Ten Minutes With…
Ella Tarn, Food Stylist
Tell us a bit about what you do and how you got into the industry.
I am a freelance Food Stylist and Food Writer. So many people haven’t even heard of food styling but I can guarantee you’ve seen the work of one. Every time you see an image of food, whether in a film, cookbook, magazine or advert, a food stylist has made it look great for the camera. Making food look good enough to eat in real life and good enough to eat on camera are two very different things. After university I did a short course on food styling at Leiths School of Food and Wine, just out of interest and was hooked so I went on to do a nine-month culinary diploma at Le Cordon Bleu in London to get a professional qualification. After that, I started to assist other food stylists to learn on the job before working at Delicious Magazine and Weight Watchers Magazine. I have since gone freelance, food styling and recipe writing for editorial and commercial clients.
How did you get involved with Pocket Creatives?
I was approached by an agency acting for a leading supermarket looking to create food videos for social media. They’d just found a new video production company and were looking to up their game on their videos, and that’s how I met Pocket Creatives. I now work with them for a couple of days a month, producing these videos and can honestly say I really look forward to the next batch, we’ve become a really tight knit team!
What’s an average day like for you?
If I’ve got a shoot I’ll be up pretty early to pack up all the food I have bought and to make sure I’ve got all the right equipment. I’ll drive to the studio or location and get everything set up. Depending on the job we’ll usually do 6-9 still shots or two videos so there’s a lot of organising to do and sometimes I’ll have an assistant to help out. I’ll get everything ready as fast as I can to start shooting. The great thing about shoot days is that you never go hungry, there’s plenty of food left after shooting for an epic shoot lunch for everyone! Shoots tend to last until about 5pm (or earlier in the Winter when it gets dark early).
What are the best and worst bits of your job?
I love seeing something come together from concept to reality. If you’ve never seen the recipe before and you know you’ve got to make it look great, the challenge is really exciting, especially for non-so-photogenic food. The worst is definitely the waste. Sometimes there is just so much food leftover. There are companies who will come and take food away to redistribute for you but it doesn’t always work out. I’m always bringing home odds and ends from shoots so dinner that night can be a little interesting!
What would your dream project be?
Sadly I think my dream job has come and gone before my time. I would have loved to be the food stylist for Matilda. Making those Bruce Bogtrotter cakes must have been so much fun! I’d love to be involved in a film like that, they’re so creative. You have to make some fantastical things but the tricky part is that they’ve got to be edible too.
You can find out more about Ella at ellatarn.com