Ryan Bartley talks about his career as a food stylist

Having worked within the food industry most of my life, food styling never really seemed like a viable career route, but since the first shoot I knew it was for me!

I was continuing my marketing career at a boutique food service supplier in London and within a few months I got involved in creating food packaging for the high street. Obviously a huge amount of money goes into all aspects of the process, from recipe development, ingredient sourcing, product testing, copy writing etc. When it came to the food styling for packaging, we had a very well respected stylist who we worked with every 6 months. My first ever official food styling gig only came about because her sister got married in Mauritius!

One week before production of a new range of retail products our stylist was in Mauritius. We had no backup and no time to find anyone else, so I volunteered; how hard could it be??

Turns out it is quite hard, but very enjoyable. The level of detail was the first thing that shocked me! But also the amount of time playing around with little things, using the not-so-secret trade secrets and also how long it takes!!!

Having worked as a chef I was used to long hours but that first shoot was a mammoth 18 hours!

One of the products we shot for went on to win a Quality Food Award and launched into Waitrose! And 4 of the 5 products are still available to buy in Tesco, Sainsburys, Co-Op and Waitrose. I do get very proud walking around the supermarket and seeing my first styling work on the shelves!

I spent the next 6 months frantically doing my marketing job whilst also developing and testing recipes for 2 new brands we launched, including doing the photography and styling for both websites. Incredibly hard work but the creativity and freedom I was allowed only emphasised that food styling and everything around it was the perfect job!

Also having recently trained as a pastry chef, which takes a combination of flair, creativity, precision and a growing level of OCD to get right! All of which makes my job as a food stylist even easier – the combination of attention to detail and creativity!

Ryan Bartley

Click here to see the full range of food photos from Ryan.


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