What does a food stylist cost?

I’ve been doing food photography for a lot of years now, and I still can’t figure that out…  Because I can’t figure it out, I NEVER try to estimate the cost of a food stylist, even for the simplest of photography shoots.

The reason food stylist’s prices are so hard for me to estimate is because what they do is so complicated and changes so much from shoot to shoot.  If you ask a food stylist what she charges, she will probably give you her “day rate”.    The thing is, that you just can’t plug in that number and use it in a food photography estimate.

There are many other things that MAY or MAY NOT go into a cost of a food stylist.  Some of the other line-items that may go into the final invoice are:

Pre / Post Production Time

Pre-pro meeting
Time buying food
Prep time cooking food
Prep time buying food
Prep time shopping for props
Time Returning props
Prep time for delivering and returning props to location or studio

Stylist Assistant

Assistant’s time cooking food
Assistant’s time buying food
Assistant’s time shopping for props
Assistant’s time returning props

Shooting Fees

Time for Shoot Day
Assistant (s) for shoot day

Other Fees

Prop Rental
Food costs
Shipping or delivery of exotic food props
Overtime for long shoot days

These are just the things I could think of off the top of my head.  Like I said, I never try to estimate a price for a food stylist.  Her “day rate” is just a starting point.