How to take your Instagram food photography to the next level
You can cook, you can bake and boy can you whip up a feast. But can you take good photos of what you make? These days, it’s impossible to scroll through instagram without seeing someone’s delicious creation that’s been photographed to manicured perfection.
Why, you might ask, doesn’t the sourdough loaf that you’ve taken pains to raise look as good as the person’s that you’re following? Chances are, it’s all about styling. Now, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take your shots to the next level. You don’t even need a DSLR. All that’s required is your smartphone camera, a spot next to a brightly lit window and a few extra props to really make your food come alive.
Here are three simple hacks to elevate your game.
The simplest, yet most effective way to elevate your food styling chops is to change the backdrop. Nobody needs to see the reality of your stained dining table now do they? Think about a magazine photoshoot spread: These are often created in a studio where backdrops are a requirement. It sets the mood and the tone of the picture and are available at wallet-friendly prices. The best part, many of them come in roll-up formats so you won’t have to worry about taking up space. Take your pick from the serene white marble backdrop to the grungy industrial feel of concrete. Pro-tip: If you’re after a wooden background, get actual plywood planks instead of roll-ups as wood’s natural grain is not one that can be easily mimicked.
Think about textures
Next, you’ll have to think about textures, in particular two distinct types: fabric adds softness and warmth to a picture while paper elements recall the sheer joy of unfolding something delicious to take a bite out of. Both are props that you can easily place in your photos to your advantage. Here are three examples:
Here, food stylist @xlbcr uses a plain blue cloth draped around the plate. This gives the picture a sense of fullness and proportion, while adding a soft hue to the overall composition.
In this picture, @my_oven_life uses a rustic brown cloth to seemingly hold freshly baked bread in a wooden box. This adds cosiness to the picture and allows shadows and depth to come through.
Above, @julchen__kocht uses crumpled paper as the base of her picture. Notice how it adds texture on the upper right hand side of the photo. Paper also invokes a sense of crispiness — think about the times you’ve eaten where there is paper involved. It could be a burger that’s been wrapped or a basket of french fries.
Invest in new tableware
Of all the options we listed here, plates are arguably the biggest investments. Those regular plates you would get from Ikea will not suffice. Instead, look for serving vessels with character. Handmade ceramics are always gorgeous, if pricey, but if you’re on a budget, platforms like Shopee and Lazada have options that you can play with too. Look for tableware with faux imperfections — think freckles on the glaze and irregular bumps. Always avoid the ones which look too smooth and too perfect and don’t forget to forget to get tableware in various sizes. In general, small plates tend to make your food look larger in the photo while large plates have a shrinking effect on your food.