Food Stylist Yuli Maria:
Maintaining creativity, Staying ahead of the trend

For some simple styling, food photographers may be able do it themselves, however if the demand of the customers is more complex, this would require a food stylist. Yuli Maria, 33, is one of the few local food stylists, her job is to give food a “make up”, so that they appear tempting and delicious before the lenses.

To present the food styling
To recall the process that she enters this profession, Yuli cheerfully stated that she ended up as a food stylist by chance. Yuli originally managed a F&B business, eventualy the business folded after various mishaps. Left without choice, Yuli can only look for a new job, she applied to be an F&B writer from a larger publisher, unexpectedly the publisher’s test was for Yuli to demonstrate food styling. Although Yuli has no prior experience nor preparation, the food styling she presented won her publisher head’s heart. Yuli said, “The boss said she spent many years trying to find a qualified food stylist, but to no avail. After seeing my food styling, she thought I was very suitable for the job. Although it wasn’t the position that I applied, I accepted it anyway.”

Due to the publisher’s many food magazines and books, Yuli’s workload was very heavy, she needed to prepare almost 20 stylings a day, which causes her daily working hours to often exceeds 12 hours. After two years honing her skill, Yuli’s husband was sent to Singapore by his company, she decided to resign and follow her husband. When Yuli arrived in Singapore, she realised that food styling has always been at the back of her mind, she decided to make a comeback.

Yuli revealed, her main jobs come from advertising, on average she receives two cases a week. Before the shootings, with the customers she has to communicate, conceptualise design and prepare the materials and props for the shooting, this process is time consuming. “When some photographer found out that my charges were similar to their’s, they do find it surprising. I would tell them, when you look at the effects on the photo you’ll know the difference.” Yuli said with a confident smile. She has received work invitation from India, China and even Iraq. However she has to decline the offers as her husband is worried with her abroad on her own.

Still presentation of food with creative means
Food photographer and food stylist often face a challenge; how to continuously surprise with creativity to present food in still images.

Yuli expressed, her creative inspiration came from all aspects: When she travels overseas she would taste the local gourmet, whe she sees good food styling she would photograph them for record, she also often read foreign magazines on fashion and food to obtain the latest information on the latest trend. Yuli said, “I don’t like to design the same food styling for every customer, every styling has to be different. I try my best to stay ahead of the trend on food styling, things that others has not try, I’d like to experiment them. I have to maintain creativity, or my work would lose its colour.”

When asked some techniques on food styling, Yuli laughed saying that it is trade secret, can’t share them too much. But she did divulged some little secret, “when capturing cold drinks, I would spray some water-glycerin mixture on the outside of the glass, this would allow the droplet formation effect more lasting. When capturing salad, I would stuff tissue papers, it helps to enhance it’s beautiful shape.”

Chanel U: Food Specialist
Yuli Maria (Food Stylist)

Media Portfolio
Video courtesy of Chanel U – Food Specialist Ep 3