Food Stylist: Lisa Kuehl

Chicago Based Food Stylist

Lisa Kuehl

How did you get into styling?
I got started when I came back from living in California with my ex husband, I was in the process of a divorce and trying to figure out what I was going to do since I was a teacher of the culinary arts in California and was not even going to attempt to go back to restaurant life. I have a cousin who is a photographer and was doing free lance work for magazines like time out Chicago, Chicago Magazine and I had not much to do yet in means of a job so she offered to use me as her assistant meaning just keep her company and my mind off my struggling life HA! So she took me to Time Out where I met the editor and she gave us a tour of the set up of the magazine and she explained they also do some food styling! I have known of food styling since I was in culinary school but had no real luck breaking threw to actually work in the industry. She basically said its real simple food styling. I was like well if its just presentation I would love to do it and she agreed to use me and my first shoot for only $150.00 was 2 page spread and making connections. I have been doing it ever since and its been 8 years.

What was your first real break-through job?
I really can't say what was my big break of a job? Maybe when a film studio like Big Deahl hired me at a real assistant position, then I was in and when a food stylist named Karen Robinson took me under her wing and brought me in under her and thats was when I really was now a real food stylist assistant.

Where are some places you have traveled to for work?
I have not been as international as some long time food stylist. I have been to Detroit, Phoenix, and Madison IL! I am sure that will change.

Who has been your inspiration for styling?
My inspiration I would have to say is Donna Hay, she is a Australian stylist and I have been a huge fan of her work since culinary school. Super clean and modern and not tremendously over styled.

What is the hardest thing you have styled?
Ice Cream!! It is a specialty and very hard to perfect.

Is a lot of your work word of mouth or is marketing yourself a big tool?
Yes! A lot of word of mouth and networking in the sense of keeping in the loop with photographers and chatting up the clients so they remember you. Its a lot of what kind of person you are as well as your work. People like to work with stylist who are not difficult or divas lol...not naming names.

Must have tool on set.
We all who are stylist have there own kit or tools and depending on the kind of job you might need more and then you can charge kit fees. For instance, if a client has no real kitchen or the photographer then you need to bring things that would be necessary to do the job other that the basic tool kit equipment.

Any tips you could share for food stylists starting out?
My advice for those looking to get into food styling, it’s really hard but just try to connect and offer free services to be able to just get in and luck. Stylist usually have there favorites and they know how the stylist like things and they have already made a bond and the stylist trust them with shopping and detail to work and product.