Flavours of Life: How I Found my Food-Photography Style

One of the best things about being a blogger is reaching out and making connections with others in the field.  I had the great fortune to stumble across the work of Virpi Larmila, a food and lifestyle photographer from Finland.  She works with the “chiaroscuro” style of photography (a style that emphasises darkness, shadow and light) and her pictures are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  But what is absolutely INCREDIBLE is that she has no fancy photographic equipment; all her pictures are shot on her Samsung Galaxy!!

Virpi has agreed to write this post just for Food Blogging Collective, telling us all about her food-photography style, her inspiration – and food!

You can follow Virpi on Instagram @storm_and_clay.  I highly recommend that you do.

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I’ve always been a very visual person. It’s funny that I even ended up working with words and writing at all, because the actual question I’ve always been looking for an answer to is “how does everything look?”. I decorated my own room when I was 4 and had art exhibitions at our house for neighbourhood kids before pre-school.

All pictures are by Virpi Larmila

Food, glorious food

My first contact with food photography wasn’t so long ago.  I had stayed home after having my second baby boy in June 2016 and badly needed something to do.  When my kids were napping, I liked to treat myself with a lovely snack or coffee, and style the dish as prettily as possible.

Then, I would take a picture and post it to Instagram.  I found out two things: 1) my phone had an excellent camera and 2) people really liked my pics.

It was very rewarding!

My equipment

All my pictures have been taken with my Samsung Galaxy.  I don’t have a home studio – only a piece of black fabric in case I have to cover something in the background.  Normally, I don’t use that either.  My house has lots of rich tones, and it’s ideal for dark and moody photography.  I just cook and shoot.

My props

My most precious Sunday pleasure is to hit the fleamarkets and look for lovely old plates, spoons and cups.  I don’t find new dishes appealing at all and don’t spend money on design.  Old dishes tell stories of their own and look fabulous with linen or pieces of old newspaper.  My spoons have seen more life that I have – and I find this very comforting.  I just lay things out by instinct; I don’t like staging very much.

My style

When I edit my pictures, I normally add some structure and highlights.  I like warm, earthy tones, and that rustic feeling, so I don’t cook bright dishes.  I admire Italian and Spanish dishes and food bloggers, too!  A glass of wine and a piece of bread can be the most beautiful thing in the world.  I have just developed my own starter as I love to bake sourdough bread.  Bread is my favourite food to shoot at the moment.

My life

All my pictures are born in real life – not made for artistic purposes.  Of course, all this has made me hungry for more and I do bake a lot more now than I used to!

Q&A with Virpi

#1 What was the first food you ever photographed?

I think it was cookies and milk!

#2 How did you come to love dark and moody photography?

It has been an “inner calling” for my husband and me. We both have restless minds and vivid imaginations: I write (I’m a news journalist by day) and he designs video games. When we moved in together (before we had kids), a dark home interior was an obvious choice.  I need my home to calm me down.

#3 Do you have any tips for people who would like to try this style of photography?

If you love it, it will come naturally. Be brave and think rustic. It’s not supposed to be too clean and nice.

Thanks, Virpi 🙂

How’s your food photography?

Ready to take your own skills up a notch?  Get my free 5-day “Improve Your Food Photography” challenge by email!



Check out some of these other articles to inspire you!

Food Photography 101

Top Tips to take your Food Photography to the Next Level

Behind the Scenes of a Food-Photography Shoot

What’s your food-photography style?


  1. pituitary says:

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  2. Jeanette says:

    I like this style more and more and wish to create rustic/moody photos for my bake and dessert blog.
    My home is not white and bright, like to have it cozy with a little rustic Scandinavian style as our house is old. Now I’ve tried to create bright photos for my recipes, but want to change and learn this style instead 🙂

    • Editor says:

      Chiaroscuro is perfect for that! And you’ll get your best pictures if you make the most of what you’ve got rather than fighting it with light anyway. Good luck with it! I’d love to see some photos 🙂

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