Food stylists are an interesting lot – I say this because I’ve been one for more than twenty years now and have some firsthand experience at being a little odd. While there are a few of us that enjoy being overly competitive and a few others that don’t play well with other stylists on set, for the most part, we’re all an affable bunch. What might come as a surprise to a lot of people, is the fact that we often refer each other for work – usually when we’re too booked to take another job, it’s way over our heads, or occasionally when the shoot involves something we’re not comfortable styling. My personal Achilles heel just happens to be latte art (sorry Desiree and Brent, I’m still regretting that one fateful shoot). Other stylists avoid ice cream styling like the plague. Happily, I’m one of the few who are just neurotic enough to enjoy scooping and finessing ice cream all day long. And a few of my contemporaries are happy to send those inquiries my way when they come in.
I felt particularly fortunate one Spring day when I received just such a referral for a St. Louis Magazine cover shoot. Kevin Roberts, a staff photographer with the publication, had been given my name by one of my friendly rivals. I jumped at the opportunity, grabbed my scoops, and headed to the Baked Bear on Delmar Blvd in the famed St. Louis Loop neighborhood one cool morning. The Baked Bear is a small scoop shop with decidedly unique flavors and toppings, and we were charged with creating an ice cream cone that captured the spirit of the store’s offerings.
Styling a single scoop on a cone can be a slight challenge, but I was asked to put together a three-scoop cone and place it into the stand Kevin had provided to keep it steady while he adjusted the lighting and captured the shot. It took a few tries and a few tricks up my sleeve to get it just right, but I think the final image came out great! There’s no doubt that the scoops represent the unique nature of the store, and adequately demonstrated the magazine’s desire to promote ice cream just in time for their June issue. We managed to get a little melt and softness in all the right areas so no one could accuse me of using fake ice cream.
I managed to send my fellow food stylist a reciprocal referral a short time later. We’re like family after all, and we need to help each other out from time to time.