Behind the scenes on a decor shoot...


props, props, and more props...


One thing I’ve learnt… decor styling is not for sissies!

  In fact, it is H A R D W O R K !

Please don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love my job, as I have said many times before.  #iLoveMyJob. 

This shoot was no exception. It was also a LOT of work.

 I was tasked by Food & Home Entertaining Magazine to compile an article for their January  2012 issue on baking items, appliances and utensils. It wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I actually realised how much time is involved in preparing for a shoot.  In fact, I’m often asked by well-meaning friends and family what a stylist does all day. Usually in a doubtful tone, implying “Not a lot, we think”.

Well, let me try to break it down for you.. 

 Receiving the brief…

  • Upon receiving the brief (this is an outline of what the magazine requires) I start making my lists. Planning is essential! This usually involves a day on the phone contacting people, writing emails, and getting in touch with suppliers to find out what products they have available and if any would be suitable for the shoot.
  • I then spend about two days planning my ideas, jotting down notes and looking for references (pictures which I like) either on the internet or in magazines. I scan or copy these into a folder to share with the photographer so that they have an idea about what’s needed regarding lighting and set-up.

 The week of the shoot...

  • It takes around two days of sourcing (this means finding, borrowing and sometimes even begging) the required items for a particular shoot. In this case baking items. Can you see the beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer in the picture? I just knew I had to include one in the shoot, and so I’m very grateful to Kitchen Passion  for lending me one from their Parktown North store, and I didn’t even have to beg!
  • It takes around half a day to deliver all the items to the studio and unpack them all. BTW: Boy we need to look at packaging of appliances… is all that plastic, polystyrene and paper really necessary?
  • One full day shooting.  
  • Another whole morning packing everything away. Ditto on the packaging comment above,
  • And lastly, another day returning everything to the shops and suppliers.

 So that’s an average week when styling. When coupled with a heatwave, climbing in and out of a hot car, pushing a heavy trolley full of goodies, and you’ll see why this job isn’t for sissies!

 Keep watching for the January issue of Food & Home Entertaining hits the shelves mid December, and post of all the pic's from the shoot.



Secrets of a stylist....


... Never under estimate the value of a good knife.

Yesterday I attended the media launch of the new Kitchen Passion store in the fabulous Sandton City extension

 Almost everything in this store belongs in my kitchen. Seriously.  My Christmas wish list tripled when I saw the pink Bamix (stick mixer) alongside the matching pink Kitchen Aid mixer , and my all time favourite, the Zwilling J.A.Henckel knives.

 I wonder if anyone noticed me drooling over all the stunning goodies ?  Golly, I hope I didnt make a fool of myself  (again.) I love and admire all the beautiful gadgets,  stunning cookware, and  stylish utensils, but my favourite, must have, can’t live without kitchen tool is a good knife! And as I was admiring all the beautiful knives I was reminded of my own small collection, and how each piece has a special memory for me.

 I graduated from Hotel School in 1989 with a set of Victornox knives which I longed to upgrade to J.A.Henckels knives, and a dream to travel the world.

I was blessed to accomplish both.

For 10 years I travelled and cooked my way  across four continents, collecting a Henckel knife as a memento at each destination.

In 2000 I decided  to park my passport and trade my back packer’s accommodation for a grown up house in the suburbs, I bought myself one last travel souvenir: a wooden knife block to store my knives in. ( pictured below)       Would you believe that until this time I had simply wrapped my knives in felt squares and packed them between my clothes in my luggage?   Prior to 9/11 airport security was not as it is today!

 My knives and their block stand on the counter in my kitchen and I use them daily, for cooking at home and preparing food for photoshoots.  A worthwhile investment with a collection of treasured memories, they are my "must have" for every good stylists tool box!

 I wonder what  your favourite kitchen tool, gadget, or appliance is?  

I would love to hear from you.



 My favourite, can't live without kitchen companions.


 My set of Zwilling Henckel knives collected over the years.

I prefer...

Thanks for popping past, I hope you enjoy your visit.

I thought I would share a bit more about myself.

In future posts I will be sharing about what I do, but first a little of who I am,

I prefer winter to summer, cold to hot and snow to sand.
I prefer tea to a tipple , and I prefer cooking to cleaning.
I prefer restaurants to take aways, and I prefer hotels to camping.
I prefer dogs to cats.
I prefer careful & calculated to risky and dangerous,
I prefer kind and considerate to stubborn and sulky, and generosity to extravagance.
I prefer well groomed to made up or made over.
I prefer living to existing.
I prefer Sundays to Saturdays.
I prefer conversation to television.
I prefer breakfast to dinner, and sunset to sunrise.
I prefer silver to gold, diamonds to pearls, and will not say no to either!
I prefer optimistic to pessimistic
I prefer safety to paranoia.
I prefer babies to children.
And finally I prefer flexible to inflexible; so, none of the above is set in stone.

I would love to hear about some of your likes and preferences.. please drop me a line.



Styling: Wordless Wednesday

I love flowers, flowers and more flowers, what else can I say...
See you Friday !



Behind the scenes on SAVOUR

From beginning to end, one rule reigns - make sure there's good coffee (and plenty of it!)

What does a food stylist do? (Part 1)

So the book is here, on the shelves of Exclusive Books (happy dance) and I am listed in the credits as food and decor stylist. Great! But what does that actually mean, and what is involved, and what does a food stylist do? It's a good question, and one I am often asked, so I'll explain my role on a food shoot and what is involved.

In January I was approached by Marc Hirschowitz and his two co-authors about an idea they had for a recipe book. They had an arrangement with the publisher Random House Struik to publish the book, but that was a long way off. First they needed a photographer and a stylist. This is where Vanessa Lewis and I came in. We have worked together for many years and although we do not have an exclusive relationship (we sometimes date other stylists or photographers), we have developed a great understanding and synergy. Our favourite Whatsapp line to each other is:

Ok, so back to the food styling: how do we go from a few recipes typed or scribbled to a magnificent 300-page bound book with glossy paper and a grosgrain ribbon? The answer is much sweat, very little sleep on my part, and much hard work, a lot of laughs ( a few tears too, I 'm not going  to lie to you), a LOT of coffee and an uncountable number of emails, SMSes and Whatsapps.

A food stylist's job is to (1) make the food that is to be photographed look as appealing and appetizing as possible,  and (2) present the prepared food in such a way that it engages the reader so that upon seeing the completed picture in the book, the reader exclaims "Oh I want to make, eat, have that!". This means not only shopping, preparing and cooking the actual ingredients for the recipes (more about that topic later), but also creating a clear vision regarding the way in which the food is to be presented. For example, is it garnished? And with what?  Are there accompaniments such as rice or bread, additional food items that give the recipe context. For example a pasta recipe is usually served with grated parmesan cheese, extra Italian bread if it has a creamy sauce to "mop up" and even a glass of wine or water. This is how you would serve it at home, and how you might be served in a restaurant, and it's what we call "lifestyle setting" and the first step for the food stylist.
...beautiful plates in the chapter Spice which I inherited from my Granny
The next question is, how will the food be presented; will it be served in a bowl, or on a plate, a serviette or board? These items are crucial to the serving of the cooked food and we call these items "soft props". Most stylists will have a basic collection of these items that they may have built up over the years in the industry, such as the beautiful plates in the chapter Spice on page 186 which I inherited from my Granny, and have added to over the years. There are other more unusual props such as the organic recycled take away containers and plates, and cutlery in the chapter Immigrant on page 242 which had to be specifically sourced from a particular supplier (thank you to Green Home). Then sometimes the perfect prop requires an extra talent, such as the hand sewn napkin in Slurp or the knitted chapter opener for the chapter Soup. Yes - I cook, knit and iron on shoots!
Then sometimes the perfect prop requires an extra talent, such as the hand sewn napkin in Slurp or the knitted chapter opener for this soup chapter.
Next come the "hard props" which are the surfaces to be used, the decor items required and the backgrounds (which although often not that obvious, are crucial to the overall look of the picture). In SAVOUR, all the backgrounds were chosen and even specially constructed so the whole chapter would have a continuous theme, for example the chapter Love is a large framed chalkboard I had in my business and actually hung in my shop for many years. It made the perfect "serving platter" on which we placed all the food in the different containers, all highlighting the Love theme: heart shaped breadboards, heart shaped bowls and beautiful heart ribbon. The chapter Spice is photographed on the plates I mentioned previously, but would you believe the surface is actually an old workbench and tool cupboard that we uncovered in a garage? After a little Handy Andy, it was good to go! And construction? Yes, that too, the surface in the braai/BBQ chapter Sizzle is a tongue and groove panel that was purchased raw from a local hardware store; it then had to be assembled, painted, distressed and sanded all by yours truly (with help in the sanding department from Vanessa and Karen) and which became our "anchor" for the design of the entire chapter.
...the surface in the braai/BBQ chapter Sizzle is a tongue and groove panel that was purchased raw from a local hardware store; it then had to be assembled, painted, distressed and sanded...
Now I hear you asking, how do you think of all these things? Um I mentioned the little sleep right? And the coffee, and all the emails?
I'll tell you more about the conceptualisation process in the next blog post, so came back soon!

Love Taryne
cheese board