I can't help it, I'm obsessed with Instagram. I love food, and I love photography. Therefore, Instagram is my social media drug of choice. I've spent the past two years curating my food feed, and I have a few tips for those who wish to create their own 'Foodstagram.'
It comes down to 5 main components: Lighting, Styling, Camera Tips, Editing and Composition.
Find the best light: Natural window light is the best option for pretty, realistic shots. Fluorescents, lamps, holiday string lights, they all add a grey, blue, or orange tint to your beautiful food. Take your plate away from any created light, and bring it back to basics. Find a non-tinted window (that is not giving off direct sunlight), and gram away!
If you absolutely have to take a photo of your food in the dark, try filtering the light from a flashlight through a glass of water. The water will diffuse the light enough so that it's not so harsh. I have a controversial opinion that you shouldn't be taking photos of your food at all in the dark, but this trick sometimes works with things like cocktails or wine.
Simple styling: The best 'grams come from the simplest compositions. When followers are scrolling through their feeds, bright and simple photos are going to grab their attention. A few elements (bowl, plate, fork) can oftentimes be more than enough.
My favorite type of Instagram has a graphic element to it, maybe a stack of cookies or a grid of produce. Sometimes all it takes is a plain surface and exceptional food to make a great photo. Play around with your style and preferences. It's all about experimentation.
Phone Camera Tips: When you are ready to snap the picture, first wipe your camera lens. It can get dirty from being in your pocket or just everyday use.
Once you have your camera software up, be sure to tap the screen on your subject to focus and meter your light. Also, be sure that your phone isn’t shooting on the ‘square’ setting, you might need some extra room to rotate your photos later.
Filters and Editing: Sometimes ‘earlybird’ has its advantages, but in food photography, there oftentimes is no place. The most updated version of Instagram features some more tedious editing capabilities, but bumping up contrast and saturation slightly are really the only tweaks you need to fix a good ‘gram.
Apps: I like VSCOcam if I'm looking to get some serious color filtering. I also recommend SnapSeed and Afterlight for other effects.
Composition:. Put your subject on a 3-square-by-3-square grid. Does your subject land straight in the middle? Scoot your horizon line down to create some interest. Subjects smack dab in the middle of the frame are not as interesting as some negative space to the side.
Most grams are successful at a bird's eye view, 3/4 angle, or straight on. You don't have to get so locked into these angles, but they are a good starting point. Mix up your angle and position throughout your feed to get a great graphic image.
Overall: Sometimes, simplest is best! Step back from your subject, and try evaluating it from a viewer perspective. Would you "double tap?" Get 'gramming, people! Be sure to follow @cookinglight and @stupidgoodrachel for other great 'grams. We'd love to see your snaps using the hashtag #freshfinds and #howisummer.