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Sit at a restaurant, coffee shop or any place with food and drink long enough and you’re bound to witness a group of millennials standing around a table shifting plates, artfully arranging sunglasses and snapping photos of whatever they ordered. Thanks to social media, everyone’s a food photographer these days. Including me (insert the blush emoji).

But until recently, I just went with my gut when it came to taking these kind of photos. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, a not-for-profit organization representing approximately 220 members who grow greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, invited me to a food styling event in which I learned some key tricks of the trade to make my imagery significantly better.

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We focused on two #SpringIntoFlavour-themed recipes (a chicken fajita and a soba noodle salad), both of which highlighted the organization’s incredible selection of produce. Below are the three main takeaways that stuck with me:

1. Keep your ingredients looking fresh by brushing them with glycerin. For vegetables in particular, a spritz of water on top of this layer will make it look as though they were just washed with the water droplets will stick more stubbornly.

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2. Manipulate the lighting. First of all, natural light is the best kind of light to take such photos in. Yet sometimes due to poor timing or the lack of an ideal space some reinterpretation is needed. To manipulate the light, all a person needs is a white board to bounce lighting, black board to absorb it and foil to illuminate specific areas. All of these can be affordably purchased at an art store.

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3. Tell a story. It’s important not to just take a shot of a well-styled plate of food. By placing ingredients or other objects like menus, books or even those sunglasses around the dish, more context is given to the image. This encourages viewers to connect to the image even more.

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The latter was made easiest thanks to the inclusion of such delicious, colorful and local vegetables. I used them both sliced up artfully in the dish and whole around it. But my favorite was creating a deliberate mess that made my images look more approachable and, strangely, beautiful. It didn’t hurt that I was able to snack on them throughout the session.

Don’t be afraid to visit your favorite farmer’s market this summer to stock up on local produce. You never know when you might want to style your own mouthwatering photoshoot. Visit my Instagram page to learn how I can help get you started!

(This blog post was sponsored by the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers but the opinions are all my own.)