10 Tips: Taking Food Pics for Instagram

Instagram food pics these days look like these super professional photographs that are enhanced and perfected.  Yet, most Grammers are only using their mobile devices and utilizing filters and other available tools.  How do they do it?  Here are some tips…

1. Get in Close

Don’t stand too far away from the object.  Sometimes you want to really get up in there.  
Often times I don’t even stress getting the entire dish in the pic.

2. Overhead vs angle

Some will tell you the overhead is the best way to go but I don’t always find that to be true.  I am a big fan of the angle but it depends on the lighting.  I tend to follow this rule (that I made up) natural for overhead; artificial for angles but I don’t even follow that to the letter. 
These are both natural light so you can see the difference in angle v overhead.

3. Pay attention to your background

Surround with other items that make sense (and sometimes that don’t – be creative).
Try a photo outside or with different backgrounds (hardwood, tile, marble, tablecloth) and be careful of too many colors.
You are highlighting the food which should have a good amount of color itself, no need to add a lot of other color if that’s the case.

4. Plating 

So, full disclosure – I am NOT an expert in plating.  I like my audience to feel un-intimidated by my recipes so they are made and presented simply.  That said, here are a few things I do know… soup shots can have a little detailed purposeful messiness – a drip of soup somewhere that gives it a homey feel but a messy plate with food just dropped on it or with drippings and smudges is a huge no.  Clean it up.  Channel your inner Pin-Goddess and look for ideas for plating on Pinterest.  Your lighting, angles, and recipe won’t make a bit of a difference if your plate is a hot mess.

5. Stacking & portion

You can always try stacking your bowl or plate with other bowls and plates for creativity.
I often will use a very small portion in a smaller dish and then stack it with larger for depth. In this picture, you can see I used a tiny bowl for the gazpacho.

6. Get out of the pic

Your smiling face looking up at the camera while close to a plate of food is often not a good look for you or your dish.  If your hand has to be in the photo, make sure it’s manicured (polish not necessary). A camera will pick up on unkempt cuticles and jagged nails.  Don’t stand too close when snapping a shot – your shoes could photobomb you.

7. Get in the pic

(Ok, that’s not me – or anything like me but you see the point)
Sometimes being in the photo does indeed work.  But only if it is not a selfie.  Enlist someone to take photos of you cooking the food or appropriately smelling it (by wafting, don’t stick your face in) or holding the dish with your best apron on.

8. Flash

Rarely, if ever, do you need to use flash on your phone.
It makes such a difference when you don’t.

9. Artificial Lighting 

Morning sunlight is, indeed, the best for photos but let’s be realistic, you are not getting up at dawn to make a caramelized plum tart just to get a good pic.   The best lighting is overhead and fairly close.  A simple desk lamp could be your best friend but get the right bulb.  I suggest a compact fluorescent bulb and if you want to really be fancy, try three-point lighting.  A lot of bloggers use a studio kit and I’ve tried that but I never really find the time after cooking to get it set up and go through the trouble (plus, see my next tip) – we want to eat!  

10. My best personal tip

Invest in an iPhone X or whatever the latest model is.  Not an iPhone user?  Get whatever top of line Samsung or whatever is available.  I have never taken better photos, easier.  All of the pics here are unfiltered and shot with my iPhone.  Nuff’ said.

Bonus tip – Don’t obsess.  Take a bunch of shots, sure, but don’t get crazy.  For one, you are going to use a filter when you post to IG anyway (marketing tip: always use a filter) and second, the lifespan of your photo being seen is short lived anway.   Choose which feels right and go for it.  This is supposed to be fun but if you start to feel stressed, you will post less and only be left frustrated.

 

 

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