Since its inception in 2010, over 40 billion photos and videos have been shared on Instagram, with swelling numbers of people documenting their #foodventures online. Our growling stomachs at midnight are very dismayed.
But, who says you have to own a DSLR or be a professional photographer to capture stunning food shots worthy of that double-tap? If you’re looking for tips to up your Instagram game, be it with a phone or a fancy cam, we’ve got yo’ back.
DO: Use props to tell a story
Using suitable props helps add visual interest to your image, and tell a story. For example, in the left image above, the potted plant in the foreground, and utensils and chair in the background help set the scene for the rainbow cheese toast – the image’s focal point. Without the need for a caption, they tell us that the toast was consumed in a rustic, laidback cafe. The image transports the viewer to the scene and evokes feelings of tranquility.
DON’T: Clutter your shots with irrelevant items
That having been said, do not overdo it and add unnecessary items to the shot. Doing so will only add visual clutter and distract the viewer from the image’s subject. Things like used tissue paper and random scraps of paper? Remove them; they only make your image appear messy.
DO: Use natural lighting
Lighting is very important in photography. As much as possible, use natural light to allow the colours of your food to pop. Artificial lights tend to create harsh shadows and colour casts. For example, the above image on the right was taken in a night market in Malaysia with bad lighting, giving the photo an unappealing yellowish hue. For the best food photos, take them in soft, diffused, and neutral-coloured lighting.
DON’T: Use your smartphone camera’s flash
If you’ve taken a picture using your iPhone flash in a dimly lit restaurant, you’ll know exactly what I mean! Using a flash results in uneven, harsh lighting, leaving your photos underexposed at certain parts, and overexposed at others.
iPhone Tip: When taking photos in a low-light setting, besides tapping on the photo to increase the brightness of your subject, you can also increase your screen’s brightness. This will help to brighten the image on the whole without overexposing other elements in your photo.
(Of course, if you have a loyal crew, you might be able to make it work.)
the team helped me out with good lighting to take a nice pic of me eating pizza pic.twitter.com/dZdYa11Yep
— jane (@jaanemao) December 4, 2016
DO: Post-process your photos
Giving your images a little boost with minor colour-corrections and touch-ups will help to clean up, enhance, and give them a professional look. Doing so will also help to bring out the colours of the food, create mood, and improve your images’ composition. You don’t have to use professional software like Lightroom or Photoshop. Popular smartphone applications such as VSCO, Snapseed, and Afterlight have a comprehensive range of features and settings enough to transform your raw pictures into masterpieces.
It’s tempting to add filters to your pictures, however, be cautious of layering on too many of them as this will take the focus away from the food. Overediting will also result in unnatural photos and colours. For example, the image on the above right is oversaturated, resulting in an unappetizing and garish image which screams fake.
DO: Think about your angles
Don’t worry if you’re not a professional photographer. Simply play around and explore different perspectives to find the one that best compliments and highlights the features of the particular dish you are shooting. If you’re looking to emphasize the variety, amount, and arrangement of food, then shooting from a top-down angle aka a flat-lay is your best bet.
DON’T: Stick to the same angle
While a top-down angle is great for emphasizing the top surfaces of your subject(s), it won’t work for all types of food shots. For example, in the image on the right above, what you’re looking to highlight is the fluffiness of the bread and the coconut filling packed within. To do so, tear one bun in half to reveal its cross-section, and shoot from the side. Tearing (instead of cutting) the bun will add textures and layers to your shot, adding visual complexity.
Now you’re all set to live your best #foodporn life!