May 13, 2011 • By

Sweet photography style

Ever wonder how Betty Crocker gets such great photos of food for her cookbooks and websites? Well, you could say that we’ve got style. Or, you could say that we’ve got stylists – like Carol Grones.

What’s your job title?

Grones: I’m a food stylist in the General Mills Photography Studios.

How long have you worked for General Mills? How did you get started?

Grones: I have been styling food for a number of years now (make that a lot of years), first as a freelance food stylist and then on staff at General Mills. It’s a great profession that is full of varied days. I style food for both editorial (cookbooks and web, for example) and packaging (think SuperMoist cake mix and Cheerios cereal).

My start came when I was working toward my food science degree at the University of Minnesota. My college advisor received a phone call from a company looking for a college intern. That intern job turned out to be the first step of my food styling journey.

Describe your typical day.

Grones: Ooh. That’s a tough one. There really isn’t such a thing! So here goes.

My day begins in the kitchen. If I am working on an editorial project, I start by preparing one of the recipes. (High quality food prep is one of the main building blocks of food styling.) After the recipe has been prepared, I move into the styling role and work with the photographer. Our prop stylist has been through earlier and has chosen plates, backgrounds, flatware, etc. for us. I “plate” the food always thinking about how the camera will see it. Then I take it out to the “set” in the studio. The photographer begins turning on the photo lights as I put on the finishing touches. We move quickly, as the food is always best when it is fresh.

Packaging projects are different than editorial in that we work with a product, not a recipe, and we prepare the food even more carefully!

What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on?

Grones: One of my most recent projects is very near and dear to my heart.

“The Big Book of Cupcakes” has been recently released. (Good news for all you cupcake lovers!) It was a three-week photo shoot here at the studios. There were between three and four of us in the kitchen daily baking cupcakes, making frostings and decorating, decorating, decorating. We made cupcakes for every season of the year, cupcakes for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, the Fourth of July and on it went. If you get a chance, follow this link for more information about the book. I think it turned out really cute!

What’s the best part of your job?

Grones: The best part about my job is that I get to make food look beautiful!

If you didn’t work at General Mills, what other job would you have?

Grones: Hmmm. Well, food styling is an art that involves many small, very controlled movements using tools like tweezers, skewers and artist’s brushes. So, I would go the opposite route and choose an art with large movements – like dance!

Editor’s note: You can see Carol in action in this video, showing some of the behind-the-scenes work on four cakes Betty Crocker produced for a recent promotion for the royal wedding.