Secret Life of a Food Stylist

Teresa Blackburn has been a food stylist for commercial, editorial, film, television & video for more than 25 years.  She said she fell into the craft by accident but truth be told, she had all the ingredients for a great food stylist – art degree, photography skills, great cook and gardener.  You might not know her but you have seen her work on everything from popular network cooking shows to your favorite cookbook and magazine.

What should we know about Teresa?

Teresa is one of the most sought-after food stylists in the country.  Her client list includes major brands like Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Country Living Magazine, Parade Magazines, Bush’s Beans, Heinz Ketchup, 7 UP and more.  Not only is she a food stylist, but her daughter Whitney Kemp has her own food styling business and works regularly with her mom on their large assignments.  Teresa has a beautiful blog called Food on Fifth that has just celebrated its 13th birthday. She began the blog as a gift of recipes for her children but it has become a very popular marketing tool for Teresa’s beautiful work.

Why don’t we know much about food stylists?

Food stylists work closely with the photographer and art director but are usually the unsung heroes of food photography.  Their skills bring the food and our visual senses together.  Their craft is learned through apprenticeship.  Most food stylists begin as assistants to food stylists. Within the industry, close relationships are created among great food photographers and great stylists.  Without great styling you can’t have great photography or video.

What are some of the new trends in food photography today?

Today’s look is about natural light and a more casual and relaxed approach to styling – almost as if someone has just left the table.  Many of the photographers and clients are now women, much different that it was 25 years ago.  This influx of women has brought about this natural, more casual look and aesthetic.

Do food stylists use fake food?

Absolutely not.  All shots these days use “real food” that is prepared by the stylist with exacting recipes and ingredients from the clients.  Teresa says the only thing she brings for beverage shoots are beautiful crystal ice cubes that won’t melt on set.

What types of media use food stylists?

While some thought that online would bring huge decreases in media where food is portrayed, the opposite is true.  Today food is being shot for magazines, social, digital campaigns, cookbooks, televisions shows, video and more.  A typical shoot may include set-ups for several types of media.

What are some of the most unique things happening right now?

Virtual shoots are now happening and the results have been good.  The photographer, the client and the stylist all have computer screens to adjust and approve the photography.

Resources and Links

Teresa Blackburn’s Food Styling Website

Food on Fifth Blog  foodonfifth.com

@foodonfifth on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

Teresa Blackburn on Facebook