When it comes to engaging your Instagram followers, visuals are everything. Beautiful and creative photography can attract potential followers and turn them into devoted readers!
I love Instagram the way I love food and photography so I try to pay close attention you what I am posting on my page. Instagram is known as a social media site for those who appreciate photography, and it’s a great way to present your food photography to the world. The problem is that making food look good in a photo is harder than it looks. It involves a lot of creativity, patience, and yes, skill. In fact, it is something of an art, but with practice anyone can improve their food photography. The best part is, you will reap almost instant benefits when you start improving on your photography–increasing the number of likes, shares, and follows your account receives. This can turn into actually clicks on your site!
Let’s take a look at how you can beautify your Instagram feed with beautiful food photography:
This may seem like a given but some newbie food photographers don’t put a lot of thought into how they want their shots to look before pressing the shutter. Whether you’re using a DSLR or an iPhone composition is what makes your photo–it’s the first thing fans notice when you post. A good practice is to take the time to set up each shot. Pay attention to the styling, and what is visually appealing. Visualize how it will look in the frame and move and arrange items. The most important factor in composition is that it should look effortless!
Rule of Thirds
Professional food photographers (and all photographers for that matter) use a principle known as the golden ratio when composing their visuals and photography. This factor known as “the rule of thirds” states that you should place the most important elements of your photograph along the intersections of the grid on your camera. Doing so will help you capture the feeling of energy and immediacy that cannot be replicated if you place your food in the center of the frame. That’s not to say you should never photograph your subject in the center of the frame. Plenty of photographers love this style and their images are outstanding! So don’t be rigid with rules–mix up your positioning and angles to get the best graphic image you’re happy with!
Light, Light, Light
It’s pretty hard to get good quality images without the correct lighting. But before you rush to turn on your fluorescent lights, I am talking about natural light. You see, electronic lights, lamps, tungsten and holiday string lights add unnatural tints and tones to your food photography. This type of artificial lighting is also harsh (and if not manipulated correctly) can make your pictures look flat and one dimensional. So for the newbie food photographer natural window light will help you get the BEST quality images. Be sure to get your food close enough to a non-tinted window, and ensure that the window is not giving off direct sunlight. If the lighting is too harsh diffuse it by hanging a thin sheet or piece of fabric.
Not getting enough light? Use a white reflector to bounce the ambient light back onto the food. But wait! I live in a cave!? Trust me I understand that not all homes have amazing natural light. The above image (of the chocolate cake) was taken with two off camera flashes bounced and diffused with a thin fabric attached by a rubber band. I LOVE flash photography–it makes it so those of us with poor natural light can still capture beautiful images. The important thing with lighting an image is to really SEE the light first with your eyes, and to experiment with shaping light whether natural or artificial light. You will end up with an image you are proud of and something your followers will love and share 🙂
Keep Styling Simple
What attracts Instagrammers to your food photos? Simplicity. Minimal styling helps keep the focus on the food and can make the task of creating a beautiful image (without spilling food everywhere) much easier. But even some of the best photographers can get carried away with complex and cluttered imagery. My suggestion is unless you are skilled in food styling, try to keep your compositions clean and simple. A few components here and there are the key to crafting images you will love. I personally like to add elements that aren’t distracting–something as simple as crumbs, or topping a dish with a little greenery work well for me. In some cases, all it takes is a plain surface and exceptional food to get an amazing shot!
Movement in food photography is a style even I haven’t mastered yet, but if you can, try to add some action to your shots. Not only is this technique fun, it also captures the process of your cooking and baking–telling a story. Movement in food photography has exploded in popularity and some of the best food photographers have found ways to incorporate this style in their work. Movement can give your photos an energetic vibe and something your fans can engage in. The key to movement in your food photos is to use a tripod, and if possible, ask a friend to help! If working alone you can use a remote shutter to press the shutter exactly when you need to. Lastly, adjusting your shutter speed to what you want to capture–a sprinkle of sugar or pouring of a liquid–is key to getting the look you want.
Use your Phone the Right Way
If you’re like me, you love using your phone to take photos of your food, and many of the food images you see on Instagram are shot with a phone. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to master beautiful phone photography and these tips can drastically improve your images. First, be sure to wipe your camera lens as everyday use can cause it to get pretty dirty. Take the photo from overhead using a chair to stand on; sometimes the wide angle of your phone’s lens can distort the image making the photo undesirable. Also, tap the screen on your subject to focus your lens and meter your light, and use the crop feature to crop out any distractions. Just because you are using your phone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore manual mode–turn off auto and practice changing your phones shutter speed and aperture!
Use the Right Apps and Software
The apps you use are often as important as the photos you take. There are apps that can adjust your white balance, sharpness–you can even add filters to color grade your images! But remember that simplicity is best when editing images, and you don’t want to end up with an image that looks photoshopped and “worked on”–your fans can tell! The best way to avoid this is to carefully add adjustments, slowly, a little here and there. Also change the opacity of the filter to +30 or less. A good photo in camera often doesn’t need much adjusting so spend time on set getting the image you want. My favorite apps and software for food photography are VSCOcam, Afterlight, and Adobe Lightroom.