We all know foodies love to take photos of their meals. Heck, we’ve done it on multiple occasions. Sometimes a restaurant's plating is so gosh darn delicious looking it must be done!
What I want to know is why no one has set up a little station precisely for diners? It’d be pretty simple to set up a little area where you have some decent lighting. It would hugely benefit the restaurant because their dishes would look that more appealing and diners would love it because they’d look like rock star photographers.
All that aside, it is no secret that food posts on Instagram are incredibly popular. You’re in for Like City if you stage it right.
Professional food photography is a very fine art but thankfully, by the nature of Instagram, there is no expectation for that. If you can post a well lit dish with most of the details paid attention to, you’re golden.
Phone cameras are vastly more feature rich and quality built than they used to be. That being said, if your business can invest in a half-decent dedicated camera the benefits will be quite apparent.
Lighting is the most important part of taking an amazing photo. There is no photo without light. Make things easy on yourself by making sure you have a lot of light to work with. You can always edit after the fact.
You have far more flexibility when you have a lot of light. The darker it gets the more chance you will introduce what we call noise—graininess. Even worse than that, the odds that you will have a blurry photo increases.
This is a fundamental issue with the way a camera works. In order for the camera to capture everything you want, it needs a certain amount of light. Think of it like rain filling a bucket.
When it’s a downpour the bucket will fill up pretty quickly. However, when it sprinkles it might take a few days.
Dark spaces are like a day of light rain where it takes much longer for the light to fill up the photo. This means you have a much higher chance of motion blur. It also means a higher chance of pine needles or leaves falling in your bucket i.e. camera noise.
The most common way to combat this is to find yourself a decent tripod to make due with almost any lighting conditions. But forgoing all that, just make sure you have lots of lights on. Bring lamps from other rooms if need be.
The best stages for food photography are those with fairly simple backdrops. Avoid having an overly distracting background. The only time you can get away with it is when you’ve dialed the focus in such that your background is actually blurry.
Solid colours or subtle textures work wonderfully. Think simple wood grains, tiles, or bricks.
Places like Rain or Shine Ice Cream do a stellar job on Instagram by making their images relatively simple. They aren’t over processed but they aren’t just a quick snap either. They are enjoyable for us to view.
Their images are timely (ice cream often in current weather). They make it clear they are not robotically posting from photo shoots months past.
For them it is as simple as holding an ice cream cone out in the snow. We relate. It’s fun. They speak in the same voice the rest of their brand does.
An upscale restaurant might work a little differently, but there is no harm in showing humour or other facets behind the personality of your brand.
The more your business feels like a person the more an audience will form and relate to it.
An old fall back that does very well on both Instagram and Pinterest is the top down shot. Set your dish on a white table, some rustic wood, or a simple tile pattern. Then from above take your photo straight down.
You can also try getting nice and close to the food. Zoom in on it. Give us a new perspective on brussel sprouts.
Sometimes the best performing images are ones that show the process. Maybe it’s your chef in the kitchen or your signature dish deconstructed on the counter.
Once you have the shot you need, take it to the computer. If you’ve got Photoshop skills, go to town, just be sure to make whatever you do feel natural. Lastly, crop your images to 1080px by 1080px. This is the maximum size an Instagram photo can be and you don’t want to give up any real estate you don’t have to.
There is just one problem with taking photos from a dedicated camera than with your phone—uploading. There are two workarounds we employ for this.
After you download your images to your computer and make tweaks (small natural ones are best) save them out as jpegs. We tend to use a program called Gramblr to upload these direct from our computers, however, the alternative is to e-mail these images to yourself. You can then receive them from your phone and upload to Instagram natively.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with it. It’s only Instagram after all.
What are your best tips for amazing Instagram food photos?