Pasta is one of THE MOST popular dishes for readers. Just a quick browse of Pinterest shows that many of the most popular recipes are pasta. Almost all my pasta dishes have been solid performers.
But pasta is one of the hardest dishes to plate up well so it doesn’t just look like a pile of tangled mess. (As delicious as it may be!).
Food Bloggers Central is lucky enough to have Nicole Branan as part of the group. Nicole is a professional food photographer (you can see her portfolio here – Nicole Branan Photography) and she blogs at The Spice Train. And she’s sharing her tips with us! Take it away Nicole!!
TIPS FROM A PROFESSIONAL: HOW TO STYLE PASTA
Thanks Nagi! Hi, I’m Nicole from The Spice Train and I’m a professional food photographer.
Have you ever noticed that the spaghetti you plop on your plate don’t have any of the pretty twists and twirls you see in professional food photos? That’s because you didn’t get in there and twist each single noodle around your finger. That’s what you have to do to get pasta pretty for your food photos.
Here’s how it works:
1. Boil your pasta like you normally do and get a large bowl full of ice water and a little bit of oil ready.
2. When the pasta is done, drain it and then immediately dunk it into the ice water, that way it cools down right away and won’t stick.
3. Drain the now-cool pasta and take every single noodle, one by one, twist it around your finger and then lay it on the plate. Watch from the direction and angle your camera is going to see the pasta and build a nice
I learned this technique years ago from an excellent book called “Food Styling for Photographers: A Guide to Creating Your Own Appetizing Art“. It made a huge difference for me because it opened my eyes to just how picky I had to be to make food look good.
Thanks so much Nicole! Before I read this tip, I actually used to use my hands to plate up some pasta. But I didn’t do it strand by strand – I would take a bunch of pasta and twirl it around my fingers then sometimes “twist” it and place them, clump by clump, onto the pasta plate.
The result is that my pasta is denser than Nicole’s. Her pasta looks lovely and fluffed up and delicate. Here’s a pasta example of mine – see how different this Lemon Shrimp Pasta is compared to Nicole’s?
I think Nicole’s style is great for light, spring, delicate pastas – like the seafood one she did.
Whereas the denser look is suited to heavier sauces – like bolognaise and ragus. I wish I had used Nicole’s style for the Shrimp Pasta!
Oh – and though not as technical, when you don’t have the time to style the pasta strand by strand, here’s a quick tip for how to plate pasta nicely using tongs: Styling Tip – Mastering the Pasta Twirl. It’s not as nice as doing it by hand but it is still neater than just plonking the pasta in a bowl!!
Hope you find this tip useful!
Thanks again Nicole, for sharing your expertise with us! – Nagi x