When I style my food photography I tend to keep things simple—usually it’s just the main food item and some silverware off to the side. I do like to add elements to the scene at times, but when I do I always make sure that the items in the scene are relevant to the dish. I place things in the frame as if I were sitting down to a meal … in this photo it would be perfectly natural to have a glass of water and some french bread on a plate, so adding them to the scene does not take away from the image I’m trying to create.
When you’re styling and adding props to your food images try to stay away from adding ingredients used to make the food next to the dish (like uncut fruits/veggies, eggs, etc.), unless you are photographing the actual prepping of the food itself. I’m sure there are ways to make these items “work” in an image, but most of the attempts I see just don’t look natural. Just do what I do … picture yourself sitting at the table and think of what makes sense to have nearby.
Food looks more appetizing if it seems “ready to eat” … you want your viewers to think that he or she could reach in and take the first bite. If you really want to add color and throw some of those ingredients in the shot, then do some prep-work to them and make them look tasty! A whole tomato doesn’t have as much appeal as one that’s sliced into bite-sized wedges, all juicy and ripe. Yum!