Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk

|||Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk

Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk

By |2019-01-12T16:16:25+00:00June 4th, 2010|Categories: Tips & Tricks|Tags: |17 Comments

Food styling is all about making food look delicious. I do my best to try and make food look natural, fresh and clean, and sometimes that involves adding elements that you wouldn’t necessarily eat. I usually don’t do anything “unnatural” to my food when I’m styling it, but do have a few tricks I use that you wouldn’t normally do when you’re preparing food to eat.

In this shot I needed to “bulk up” the pasta so it would look like a nice heaping bowl of food. In order to do this I added a half-dome of styrofoam (you can find these at craft stores—I got a styrofoam sphere at Michaels near the floral department and then cut it in half to fit the bowl). For the actual shot I trimmed the base of it down a little bit from what you see in the image on the left, and then piled the pasta directly on top. If I had placed the pasta directly in the bowl it would sit flat, and I wouldn’t get the nice bulkiness that the fully-styled image is showing.

About the Author:

Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer and published author whose love of photography and teaching has grown into an online business where she creates training materials and resources for other photographers. Nicole is best known for her books on food photography, but is widely versed in a variety of photographic genres, including landscape, travel, lifestyle, and even underwater photography. You can learn more about Nicole's work on her website,


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicole S. Young, Simon Hucko. Simon Hucko said: RT @nicolesy: New at "Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk" #food #photography […]

  2. Raymond Siu June 4, 2010 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Great tip! Michaels is a great resource for all photographers. Especially their weekly deals on framing!

  3. Cookie June 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tip!

  4. Sweet Pea Chef June 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    This is a useful little tip. Thanks for sharing.

  5. […] Nicolesy Blog » Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk […]

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  7. Madura June 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    i guess an inverted bowl/small plate would do the same thing. good idea.

  8. bee June 6, 2010 at 11:18 am - Reply

    That’s a cool idea! Thanks a lot for this tip!

  9. Shannon June 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    My Mom used to style food for a photographer in the 50’s. One hint I remember was how to make soup seem so full of veggies, noodles, etc… She put clear marbles on the bottom of the bowl and that would lift the soups’ contents to the surface.

    Great hint, Nicole!

  10. Jacki June 7, 2010 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for this tip…I often wonder how to get my pastas and things to look fresh and full, and not just laying in the bowl unappetizing.

  11. Chocolate Shavings June 9, 2010 at 2:29 am - Reply

    I’ve been using this method for a while and it really does help!

  12. […] Nicolesy Blog » Food Styling Tip: Use Styrofoam to Add Bulk […]

  13. […] the bowl so your food doesn’t sit too flat. I’ve written about this before with pasta (link here) but you don’t always need to use a piece of styrofoam to add that bulk. That stuff can get […]

  14. TripleScoop March 14, 2011 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Good stuff. Can’t wait to learn more tips and tricks…any suggestion on photographing real ice cream? (none of that fake ice cream made from mash potatoes or shortening)

    • Nicole March 14, 2011 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I’ve never styled real ice cream before so I don’t have personal experience with it. I would suggest being very quick with the photography and use a stand-in ahead of time to get the light and composition set up before the ice cream is ready to shoot. Good luck :)

  15. Brycia March 15, 2011 at 7:20 am - Reply

    I use an inverted clear glass prep bowl when I need to add more volume. You can get them in different sizes to adjust the amount of volume you need. That way the food is still good to eat after the shoot, with no styrofoam crumbs. : )

  16. Lauren @ Part Time House Wife July 10, 2012 at 12:50 am - Reply

    Im loving that I came across your blog. I’m learning so much and I’ve only read 2 articles. I like the idea of the foam… I’ve wadded up napkins under sauces and food to give the same affect.

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