Updated: Apr 12
How thankful I am for the ever adventurous ride that I know on set as a food stylist. As I work with specific products and techniques, as well as the variety of unique personalities and the unpredictability of moment-by-moment requests, I am able to uniquely identify places of unrecognized strength that point me to more fully capitalize on what I have to offer. Tapping
into these places of strength often begins with being keenly aware of our personal responses in times of challenge. I happen to be fueled by the adventure of any journey, so it is these unpredictable challenges that grant positive places for me to stretch into the abilities that I may have otherwise missed.
I recently experienced this during a commercial production with an established client. Commercial productions often involve hundreds of hired creatives, unlike the tabletop product shoots where a partnership with one familiar photographer and their client allows for predictably high levels of success with a standard team. This can be quite the contrast to the rewarding collaboration to be had in commercial productions, which require a capacity to flex and adapt to the unknowns that surface and challenge the best of all creatives.
It was one such recent commercial production project that highlighted the “+1” I contribute to each food styling assignment I am privileged to calendar. Throughout this multiple day project, my food styling team saw it as our opportunity to work in tandem with the other integral teams accountable for props, product, set design, locations, hair and makeup, and hired talent. Together, we had the responsibility of bringing to set the specifics delineated to each of us by the client, in tandem with the moment by moment asks of the Producer, Director, and Assistant Director. This can be quite the task. However, in this large system of particular creatives, I uniquely observed a certain calm composure in two key players of our overall production team. This calm composure is a trait that I also aim to exhibit in all my assignments whether the creatives present are two or two hundred. Therefore, the leadership I observed invited certain confidence in my own demeanor, as from the top, a calm can-do approach trickled down cheer and goodwill.
My primary job that week was to offer expertise as a food stylist. Knowing who hired me, and where I was being invited to align with their dedication to lead others with a kind and controlled governance, gave me specific confidence to do the same for my own team. In this grand assignment where we were tasked with working alongside creatives on multiple teams, I was able to observe the important role my calm demeanor plays to strengthen all my offerings as a food stylist. Leading my team with eyes on the deliverables, and the confidence we knew from having an organized pre-production familiarity with our responsibilities to the client, gave us clarity. We were focused on what was being asked of us, and we offered it cheerfully. Not only was I confident to lead my own team well, but I noticed we were creating a place where others could find refreshment. It was one of my assistants who drew to my attention that the apparent stress in a handful of our colleagues had diminished as they spent time with our team. They turned from our trailer to carry on with a clearer sense of purpose and confidence after being encouraged by our calm and cheerful discussions. Our hope was that they knew greater confidence to successfully accomplish their goals, having found a place to calmly discuss their responsibilities and carry them forward.
It was on that day, that I more fully appreciated the value of the calm demeanor I strive to share with every team, whether for a singular tabletop photo session or a full commercial production. Navigating around perceived stressors so that they rather become opportunities for new strengths is what stretches us into our very best. How thankful I am for my network of client relationships that offer some of the most advantageous rewards to the growth of my business, as I style tables of nourishment that serve to draw communities together. Every assignment is a unique invitation to highlight what is true, good, and beautiful, while finding joy in the places of challenge. Approaching every assignment in this manner equips me to fully step into all I’m given to share with my clients, as I serve them with a kind and listening ear, and the specific knowledge and calm confidence to make their stories known to others.