According to the Korea Statistics, online shopping transactions by detailed product groups increased for year-on-year foodservice by (64.6%), food and food products by (29.1%), and home appliances and electronic and communication devices by (23.4%) during February 2021. The demand for online food clearly increased dramatically after COVID-19. As such, food photos of products sold online have become a bigger factor in sales than ever before. The work of food stylists who place food and utensils, create food spaces, and take pictures of such meals for dinner or advertisements has become important. A CBT reporter met food stylist Han Ji-hye to find out what food stylists do and to find out what values they keep thinking about when they do food styling.
1. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Hello, I’m Han Ji-hye, a food stylist who works as a cooking researcher at Kitchen Sonoma.
2. The job of a food stylist is unfamiliar to people, so please introduce it briefly.
You might think it is an unfamiliar job, but you are exposed to our work a lot more than you may realize. You can see a lot of food stylist’s photos in delivery apps, home delivery subscription services like meal, and food photos at the market. Moreover, food stylists work in food commercials, movies, and dramas.
3. You say you work in tv programs. Could you give us some examples?
Starting with the cooking program named Delicious Invitation which aired about 10 years ago, I have been working on the Best Cooking Tips, Olive Channel programs, Wednesday Food Talk, Three Great Heavenly Kings, Delicious Guys, Restaurants, and Plazas of Matnam Square.
4. What were your motivations or reasons to become a food stylist?
I have liked cooking since I was young, so I baked sometimes in my home when I was young. Moreover, I always packed my school lunch box myself. Also, I wanted to go to a culinary high school, but I couldn’t because of the strong competition rate, so I got a cooking license in high school and continued to cook. Since then, I became attracted to the food stylist job and became interested in it.
5. Do you have any beliefs or rules that you follow when you work?
Not only do I plan, but I also do the food styling myself on the set. That’s the rule of Kitchen Sonoma. The photos of food styling that I take will last forever, so I don’t work half-hearted. If something is lacking or annoying in my food styling, I edit them again and again until I am satisfied with them. It’s my rule to try to be perfect at the moment of doing food styling.
6. Where do you get your inspiration from when you work?
When I was invited to lecture at a university, I emphasized that university students in classes should look at food pictures or food programs for doing cooking styling well. Also, it’s good to look at food pictures on pinterest and apps you can easily access, and be sure to look at the new products on the market, because you will be inspired by the pictures of the new ingredients and imported ingredients.
7. Food stylists not only do food styling but also take photos of food styling and develop new food dishes. Therefore, if you developed menus, please briefly introduce them.
I work with photographers. I don’t take photos myself. The filming time is fixed, so I’m worried that I miss the details. Therefore, I work with the photographers and video directors, because they have professionalism. Moreover, I’m also developing menus for companies and broadcasting food, and developing menus by participating in programs like ‘Shake Off Convenience Stores.’ In a program of Pyeon-staurant, a lot of entertainers cook dishes themselves, however, we also develop a bit of ideas of food dishes, too. Nong Shim company contacted me directly, so I developed the menu and made recipes for Korea Yogurt products. Therefore, food stylists should know not only how to do food styling but also how to cook food dishes.
8. Do you have any memories of impressive events that you encountered while working?
There were no special events that I remember. We try new food stylings every moment of photography, so we have fun and learn a lot every moment when we work because of different styles of food. That’s why I will always be impressed by food styling. I think that’s the fun thing about being a food stylist.
9. How do you motivate yourself for food styling?
Even when I’m resting, I’m constantly exposed to various cooking media such as cooking movies or cooking programs. This helps me to keep thinking, “Oh, I want to cook my dishes.”
10. Is there anything you want to say to CBNU students?
I don’t know whether CBNU has a department of cooking, but anyway, I hope CBNU students can learn food styling and be interested in food styling through interviews with me.