If you’re a foodie like us, then you probably follow one (or a hundred) Instagram accounts that fill your feed daily with drool-inducing images. You might have even tried replicating some of them yourself. Somehow, you just can’t get your bowl of ramen to look half as good. Ever wonder how these Instagrammers manage to take such perfect pictures?
Here are seven quirky tips that might sound a little strange or bizarre, but are guaranteed to help you nail that perfect #foodporn shot.
1. Soft, Natural Light Is Your Friend
You’ve probably heard this before: soft daylight is the best lighting for food (or any) photographs. So if you want to take advantage of the best lighting conditions you can get, always ask to be seated at a table that is close to a window or door. If your dining companions get suspicious of your need to always be seated by a window, tell them that you simply like watching the world go by while sipping on your cuppa.
2. Stuck in the Dark but You’re My Flashlight
Cr: Tom’s Guide
We’ve all tried taking a picture in a candlelit dining room. And when we can’t seem to get enough light, we turn on the flash, and voila! Your picture turns out dull and flat, so you give up and dig in before your White Alba Truffle Risotto gets cold. Sounds familiar?
If your cell phone’s flash won’t cut it, why not ask your friends to turn on their cell phone’s flashlight and hold it above your food instead? Lighting a little too harsh now? Simply put a thin napkin between the light source and your food, to diffuse the light and get it just right. Want a more even lighting? Always keep a piece of paper or a sheet of aluminium foil (essentially a makeshift bounce card) in your handbag or backpack. By placing your makeshift bounce card on the shaded side of your dish, you can brighten up the dark areas and soften the shadows of your food!
3. Light Up Your Drink
You know how we suggested using a friend’s cell phone flashlight to light your food from above? The same trick can be used to illuminate your drink (It goes without saying that this only works with beverages served in glassware. Duh.) by lighting it from the side or behind! The waitstaff might think that you’re checking the drink for impurities but what you’re really getting is a beautiful glow ‒ which really highlights the effervescence in a fizzy drink ‒ that you usually see in those slick Coca-Cola commercials. Pro tip: a pinch of salt right before you take your picture, reinvigorates the bubbles in carbonated beverages like beer, champagne, and sodas.
4. Look Alive!
Food is alive and sensual, so it goes without saying that it doesn’t always have to sit perfectly still either. You can show it being sliced, served, with a bite taken out of it, or held out to the camera. And contrary to what you might think, the perfect #foodporn shot doesn’t necessarily mean that the picture of your food should only be taken the way the chef intended it to look. So don’t worry about that lime wedge that is slightly off-kilter after your waiter brought your fish tacos to you, or that you have water rings dotting the table which your egg benedict is sitting on. In fact, professional food photographers have stylists that create these “imperfections” in order to make a scene more realistic ‒ case in point, a slightly messy table top with a summer barbecue spread suggests an epic get-together with family or friends.
So go ahead, embrace the chaos, and stand out from the sea of “perfect” food images (Disclaimer: we are not encouraging you to make a mess at your table). These “action” shots and “imperfections” are guaranteed to add a certain je ne sais quoi to your feed.
5. Pops Of Colour
Not every restaurant or cafe has gorgeous marble counters, colourful plates, or a stunning feature wall to add colour to your #foodpic. But fret not, you can always introduce colour to your photo via other ways.
Having spaghetti bolognese? Ask the staff for a couple of sprigs of parsley and some extra shaved parmesan cheese to add life to your brown-hued plate. Dining out with a friend who’s got nicely manicured nails, or multi-coloured bracelets and rings? Get them to hold your plate of food or cup of coffee. Getting some ice cream? Always, ALWAYS ask for sprinkles on top (only if it makes sense of course. You can’t have rainbow sprinkles on a scoop of Mao Shan Wang ice cream. Or can you? Hmm…).
6. Show Your Good Side
Everyone has a “good side” when it comes to taking pictures, so it’s no surprise that different foods will look their best at different angles. Food with height (like burgers and sandwiches) are best photographed from the side, so you can better see all the glorious layers and textures; while two-dimensional options (like açaí bowls and pizzas) look best in overhead shots.
The rules aren’t exactly fixed, so always take pictures from different angles and also play with both landscape and portrait modes in order to choose the best image. This might require you to stand on a chair for the ultimate flat lay shot of your brunch, or for you to squat in front of a tiled counter to get the perfect backdrop for your ice cream. Either way, get comfortable with the judgemental stares and finger-pointing because it’s all worth it for the Gram!
If you’ve tried all our tips so far and still have friends or a partner who’s willing to dine out with you, cherish them because you’ve found a keeper, and you’re going to need to borrow their phone again…
Besides experimenting with angles, ever thought of experimenting with frames? Well, instead of taking a photo of your food, the most meta thing that you can do is to take a picture of YOURSELF taking a picture of YOUR food. And it would really help if you or your friend has a colourful cell phone cover (no cracked cell phone screen protectors please!), or if one of you has nicely painted nails or accessories to boot. You will also want to pay attention to what is within the frames of your photos. And if the shot is too hard to nail, involve the afore-mentioned friend and get them to frame the food shot, while you take the phone-ception shot.
Oh, and make sure that your Instagram page is visible to the public so that your picture will be part of the collage.
*By posting your picture(s) on Instagram with the hashtag #ChopeBites, you consent to your photos being used in the Food Collage, as well as for other Chope marketing campaigns, including (but not limited to) both online and offline collaterals and editorials.