Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Career in Food Styling

By Pari Syal
Photography: Courtesy Saba Gaziyani

I can make food emote for the camera,” says Saba Gaziyani, food photographer-cum-stylist, based out of Mumbai, India. Capitalizing on the visual aspect of culinary art, she shares her insights with aspiring food stylists…

A graduate in Hotel Management from the illustrious IHM Mumbai, Saba Gaziyani chanced upon food styling as junior chef at The Leela in Mumbai way back in 1994.


Going from strength to strength – she is the person responsible for a lot of visual appetizing that one gets to see at local eateries like Oh Calcutta, Gajalee and Domino’s chain of restaurants and the established brands like Venky’s Chicken, MTR, etc., - Saba has been instrumental in raising the bar for food styling across the country, especially in a scenario sans any formal study course in Food Styling as a vocation.   


Combining the aesthetics of a good cook, with the artistic sensibilities of a good photographer, food styling has been turned into a full fledged career with more than 15 years of experience with the best in the industry and 500 films as a stylist. Saba’s foray into food photography in 2004 was a natural progression for one who had worked for more than a decade with some of the most respected photographers in India and abroad.


Saba's studio in Mumbai, the only exclusive digital studio for food photography in India, is really her canvas. She excels by questioning stereotypes and reinventing set methodologies. “I believe as a food stylist and a food photographer, one should know their food well, if required, do a good research & experiment with your creativity." In conversation with IAnD:

·         What prompted you to pursue a vocation in food photography and styling? How different is this from culinary education?
As a Food Photographer I started in the year 2004. I was just a Food Stylist before that. Well I got bored of only styling and this seemed very exciting. I had picked up fine nuances of photography while styling so that helped. I can now create my own compositions the way I see it and am not dependent on anybody to ruin my imagery just because he or she does not know food well enough.


Food styling is a natural culmination of good culinary skills. One has to be thoroughly knowledgeable about how to cook, how food behaves –both, aesthetically and scientifically, etc. So there is no difference; it is progression.


·         Are there any particular courses that one can pursue especially in food styling?

No. No courses. The best way to learn is by paying a lot of attention to food science. Having a good aesthetic sense helps.


·         What is your current pursuit - gourmet or food styling? Or both?

Positively both. I am also dabbling a little in recipe development...


·         After 16 years in the field, what is that one thing you wish you could have learnt as a student, which should have been part of your syllabus?

I wish the colleges teach you Food Styling as a subject in itself. It is positively not something that should be picked up as an option when you don't get any campus placement...


·         Two do’s and don’ts (each) that you could share with a student aspiring to pursue food styling?

Do’s: Cook a lot. Experiment a lot. Go beyond boundaries. Pay a lot of attention to what happens to your food at various temperatures...



Don’ts: There are no short cuts. So don't think you can learn this in a jiffy just because you know to cook. Going through magazines helps... Keep your eyes, ears and mind open. Don't think that this is a high paying profession initially. Eventually, yes; the world is yours!


  1. May you consider this: http://food-design.arba-esa.be/fr/articles.php where I'm the coordinator and a professor as well
    or my own website: www.francoiselaskar.com
    If you please share it with your relations! Thx
    Francoise Laskar

  2. Hi Saba, Thank you for such wonderful inputs. The pictures are great!!! I have recently started with a food blog ( infact, recently started entering kitchen after marraige :) hahah ). Do have a look at my pics... There is a lot to improve, yes...but ur feedback will be appreciated. Thanks !

  3. I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for
    my mission.

  4. hi saba i am very keen to know about if u teach food styling

  5. Hey nice post saba... the pictures are really great...Thanks for sharing.
    Food Styling done was really nice...


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