Learn: How I got started in Food Styling

"I would love to know how your journey as a food stylist started"

Is a question that I am frequently asked on my Food Styling Workshops , and so for those of you who are wondering, this is how it all started...

The funny part is I never set out to be a food stylist. Not because I wasn't interested, but because I actually had no idea there was even such a job called Food Styling, let alone that I could make it my career !

I studied Catering & Hotel Management so I had a solid background in food preparation, and I always loved the pretty side of plating and presentation.

I took a break from cooking and was working for an interior decorator when I was approached by a national food publication to become a regular contributor; developing and writing recipes, cooking and food styling articles for the magazine.

One thing led to the next, and for the past 19 years I have been a professional Food Stylist. A job where I get to combine my love of food, decor and detail, for a living:  has been pretty darn fun!
I think it was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time, BUT, an that is a big BUT: that is where the "good luck" part of my story ends.
Other than my fortuitous meeting with the magazine editor which lead to me being introduced to the job of food styling, forging a career as a professional food stylist has been sheer hard work, determine, and a lot of blood sweat and tears.
Which is what has led me to this point now, almost 2 decades later, saying, I want others to have what I never had, resources, information, and community.

And the rest, as they say, is history, or in my case: a springboard, to help launch others in this fabulous world of food styling.

Drop me an email, or comment below and let me know if you have any other questions about how I got started!

Until next time, happy styling.

I am frequently asked how I got started as a Professional Food Stylist, this is my background to my career as a professional food stylist

Recipes: 5 Ways With Plums

Autumn had a party, and I was very very late. I missed most of the late summer stone fruit, and just managed to get my hands on a couple of punnets of plums. I had a long list of recipes I wanted to try, but unfortunately only managed to eeck out these few with my precious loot.

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere these area few winning recipes to keep in mind for later in the summer, and if you like me, in the Southern Hemisphere the roasted plums can be replaced with quinces, and served with roast meats such as duck, venison and pork, or served with breakfast with muesli and a good dollop of thick yoghurt, or simply with custard.

The crumble bars are just as delicious with dates or dried apricots, so don't let the seasonality of the main ingredient put you off, these recipes are very adaptable.I hope you'll give them a try!

Spice Roast Plums



Plum, Pistachio and Oat Crumble Bars.








 Styling & Photography : Taryne Jakobi

Recipes: Taryne Jakobi 




Workshops : Food Styling & Food Photography Workshop

Food Styling & Food Photography Workshop : Friday 19 JUNE 2019 

Everything you need to know about the art of Food Styling & Food Photography by award winning stylist & photographer team, Taryne Jakobi & Roelene Prinsloo

About Taryne Jakobi & Roelene Prinsloo

Taryne & Roelene have been working together for the past 10 years as a professional stylist and photography team, they bring with them years of experience in the industry and will demonstrate how they conceptualise, style, and shoot award winning images.

This course is perfect for you if you are :

  • A photographer wanting to expand their food photography and food styling knowledge.
  • An aspiring food or lifestyle stylist wanting to learn from an industry professionals
  • A foodie or creative social media buff who wants shots on their blog, Instagram or Pinterest to be to a cut above the rest.
  • A creative entrepreneur whose business relies on stunningly styled and photographed images,  such as a caterer or baker.

What the course covers

Taryne & Roelene will discuss the following topics 

  • What is Food Photography
  • Why the need for Food Photography
  • The types of food photography, editorial, commercial, and social media
  • Technical aspects of Food Photography:
  • Equipment 
  • Shutter speed, ISO, aperture and white balance
  • Natural light & studio flash 
  • Tethering to PC & shooting wireless 
  • Creative Elements of Food Photography: 
  • Depth of Field as a creative element 
  • Composition :How to work with composition in your food photography to create dynamic images 
  • Angles: what works and what doesn’t 
  • Lightening : Creating Tone & Mood in an image 
  • What is Food Styling 
  • Why the need for Food Styling 
  • Food Styling as a Creative Element of Food Photography 
  • Plating 
  • Props
  • Backgrounds
  • Garnishes 
  • Interacting with the food 
  • Good Vs Bad Styling 
  • Top Tips on Choosing Props 
  • Our Process - putting it all together : MoodBoard
  • Image Discussions
  • Q&A
  • Free Resources and Notes Hand Outs

Practical Demonstration & Hands On Workshop

Roelene & Taryne will set up and demonstrate how to style & shoot 5 different food scenes, including a flat lay, a dark & moody scene, a technical splash shot, and 2 scenes using available natural light.


Food Styling Workshop: Why is Composition useful in Food Styling.

You might be thinking what has composition got to do with food styling? And you are right in thinking it is more applicable to design, art or photography. But it doesn't end there, composition is a powerful design element that food stylists can use to create powerful images.

There are basic photography principles that food stylists can use to enhance their work, and of course once we know the rules we are free to break them.  Once we know these principles we can either follow them or ignore them and create our own.
Food styling composition is a subjective and creative process that is individual for each person.

In my upcoming food styling workshop, The Art of Visual Story Telling using Food & Props ( phew, its a long name, I know!) I have included a short section on Composition because I have found it to be so so useful in my own food styling experience.

Composition is a strong design element, as well as a form of art and depends a lot on the viewer’s eye, our aim is always to direct the viewers eye to our food, so it makes sense to incorporate these principles where we can.

The most boring looking recipe can become a superb photo because of great composition. The opposite is also true: poor composition can spoil an amazing recipe and it can look uninteresting and uninspiring. We definitely don’t want that!

When it comes to composition a part can come naturally, from your own sense of style and practice. There are however a few basic rules for composition within (food) photography that can be applied to food styling and help you create that killer composition that will get people to view your image, try your recipe or engage with your instagram post.

The purpose of composition in food styling is as mentioned above, to direct the viewers eye to our subject, this could be a juicy hamburger, a delicious slice of cake, or frosty drinks. 

Our subject, and the purpose of our food story will mostly dictate the composition.
A food story around the best ever, homemade burger with ALL the toppings will mean the hero, our burger, will obviously take centre stage. The strongest composition would be for the camera angle to be dead straight, facing the burger. We arrange our burger in the centre of our frame ( the area we are photographing ) and build our composition around this, focusing on balance and symmetry.  Alternatively we can apply the design principles of the rule of thirds, which is the placement of the subject along imaginary grid lines in the frame and then use another compositional element called negative space in the “open” area. Immediately the viewers attention and eye is drawn to the main focus, the burger, and we can then style supporting elements of our story around this key item.
This is the most common composition for advertising billboards.

Another food story may be around the narrative, “you think making/ baking macaroons is difficult, I’ll show you it’s not” 

For a food story like this we might want to incorporate a few food styling and prop elements that not only communicate our story but that we can use as visual clues to our narrative. Positioning the camera directly above ( birds eye view, or flat lay position) will give us more space to arrange our composition. We can use the principles of odd numbers, have 3 , 5 or even seven elements in the frame, small bowls, ingredients, props that show our process. Another composition principle we might include here is leading lines, how we place these items and if they direct our eye to the subject, again following imaginary lines that direct our attention to the hero of our shoot, the macaroons.

My third tip is probably the most important, and if your are like me , can often be the hardest to apply, and that is trust yourself and have fun! 

I know its easier said than done right? We can get stuck in our heads, faffing and arranging, rearranging making sure we have every element perfect.

Remember these are guidelines, and they are subjective, there is no right and wrong. The more you relax and enjoy, practice and try new things the more you will learn and hone your natural instinctive style, and the more natural your style the more the viewer will connect with your food story.

Go for it! I’m here to cheer you on.

if you want to learn more - In the upcoming course The Art of Visual Story telling  we will discuss various compositions and how effective they are in communicating a message, for example below is a great example of a story I did  on Cara Cara oranges, and how I used composition in the visual narrative.

Composition is a design and photography principle that plays an important role in food styling. It is a useful principle to learn as a food stylist, and I explain why in this blog post.

This story on Cara Cara Oranges shows the design elements of geometry, the circle pattern of the oranges is strongly repeated in all the images, emphasis on their shape creates a strong visual representation of their importance in the story, as they are the hero , the recipes include them in the cake, curd and syrup.

Other design elements incorporated in the composition are the rule of thirds, placing the objects of intent on the intersecting points of the grid lines, and framing, creating a frame within a frame using the cake rack and the napkin to create a frame.

Food Styling : Taryne Jakobi

Photography: Libby Edwards




Food Styling Workshops: What is colour theory & why I use it in visual story telling

Colour theory is the foundation on which I base all my food styling and photography. It is the basic principle I use, and my foremost consideration on every shoot.

The colours of the food ( and the colour theory to be applied to that particular food ) will determine all the other styling elements, background and props, lighting and mood, composition and balance that I then use to build my visual story.

Colour theory is the strongest and most powerful tool in creating a food story in food styling.

But, I hear you ask, why exactly is colour theory?
There is really a lot of information on the web, and I suggest read through a few articles, in short, I think this quote is a good definition of what colour theory is.

"Color theory is a term used to describe the collection of rules and guidelines regarding the use of color in art and design, as developed since their early days. Color theory informs the design of color schemes, aiming at aesthetic appeal and the effective communication of a design message on both the visual level and the psychological level.

Modern color theory is heavily based on Isaac Newton’s color wheel, which displays three categories of colors: primary colors (red, blue, yellow), secondary colors (created by mixing two primary colors), and intermediate or tertiary ones (created by mixing primary and secondary colors). " 
Interaction Design.Org

Colour theory in food styling plays a number of roles, firstly, and primarily is to create visual interest. We eat with our eyes, and an appealing or appetising image will immediately attract the viewers attention.

Secondly, the colours communicate as the quote above says, on a subliminal, or psychological level, for example brown, rust, orange and amber colours are considered warm colours and they communicate warmth, and the associations that go with that particular though emotion, such as comfort, down to earth, natural goodness, autumn, relaxed and mellow.  Green colours communicate the opposite message, the psychological associations with green are, spring, new, freshness, energetic, healthy and young.
Different colours, and different colour combinations will therefore not only tell different stories, but also evoke different moods  provide context, and clues to your visual narration.

" Color theory is both the science and art of color. It explains how humans perceive color; how colors mix, match or clash; the subliminal (and often cultural) messages colors communicate."  99 Designs

Based on the colour wheel, there are 2 fundamental basics which apply to food styling. Firstly the warm and cool colours on the colour wheel and what they communicate in terms of food and mood. If you were to look at the colour wheel and draw a circle down the middle you would divide the circle in half, splitting the colours of red, yellow, orange, from the blue, green, and purple. The red, orange and yellow colours are considered warm colours, and the blue, green, and purple colours are considered cool colours.  The principle of warm or cool colours is elementary to the visual narration, if you are styling a story around comfort foods, lovely homely soups, rustic artisan breads, and other wintery indulgences, it would be incongruent to use a blue background, and props. Blue is not a warm colour, so instead of evoking the feelings associated with warmth and comfort the story now looks odd, the visual clues are clashing, as opposed to bringing the story together, as they are telling two different stories.

The second principle is colour schemes, or colour combinations. I love composing a food styling story around a particular colour scheme. It is the most effective and consistent way to create a visually interesting image.

There are a number of colour scheme based on the colour wheel, complimentary colours, are colours opposite each other on the wheel, analogous colours, are the colours next to one another on the colour wheel,  triadac colours are those which are evenly spaced apart on the colour wheel, and a monotone colour scheme is one single colour with various shades, and tones.

Below are some examples of the various colour scheme and how I use them in my food styling.


Complimentary colours are colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, red-green, orange- blue, yellow- purple.
In food styling they are the most effective, and most dynamic combination because there is  a sharp contrast between the two colours, they can really make the food and imagery pop. The downside is that  certain combinations can look cliched ( think the typical red & green of Christmas) and overusing them can get tiresome. In the example below for a story on Avocados, I freshened the traditional red & green colour scheme up by replacing red with pink as a complimentary to the green of the product, the result is a dynamic and modern image that is unexpected and visual appealing.

Analogous coluors are colours that are situated alongside each other on the colour wheel. Because of this, they naturally form the most harmonious scenes in food stories.
An analogous scheme is usually made up from one primary ( blue) , one secondary ( purple) and one tertiary colour ( violet/ and or pink)  as seen in the examples below, and is often found in nature. Analogous color combinations can also be made up from more than just three colors.


Triadic colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel and tend to be very bright and dynamic, so they work particularly well in food styling for summery type stories: think of the classic BBQ combination on red & blue check tablecloths, with accents of yellow in the decor and food, such as sunflowers, or whole corn on the cob, or the example below of the watermelon margaritas, the red of the fruit, the blue background, and the green in the garnish from the mint, and limes. A triadic scheme creates visual contrast and harmony simultaneously, making each item stand out while making the overall image pop.


Monotone or monochrome is not restricted to only black or white, a monochromatic scheme can be any one colour, and varying tones, tints and shades of that particular colour. This is not commonly used in food styling, although in the example below it is a very effect way to tell the particular food story.
The green background, green props, and green food all tell the story of feature, Kale. The story centred around the Pantone colour of the year 2017, it was called Kale, and so I did a food story featuring Kale as the food element along with the colour. It is a dynamic and visually interesting story, the different textures of the food add interest while the single colour keeps the focus on the hero of the story, the kale.


Photography: Dylan Swart & Roelene Prinsloo

Food & Styling : Taryne Jakobi

Food Styling Workshops: What is visual story telling & why you need it.

" A picture speaks a thousand words" 

My upcoming food styling workshop has a very long ( and not very catchy name )
It is called VISUAL STORY TELLING: The art of story telling with food & props.
And I hear you asking, "what does that even mean?"

I know, I know, I should have just called it a food styling workshop, and it is, but it is also so much more than that.
Food Styling is so much more!

Since before human beings could read and write we communicated with stories, verbal stories. As we evolved, the story telling did to,  from cave men, and their primitive rock art drawings, to troubadours singing songs to the illiterate population during the Middle Ages.
With the invention of the printing press the capacity for story telling increased, and the stories were no longer dependant on human memory, they could be recorded, and were portable, unlike the rock art and Hieroglyphics. Fast forward through the industrial revolution and story telling had more mediums, not just books, but photography, radio, and television.

And then 1990 hit, and the world wide web was born. Suddenly, anyone could tell their story, for the first time in history everyone had a voice through new mediums like blogs, YouTube, facebook, podcasts, and so on. With little to no cost it became possible for a good story to travel the world in the click of a moment.

"Today, there are more ways than ever ever before to tell stories."

 But it is important to remember that what makes for a good story is the same today as it ever was.

A good story has a narrative, or story line, it has interesting characters, it has a plot, and often a sub -plot, and the best stories are the ones that are memorable, and they are memorable because they evoke an emotion.

The art of visual story telling is using visuals, or images, in this case photographs to tell a food story. The adage " A picture speaks a thousand words" is the most adapt description of what visual story telling is.

In photography and food styling, the way to tell the food or recipe story is by using food and props.

 Creating the visual narrative  using colours, composition, lightening, we can craft a strong image, an image that tells a story, a story that will be remembered.

Every cake tells a story. Every picture (should) tell a story.

Why do we bake cakes ? A special occasion, a celebration, a shared event ( very seldom is cake a solo thing) 

There are so many reasons we bake and create.

What is your photo saying about your cake?

Is it telling the story of triumph- “I mastered this challenging recipe ! “

Is it telling the story of celebration - “ Look what I made! I never thought I could be a baker, I always felt intimidated in the kitchen”

Or in this case, my grandmothers one-bowl bundt cake, tells a story of nostalgia.

Of a simpler time, of a very real kind of slow living. 

An easy recipe that looks impressive but not ostentatious or gaudy. 

A beautiful gesture to friends and family that says I love you enough to bake you a cake on a random Thursday, cause who needs more reason than that !

The props connect to the theme, my grans vintage pressed glass cake stand and gorgeous antique French linen napkin are subtle clues in the story, sentimental and precious

The soft, pretty light says that this is a gentle story, a warm story, a wistful story. A memorable story. A well crafted narrative.

Your food has a story, and it deserves to be told well,  on Visual Storytelling: The Art of Story Telling With Food & Props, I’ll teach you how !

Click her for more details 


Book Review: Jamie Cooks Italy - Jamie Oliver

I've written before about my need for restraint when it comes to buying recipe books, as space restrictions require I prudently only purchase books that I am sure I will not only enjoy, but actually use!

The criteria has become even stricter as my book shelf reaches maximum capacity, I have to very carefully consider all purchases. In December, after said "careful consideration", and upon a couple of trusty recommendations,  I bought myself 3 recipes  books, ( Merry Christmas, to me, from me ) Donna Hay's Modern Baking, which I already reviewed, Food 52 Genius Desserts, and Jamie Olivers' Jamie Cooks Italy.

I absolutely love this book! and with the bonus of the accompanying television series, which I think is fabulous, makes this one of my all time favourite recipe book. I know its a bold claim, but this book ticks so many boxes for me. I have a very personal relationship with Italians, and Italian food. My oldest school friend is Italian, and growing up it was the most wonderous thing for my insecure, angst filled teenage self to spend a weekend at her house, where her Dad lovingly welcomed anybody and everybody ( regardless of age) with a Grappa, it was a house filled with lively activity, and her Mom would frequently scold her Dad to be quiet only to be met with the most wonderful reframe, " where there is noise, there is life."
There was always a reason to be making something delicious, and it was food so unlike my own home ( cottage pie with gemsquash and peas)
I now make frequent trips to the retirement village where they now live, desperate to learn the secrets to many of their much loved recipes. My own precious "Nonna" with a notebook crammed fill of recipes, handwritten, in beautiful loopy script, on ageing paper, a treasure trove of memories.
Which brings me back to Jamie's book; one of my absolute best things about a recipe books is when the author gives an intro, or background to a particular recipe. Well, this book has that and more, not only do we have an intro from Jamie for each recipe, written in his friendly conversational manner, but the Nonnas too ! Beautiful stories of everyday women cooking for their families, often with little more than a handful of basic ingredients. Traditional and non traditional skills, slow cooking, old flavours, classic combinations, and even some interesting and unusual combinations ( horseradish and pasta ?  who would have thought..)
The Nonnas add so character and warmth to each chapter and episode. I have no regrets buying this book, and it's hardly been on the crammed book shelf since I got it.
I've made variations of many of the pasta recipes, and salads since December, and as it gets cooler I'm looking forward making the hearty winter dishes.

Here are a couple of the recipes I made recently. I had a bucketful of homegrown tomatoes that I roasted, pureed and bottled. I used them as the base sauce for the Gnudi. The ricotta was rich, so I served it with a fresh crunchy side salad, using the recipe on page 82 for Matera Salad, with rocket, mint, apple, crunchy veg, and a orange & chilli dressing. I left off the burrata as I had enough cheese with the Ricotta and Parmesan.

I know! I never thought would ever say those words " too much cheese"

Anyway, here's to a wonderful book, SALUTE Jamie, and GRAZIE! to all the Nonnas.


with ricotta, homemade tomato sauce and sprouting broccoli


Business: How I Maintain Work - Life - Balance.

I dont. Not even close!  Balance is for Gymnasts. 

And I believe this. I don't think viewing life as a constant balance beam act, or ball juggling performance is either helpful or valuable.

The pressure to maintain this level of perfectionism is crazy.

I am determined to never fall into the trap again of being completely out of balance, but that being said I am fully embracing the sense that it's not a case of striving to maintain a constant equillibrium, but rather an ability to come back down from the peaks, or even the ability to pick myself up or motivate myself again after a holiday or rest period.

Busyness is no longer a badge of honor for me. I don't equate myself worth with my work and it’s related stresses and status 

This so called work-life balance thing seems to be a regular theme in my own life, and from what I read on social media, in others too. 

Whilst I certainly have my share of “stop the wheel I want to get off moments” for the most part I love this crazy ride called life, and in order to enjoy it more, with the people I want to spend it with, I made a few mindset changes to the way I view my life and business.  Before you read this and think I’m arrogant, or lazy, or even plain crazy, know that they are mine, and mine alone, you may agree with all, you may agree with none. I can only speak for myself, these work for me, and applying them to my life has brought a better sense of balance, of peace, and enjoyment.

I’m Not A Failure when I FAIL.

I dont always get it right, the past few months have been very hectic, new projects, existing commitments and mushrooming responsibilities. But, instead of tattooing a big F on my forehead and continually beating myself up about how I don’t always have my life together, I decided to take some proactive steps to help me slow down the hamster wheel. I outsourced some of my admin, I signed up for a meal delivery service ( I know! My friends think this is very funny, but I cant tell you how much time it has saved me) and I booked a weekend away, alone, so I could slow down, unplug, and re-focus. As a reformed perfectionist this was massive for me, I’m not a failure when I fail, I’m a wife, mom, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, godmother, business owner, employee, employer, mentor, mentee, human being, doing the best I can, showing up, being real not perfect! 

Feel the Fear and carry on anyway.

The phone call that doesn’t get answered immediately, the emails that don't get returned within the working day, the quotes that don't get done until the next day when I have time to actually think about what would be required.
In the past I would be terrified of missing a call or a quote deadline for fear that I would miss out on whatever job was going. Just like an orphan fearful that the meal before them was their last chance at substance, I viewed every job that came my way as my one and only chance to earn an income. I’m freelance, I might not get another job for a week, or even a month. And you know what, I’m ok with that now. I now rather choose to live below my means, and not have the stress of constantly worrying about the next job or paycheck. I trust that another job will come along at some point, and until then I focus on other aspects of my life, my relationships, and my health, physical and mental well being, and my other interests. Pottery anyone?

Redefined Success.

Busyness does not define me,  material possessions do not define, a client list of prominent clients does not define me.

I’m not impressed by fancy houses, cars or clothes. Do I like them, sure, would I like them, well to be honest, no, not anymore. The less stuff I have to look after the better! 

I could care less about a big social media following, being seen at all the right places, with well know faces. If the only thing requiring my attention is the relationships I value then I’m happy. 

What interests me is the quality of the relationships I have with the small circle I have around me; both business and personal.  I measure success, as relational, not transactional. This has freed me up to say no to work that does not excite me, clients that do not respect me, work that does not pay me my worth, and stress and mental health issues I no longer care for.

I would love your thoughts on Work-Life-Balance, 

Is it an elusive unicorn?

Do we need a genie and a magic lamp?

Do you struggle with balancing all of life’s many facets, or have you got a plan/ system/ secret yogi technique that works for you?

  Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.



Recipe: Coconut Yoghurt

This recipe was originally part of my series 5 ways with Coconut, after typing out the instructions I thought it deserved a post of its own, so et voila.

I have been struggling to get coconut yoghurt for our lactose free guests, and until recently had to drive quite a distance to a place that had coconut yoghurt. When I bought my InstaPot ( not sponsored)  last year I set about experimenting with coconut yoghurt.

It could not be simpler, it is easy, cost effective and perfect for both vegan and lactose intolerant. Coconut yoghurt is now available at a major food retailer in South Africa, and I have compared mine to theirs ( which has a list of emulsifiers, thickeners and other stuff) and whilst mine is not as thick as the commercially produced one, its tasty, tangy, free of additives and a fraction of the price. 

My husband has been enjoying it on his museli s a dairy free option, and I am enjoying it in my smoothies and have ben experimenting with a few dessert ideas, so look out for some upcoming blog posts.

The instructions look long because I have tried to give as much detail as possible, once you have made it once you will not even need to look at the recipe. I used an Instapot ( not sponsored) but you could make it in the oven after scalding the milk on the stove, or in a crock pot.

Homemade Coconut Yoghurt

Homemade Coconut Yoghurt Recipe

Homemade Coconut Yoghurt with coconut muesli


Homemade Coconut Yoghurt