STW Challenge for May: Bring the Flowers (and herbs and other little touches)


This month, let’s focus on a styling technique… specifically garnishes. Little garnishes can make a simple scene elegant, but lots of garnish can quickly turn it into a chaotic mess. A garnish should always relate back to the dish, and help clue the eater (or the viewer) into some subtle flavor, aroma or color.

Herbs, of course, make great garnishes, if they are used in the preparation. Herbs should always, always be added at the last possible second because they wilt so quickly. I like to keep my herbs standing upright in a little vase or bowl of water, like they were bouquets of flowers. Room temperature is fine, but you want to pick the herbs or get them from the store the same day you are photographing them if at all possible. Fresh basil seems to be the most susceptible to going limp… if you can get “live” basil at the store (it’s a single, small basil plant in a little ice-cube sized chunk of dirt), it will last you about a week and you can just pick off leaves as needed for the most perfect basil garnishes.

My most recent obsession are edible flowers. Only recently, I discovered that one of my favorite spring flowers, lilac, is edible. Flowers can be tossed on fresh for garnish of savory dishes. For sweet dishes, you will likely want to candy (or crystalize) the flowers, as many of them (lilac included) have a bit of bitterness fresh. Candying flowers is somewhat time consuming, detailed work, but it does yield great results. There’s a good how-to on Martha Stewart.

Of course, garnishes don’t have to be plants… icing details, a stripe of sauce, latte art, a perfect dollop of whip cream or even a silky ribbon are all great garnish examples.

The usual rules and are up on the Flickr group… the things like be constructive, take the photos during the month if possible, 3 photos per person and the last day will be around May 31st, give or take a few days.

We had a huge number of entries for Think Pink! Thanks to everyone who participated! I think it was a great round!

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0 thoughts on “STW Challenge for May: Bring the Flowers (and herbs and other little touches)

  1. Hi Lee,

    Sure! I guess I should have linked to the recipe, but the pastry cream in the trifle is actually lilac-infused. The lilacs on top are also edible… they are candied.


  2. Hi.

    I just found your site and …. I am super-amazed by your work ! I love food photography and currently trying my best to learn the works. But, it’s not really going anywhere since I can’t really relate to anyone. I am hoping to get some guidance from you ….

  3. hi l,

    i love your photography! it always picks me up. i’m no pro photographer (and such an expensive hobby) but i’m very inspired when i look at your art. so thanks

  4. Styling is such a curious thing, something I haven’t thought a lot about before, but the more pictures I see, the more I come to understand that everything is there for a reason. There are so many clever ways of presenting food for a picture and that little extra just makes the image pop. Thanks for all your tips.

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