9 Tips on How to Take Insta-Worthy Food Photos
Instagram and food go hand-in-hand. The photo-driven app has become an extra appetiser before every meal; first the camera, then the fork. Us Australians love to share their food. When it comes to social media and the rest of the world, platforms are swarming with photos of plates carefully styled and dripping with all things delicious. Let’s face it, sometimes food is just too gorgeous not to share!
Food pornography. It’s a thing. No longer is it a fringe activity either. What was once reserved for professional photographers has made its way to the dark corner of a bar, at-home dining or a restaurant/café where average consumers are snapping up their #foodporn for everyone to get a taste of their latest meal. Now, Australian food Instagrammers are stepping up their game with galleries loaded with drool-worthy, jaw-droppingly good food. And equally great photos to feast your eyes upon. Want to know the secrets behind the deliciously tasty food photos? We chat to local food bloggers to find out their tips for Insta-worthy food photos:
1. Add Movement to Your Food
According to Martin from Morsels, adding action to your food can change the dynamics of the photo. “Movements such as lifting noodles from a bowl with chopsticks or holding a burger can make your shots more interesting”. Not only is this technique fun to experiment with, but it helps to capture the process of your cooking or baking story. Simple actions like pouring syrup over a stack of pancakes or squeezing lemon onto a freshly made bowl of salad give photos an energetic vibe which fans can better engage in.
Use a tripod and adjust the shutter speed to what you want to capture. To freeze the moment in time, a slow shutter speed is best. Getting a friend to help is ideal too. “Find a winning hand model and make them your regular +1”, suggests Martin.
2. Don’t Just Rely on Auto
Getting to really know the camera or smartphone you’re working with is important too. “If you’re using an SLR or mirrorless camera, learn the basics of ISO, aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. Don’t just rely on auto!”, recommends Martin. “Take a willing shot when others can’t even get a bad one by knowing how to be creative in low light with the right settings”.
3. It’s all about the Lighting
Natural light is a food Instagrammers best friend so where possible, take food photos outside. If you’re shooting at home, turn off interior lights to alleviate shadows and allow the subject to really shine. Amanda from The Chef, his Wife and their Perthfect Life says that lighting is everything. “I brunch and lunch a lot, and not just because I love smashed avo! Natural lighting creates the best environment for a drool-worthy food pic. Forget the flash”.
If your only option is to eat indoors, choose a spot by the window to get plenty of soft, natural light. Place your food-feast closest to the window to encourage the natural light to cascade across the dish. Doing this from the side instead of from behind the food will eliminate the photo turning out too dark. Avoid harsh direct sunlight outside by shooting in shady areas.
4. Imperfect is Often Perfect
Some of the tastiest looking, mind-blowingly awesome food photos on Instagram are perfect because of their imperfection. Little ‘flaws’ can add a touch of realness to an image; character that may not be achieved otherwise. Don’t be afraid to leave the crumbs and dollops of sauce across the plate. They’re authentic and scrumptious! Great food is messy, drippy and oozy.
You don’t need to fit everything perfectly inside the frame either. Get close to the subject and allow its tastiness to fill or exceed the brims of the photo. This will make your photo look more visually interesting, and helps to draw the eye to the main subject. Take advantage of design ideas like the rule of thirds or leading lines to serve as inspiration too.
5. Don’t Forget to Use Props
Backgrounds and props add character and dimension to your food photos. Whilst you want to let the deliciousness of your recipe speak for itself, utilising a few extras can up the style. Beautiful bowls, wooden boards or vintage-inspired pieces can make for good food photography props. Keep props and background choice simple though. Too much decoration decreases the photo’s strength and can make take away from the focal point.
Including yourself (or your hands) in the photo can give it a different, and sometimes more interesting, look too. Consider the story you want to tell with the image and how additional props or background choice reflect this. If your passion is to inspire others to cook, putting your hands in the photo can make the image more relatable to its audience. Pick a background that complements the colours and ingredients in the dish, without taking it away. Neutral colours work best.
6. Experiment with Different Angles
The angle you’re shooting from is usually determined by the food you’re photographing. Experimenting with different angles is a great way to work out your style though. Don’t be afraid of close ups. Close ups are a great technique for enhancing the food and boosting visual appeal. Take a bite of the food to highlight all its deliciousness too! A close-up photo of the yolk oozing out of a burger will look much more appetising than a boring old poached egg.
Shooting overhead can give good results and eliminates the need for background props for a minimalistic approach. Move the plate around, meet your food at a 30-45 degree angle from the side or shoot from a bird’s eye view to developing a style that works for you. If the backyard scenery is worth putting into the photo, shoot the food from the side to get the picturesque feel happening.
7. Tell a Story
The best part of a well-created photo is that it tells a story. The old saying a picture speaks a thousand words is what drives photo-based social media channels like Instagram – so make sure your food pics do the same. Make your photos personal. No matter how technically great a photo is, if there is no message or story behind it, it’s just a pretty photo. Let its personality shine!
8. Edit with Care
Adjusting your contrast, exposure and highlights are essential for a good photo but don’t go overboard with your edits. Editing and filter apps like Snapseed and Afterlight, or Photoshop for a more comprehensive program, enable you to tweak the brightness warmth and colour saturation of a photo whether you’re using your smartphone or a camera. Edits and filters are a great way to enhance the photo but make sure it still looks edible and realistic for your audience to relate to it better. Ditch the Insta filters and opt for an editing app like VSCO instead. Vibrancy is great, but there’s no need to saturate your photos until they look over-edited.
9. Consider the Big Picture
The hardest part about food-gramming is perfecting the feel of your entire Insta feed. One food photo may look ridiculously amazing on its own, but how does it measure up next to other snaps in your feed? Whilst it’s important to understand that every photo is different, consider how each photo will fit within the ‘big picture’ of your feed. Alternating between different shot angles, colours and textures may work for one tasty account, whilst other food-grammers will find sticking to similarities between each photo works better.
With the magnitude of tips and tricks to get the most appetising shot, it makes you wonder how the food bloggers do this on a daily basis! For those enviable Instagram foodie feeds that make us drool, you don’t necessarily need a professional DSLR camera and Photoshop. These tools definitely help, but veritable food porn can be achieved through good angles, careful composition, a good eye for detail and creativity. Get snapping and share your tips with us today!
If you’re after some tasty treats, sauces and nibbles to inspire your next Insta-worthy food photo, start drooling over the selection of goodies at Just In Time Gourmet today! Oh and don’t forget to follow our food-porn on Instagram either!