The talented styling & photography duo, Sibylle and Sue of Comme Soie share with us their process, and how they are naturally guided by color and texture when capturing their alluring style of food concepts. To learn more, visit their website, full of visual inspiration and recipes to make your mouth water!
Tell us a little about yourself.
We are Sibylle & Sue, a stylist and photography team, but more accurately we are dear friends, who share a passion for food, photography and all things beautiful. Inspired by the simplicity of nature, we strive to embrace natural light and earthy materials in all our work. We create food concepts, that include food styling and food photography. While we love capturing the vitality of delicious food, we also believe in showing the story behind it: the farmers that grow it, the chefs that carefully prepare it and the people that gather around the table together to enjoy it.
With years of experience and a professional background in visual concepts, styling, and photography, our mission is to make food look picture perfect.
We love your approach to "storytelling" when styling and photographing. While your focus is food, this can translate to any genre. What tips would you give in setting up the story you want to capture?
An atmospheric colour palette is the basis of all our shootings. Harmoniously opposing colors give a picture conciseness and tempt the eye to linger. Complementary colours or soft tone-in-tone photos have a very atmospheric effect. Less is more - one or two colours in focus have a stronger effect than several that overload the image and make it lose its expressiveness. A few antique props, a natural incidence of light and an exciting composition do the rest. The courage to move out of the golden ratio of the picture makes a huge difference. We love how an image can take you to places beyond imagination. This is exactly what we live for, to surprise our clients with the unexpected.
As a duo, how do you balance your tasks and work together? Do each of you have separate roles or do you overlap? We’ve heard partnerships are like marriages, would you agree?
Sibylle usually does the concept of the shoot, develops the recipes and does all the baking and cooking. Sue does the concept of the colors, props, backgrounds and of course photography and post-production. Sometimes we just try something very spontaneously and work with what we’ve got. The styling part on set we usually do together. And also the eating part of all the delicious food. ☺
When you are styling a shoot, how do you know you’ve set the stage for that “perfect shot”? Is this something you know before you take the shot or after?
We do not always have the desired picture in mind in advance. We like to go on Pinterest for some inspiration. But also beautiful props can create the idea for the "perfect" picture in our head. However, we prefer to be guided and inspired during the shoot. The set is sometimes created spontaneously and intuitively. We look for props colours matching the food and complete the overall picture step by step. In retrospect, it is a nice surprise and often exciting to see what has emerged from it. Our advice would be to go as freely as possible at it and to combine different colors and textures to see what works and how the effect of the overall picture changes. It also helps to look at the picture on the computer to see what exactly gave the picture its tension and vitality. Is it the beautiful antique pan? The flowing silk cloth? The rustic natural thread or the contrasting incidence of light? The more conscious we become of the individual elements and their effects, the more confident we become and know how to implement them in our work.
You have a way of evoking the taste of the food through the pictures you take. Are there certain tricks to making food look delicious?
Oh yeah of course. There are a few simple tricks to make food appear fresh and delicious: a little brush of olive oil adds shine and juiciness, a water diffuser wets vegetables and fruit and makes them look oh so fresh and just harvested, a dash of icing sugar completes the homemade freshly baked look. In relation to the overall picture, we pay attention to flowing elements. This is one of the main reasons we like to work with Silk & Willow silk scarves and ribbons. They really awaken our images and give beautiful textures. In addition, we like to drizzle some salt, berries or sugar all over our sets and let the pictures speak for themselves.
In addition to your food styling and photography offerings, you also share the tasty recipes to many of the dishes you photograph. Is that something you did before the styling part of your business or something that came later?
Yes, we’ve always been into cooking and baking. Growing up our mom’s thought us a lot and nowadays we love to host dinners for friends. This has always been a huge part of our lives and is actually the reason why we started Comme Soie.
What are your favorite types of foods to work with?
Sweets for sure. Everything from cakes, cookies and anything with melted chocolate can always be presented in a beautiful way. But also the beauty of a simple shot with fresh farmer’s market vegetables and fruit with the greens still on surprise us again and again.
How do you feed your creativity?
We love to stroll flea markets, farmer’s markets here in Switzerland or in foreign countries. But we’re also inspired by nature in all its facets and colours. And of course, we value the exchange with other creative people very much who spark new ideas and motivation to work on our portfolio.