7 tips for drool-worthy Instagram photos

Tips for good instagram photos

I’m slightly obsessive when it comes to food photography. Whether it’s a recipe I create and shoot for the blog or just a quick snapshot of my breakfast for Instagram, I have this uncontrollable desire to make what I’m eating look just as good as it tastes.

The irony is, there’s actually nothing instant about my Instagram photos. Each upload to Instagram typically involves taking multiple snapshots and 3-4 minutes of intense iPhone editing. My patient husband, bless his heart, sits there just shaking his head while he waits for me to upload the damn photo and dig in.

If you’re the type that loves to drool over beautiful food in your feed as well, try these 7 tips for better Insta- food photography:

1. Don’t shoot photos using the Instagram app.  Use an app like Camera+, that allows you to adjust the focus and exposure separately. I use Photoshop Express for lots of editing options like the ability to up the exposure, or contrast, and their wider variety of filters.

2. Make sure the subject matter only fills the bottom, or top 2/3 of the screen.  Smartphones traditionally shoot in a rectangular ratio, usually 4:3, whereas Instagram photos are square, or 1:1 ratio. If you fill the entire frame with your dish, a good chunk of it will be cropped out. The Camera+ app also has a square crop function if you don’t want to have to worry about this. 

3. Keep the background simple.  Instagram photos are small which doesn’t leave much room for your eye to travel around the image. A simple napkin, cutting board, wood table or marble slab beneath your dish will add a little bit of texture and keep the focus on your food.

4. Get the light right.  Daylight is your friend but avoid shooting under direct sunlight. It’s way too contrasty. Instead, look for diffused light–like near a window or under an umbrella if you’re outside. As for getting beauty shots in dimly lit restaurants? No amount of candle light or smartphone flash will do your meal justice. Just put your phone away and enjoy the food. 

5. Play with different angles.  Smartphones don’t have the depth-of-field capabilities as DSLR cameras but overhead shots tend to work really well.

6. Apply the rule-of-thirds.  Visually divide the frame into thirds–horizontally and vertically–and place different things of interest, like the crust of a pie, a utensil, or the edge of the dish,  where those lines intersect. 

7. Add the blur effect.  Adding a little blur to the background can create that short depth-of-field effect we’re attracted to in really good food photography. I like using the blur function within Instagram because it allows you to move it around the frame depending on what and where you want your viewers eyes to focus. 

For more Insta- drool inspiration, check out some of my foodie favs: Cait’s Plate, Not Without Salt, Alice Gao, and Healthy Aperture.

Got any other phone food photography tips to share? 

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