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10 Tips for Choosing Crockery

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You’ll read this often on FBC: there are no rules when it comes to food photography. But there are some tips that can make your life easier when it comes to choosing crockery, especially when you are starting out. Here are my top 10 tips.

1. Go White – there are very few foods and props that don’t work with white. I started out with only white plates because I was trying to learn so many things, I wanted to remove as many variables as possible and crockery was an easy one to simplify. The few times I tried to use coloured crockery in the beginning were an outright disaster!

So while it’s easy to get bored of white plates, it’s always safe to fall back onto white crockery. So have a solid collection of plain white crockery.

I find this style of dinner plates restrictive on styling and hard to work with for angle photos. I gave up on them pretty quickly!

2. Keep Plates Plain – For plates, start off with plain ones with no ridges, just a smooth surface.

Plates with patterns and ridges are gorgeous, so don’t get me wrong. They can look fabulous and add interest and tone to photos. But it does require a more practiced eye to make sure that bright patterns on a plate compliment, rather than overpower the food.

One thing to be mindful of when a plate has a lip, like in the photo on the right, the food needs to be plated so that it fits within the ridge. These were the plates I was using when I started out and they are actually my day to day dinner plates.

I personally wasn’t a fan of these plates. I found them difficult to shoot on an angle, restrictive for styling (and bland) and also every photo started to look similar. Even today, I still don’t like them.

It really bugged me, to the point that I stopped using those plates completely and headed down to my local supermarket to pick up plain white plates with relatively flat bases and just a low curved edge. These cost about $2 each (from Woolworths, for those in Australia!) and they are the best prop investment I have made to date! I bought 2 small, 2 medium and 2 large ones, as well as bowls (photo below).

The medium plates, shown in the photo below, are my most used plates. They are larger than a side dish plate but smaller than a dinner plate. The size is perfect for meals which is the type of food I post the most.

I typically find full size dinner plates too large for styling purposes – either I have to overfill it, the food is too small so it looks dwarfed and/or it requires a lot of side garnish (e.g. salad) or cutlery to fill empty space.

Too much effort!

Which is why I love these medium size plates so much. They are around 25cm/10″ in diameter. Typically, I will use a full size dinner plate as a “platter” for food, then a medium sized plate as a dinner plate.

3. Start with plain bowls with vertical or outward turning lips

There are loads of gorgeous soup bowls available. I especially love the ones with pretty etchings on the rim, with handles and edges that turn in. I haven’t invested in any yet because they are quite distinctive so I won’t be able to use them as often as the very generic but versatile bowls below. Think of winter when you’re posting lots of stews and soups!

I also find that the rim of most of those fancy soup bowls turn inwards which means less food surface is visible. Plus you need to think more about shadows on your food because inward turning ridges create more shadow.

Hence why I stick to these run-of-the-mill bowls.

Choose bowls that have either vertical lips or slightly outward turning ones. Bowls with wide outward turning lips are harder to photograph because there is more “bowl” that you need to fit into the frame and less food. It’s the same concept as using large plates for small amounts of food I refer to in point 2 above.

One more tip! Shallow bowls are easier to style than deep ones because there is a higher surface to height ratio.

All the bowls I use typically have vertical rims rather than outward turning rims which I find are slightly harder to make look balanced in photos.

4. Go small – a large plate with a small amount of food on it looks empty and sad unless you are specific with food placement and create interest in the empty space with a light scatter of garnish or a piece of cutlery.

On the other hand, don’t go too far the other way because if you overfill big plates, it can look like a complicated mess (think a huge pile of squiggly spaghetti….it’s too much detail to look at!!).

Generally speaking, a small plate or bowl of food is easier to style than a large platter of food, simply because there is less of it so you don’t need to worry about other factors such as:

  • breaking up / adding interest to large surface areas of similar textures/colours;
  • there is less actual food to style – less garnishes required, less food to position in the “best” position to show it off.

I really struggle to photograph large platters of food – like a huge roast with all the trimmings. It requires a lot of effort, thinking about angle and then if you need to make a change, it’s A LOT of bits and pieces that can be impacted and needing adjustment.

So my preference is to “go small”. I like small plates and bowls of food, and to shoot close up and style in detail, because it’s easier – less space and food to style. And I like small props to match!

If I had this potato on a large plate, it would look sparse. By using a small plate, I avoid the need to fill the rest of the plate with other things. It let me concentrate on the key element of this shot – the sausage spilling out of the potato and capturing the runny yolk.

4. Keep it Simple…for now – I know points 1 to 3 are boring. But they are practical. And keeping your crockery colours simple means you can concentrate on other aspects of photography. Like getting more familiar with your manual settings. Or lighting. Or composition.

5. Dark is good too

Second to white crockery is very dark crockery. Dark crockery looks especially fantastic when plated with light or bright coloured foods because it really makes the colour of the food pop and/or look very elegant. I also think it does wonders to create atmosphere, whether going for dark and dramatic, rustic autumn evening, or an exotic ethnic spread (which is what I was aiming for with the Butter Chicken feast photo below).

I personally think that dark dishes for dark foods (think coq au vin and dark curries curries) is hard to make work without it looking like one big black blob. It can look incredible, but it does require more fancy footwork with dramatic lighting to angle it in a way to make the food stand out more.

5. {KEY TIP} Matte Crockery

I have long since admired the soft glow that Nicole Branan from The Spice Train manages to capture in her “light” style photos. She creates photos that are worthy of high end glossy magazines. Like this one – her Star Anise Poached Pears. Such a simple composition and styling set up, but a stunning photo. Notice how soft and “glowy” the photo is, and the mood it creates.

This Star Anise Poached Pear by Nicole Branan from The Spice Train is a classic example of a stunning photo with a “soft” glow.

She is highly skilled at moulding light to make it do what she wants. So she manages to create photos without harsh lighting reflecting off her crockery even if she is using shiny crockery by creating extremely soft lighting.

For ordinary folk like myself who haven’t mastered the skill of creating and photographing in incredible soft light, a key tip to create photos like this is to use what I refer to as “Matte Crockery”. By this, I mean earthenware crockery that light does not reflect harshly off.

Here’s an example. I swiped some of my mother’s earthenware bowls to shoot this cauliflower soup. I was thrilled with the “softness” of this shot which is largely attributable to the bowls. Compare it to the chowder soup shot beneath it – notice how the bowls have got harsh light reflections on it whereas the cauliflower soup earthenware bowls do not.

The soft glow of the bowls in this shot is aided by the matte earthenware bowls I used.

This shot is not as “soft” because the bowls are shiny so the reflections on the bowl are harsher.

6. Colour and patterns are FABULOUS…..if you know how to use it.

I haven’t mastered the art of using bold coloured plates for my shots. But others have. And it can create incredibly eye catching photos that really stand out, especially on social media. John from He Needs Food uses bright coloured crockery fabulously. This is a great example of how he does this. The bright orange plate he uses for his Mušule na buzaru {stewed mussels} draws the viewers eyes straight to the mussels without the plate overpowering the shot.

And I love how the orange plate picks out the juicy orange meat inside the mussel shells.

A stunning photo by John from He Needs Food. The bright orange plate picks out the orange of the mussels without clashing or overpowering the image. It draws the eye to the mussels rather than distracting the viewer.

7. Shooting Square Plates

This is not so much a tip about choosing crockery than shooting it, but I thought it was worth slotting this in because it’s a very crockery specific point.

Square plates are actually quite hard to shoot. They tend to look a little warped and unbalanced if you try to shoot them with the plate placed on an angle, no matter what camera angle you use.

It’s because I find square plates hard to shoot that I don’t have any in my prop collection. But I do have rectangle ones which I actually use for serving and have used on occasion for shooting.

Though the examples below are rectangle plates, I would shoot square plates the same way. Either:

a) shooting them with the plate placed directly straight, and preferably shooting from a low angle with the whole plate in the centre of the shot; or

b) capturing around 3/4 of the plate (still shooting low with the plate straight).

8. When you’re shooting low, using a plate with a LOW ridge

There are some foods that are just crying out to be shot at a very low angle. Think a towering, fully loaded burger. Or a pile of pancakes. Or a crazy invention like a savoury Mille-feuille.

So whenever you are shooting a food at a low angle to show off layers, make sure you use a plate with a low lip so it doesn’t obstruct what you want to show off about the food.

9. Wood, metal, cast iron – mix things up!

When you are ready to start expanding your crockery collection (and move away from white!), mix things up! Vessels for plating up your food don’t just have to be ceramics. Think cast iron (like in the Buffalo Wings photo below), other metals (especially rustic!) and wood.

I am extremely jealous of Amanda Michetti’s rustic copper plate collection. I’ve been hunting for these for ages but the ones I have found tend to be quite pricey. I know they are much better value in the US and Europe if you scour online marketplaces like Ebay and Etsy.

Here’s an example from her portfolio – this Fettuccine Aglio e Olio looks stunningly rustic on the tarnished metal plate.

10. Paper!

Paper is a fabulous alternative to crockery for shooting your food. Because my crockery collection is not very extensive, when I was shooting 40 types of wings for my Wings cookbook (you can see previews of most of the photos here), I was seriously running out of things to plate the wings on.

So I shot quite a few of them on paper instead. Parchment paper, tissue paper and brown paper bags. I really love using paper, especially when it’s been crumpled because it’s like plating the food on patterned or coloured plates in that it is much more interesting than a plain white plate but there is far less risk of the plate dominating the image.

Here’s another example where I used paper to create a much softer photo.

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So there you have it, my key tips for choosing crockery to show off your amazing food. This doesn’t cover vessels that food is cooked in, like skillets and casserole dishes which I think look authentic, relevant and stunning for food photos. I really love shooting food in the actual pan or pot it was cooked in, but that’s another topic!!

If you found this post useful, share it with your friends!

Love these 10 AWESOME tips for choosing crockery for food photos! #FBC

What have I missed? What are your tips for choosing plates and bowls? What type of crockery do you find challenging to style or shoot? Leave your thoughts below and I’ll respond!

– Nagi

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Checking your Instagram or Facebook feed, you’re almost certain to see a constant barrage of food pictures scrolling by like images in a slot machine. Everyone from world leaders to celebrities to your Aunt Mabel seems to be posting snapshots of the latest, most scrumptious treats they’re about to consume.

While these decadent pics of juicy burgers and colorful cakes might seem frivolous to some—great food photography is essential for others.

Businesses like restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, grocery stores and more thrive on the strength of their food photography. A photo that perfectly captures the essence of a dish can make or break a food business’s social media marketing strategy, blog post, or product photo—and that can mean the difference between massive sales and massive loss.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the quality of your food photography meets the standards that customers expect. But taking great food pictures doesn’t have to involve hiring a professional photographer or purchasing expensive equipment. Professional-looking photographs can be shot on something as simple as a smartphone camera.

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Taking good food photography is less about the equipment you have and more about understanding how to emphasize the aesthetic beauty of your food through:

  • Plating: How you arrange your food.
  • Lighting How you use light to bring out your food’s good side.
  • Composition: How you frame your shot.
  • Editing: Touch-ups to your photos that you can make in post.

Can’t take your own pictures of food? No problem! Download free stock photos on Burst!

Preparing your food to be photographed

A post shared by Deliciously Ella (@deliciouslyella) on Aug 7, 2017 at 5:00am PDT

Chefs use the term plating to describe the aesthetic arrangement of food. Plating may seem vain at first—one would think that the taste of food isn’t affected by how it’s presented on the plate. However, one would be wrong.

A study released by the Department of Psychology at Montclair State University found that when food was presented to test subjects in an arranged presentation, the subjects were more likely to rate both the taste of the food as well as the amount of care taken in cooking it—as higher. It’s perhaps for this reason that chefs spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to plate food.

Presentation is arguably more important when it comes to photographing food. With nothing but an image for the user to go by, the plating is the first step to creating the idea that the food being photographed is just as juicy and mouthwatering as it appears to be.

You’ll want to start by making sure to arrange your food in a stylistic manner if you intend on photographing it. Here are some things to keep in mind when plating your food before taking a photograph:

1. Know your aesthetic: If you’re photographing food that’s more natural-looking, (say a salad or a soup) you can be a bit more chaotic and messy with the plating. This isn’t to say that the food shouldn’t be arranged—but you’ll want to think of naturally occurring spectacles in nature like a garden with blooming colourful flowers or a luscious forest with jagged trees.

If you’re photographing food that’s a little more otherworldly—say rainbow smoothies or galaxy cakes—neatness in your plating is key. These sorts of foods rely more on the balance of colours and precision of lines, the same way it would be with a painting, drawing, or sculpture.

A post shared by Amina Mucciolo (@studiomucci) on Aug 1, 2017 at 7:47am PDT

2. Choose the right surface: Wooden cutting boards and picnic tables can give a more rustic feel and look great for presenting more homey foods like burgers and fries. Classic white plates can give colourful foods a more vibrant pop. You’ll want to choose plates that best align with the food’s aesthetic and are able to bring out the strengths of the food’s visual appeal.

A post shared by Charles (@fastgoodcuisine) on Jul 28, 2017 at 11:09am PDT

3. Start in the middle: When plating food, it’s best to start in the middle and work your way out from there in order to ensure symmetry in the plating of your food.

4. Think like an artist: Professional chefs use tools like spoons, squeeze bottles, tweezers and even paint brushes to meticulously decorate their plates in a decorative and precise way, like a painter designing a canvas. Don’t be afraid to use sauces and patterns to give your plate an artistic edge.

A post shared by Mumbai Foodie™ (@mumbaifoodie) on Jul 9, 2017 at 7:09am PDT

Many food photographers also put together food styling kits—a collection of accessories and tools to help with adjusting your food to be photographed. These kits often include things like tweezers, paper towels, cotton swabs and other tools to help you meticulously assemble the objects of your photograph.

After you’ve prepared your food to be photographed, you’ll want to start thinking about the arrangement and composition of the photographs themselves.

Lighting your food pictures

Good lighting is key to emphasizing the textures and color balance of your food photograph. Choosing the right lighting for your food involves thinking about what parts of the food you’d want to emphasize. Maybe you want to showcase the juiciness of a freshly cooked cut of beef—or show-off the unique texture of a perfectly sliced piece of cheese.

Here are some things to keep in mind to get the best lighting for your photograph:

1. Light from the side: Lighting from the side of your food is a great way to bring out the shadows and bright spots of certain food textures—such as bread, meat and cheese. This is especially important when photographing food that balance a lot of textures, like sandwiches and burgers.

A post shared by @food_glooby on Aug 8, 2017 at 6:13am PDT

2. Watch for harsh shadows: You want to bring out the textures of your food, but harsh shadows can be off-putting and unappetizing. If you notice a lot of harsh shadows in-frame, try to adjust the angle of either your light or camera to balance out the shading in the frame and bring out texture in the food.
3. Use soft, diffused light: Harsh shadows can also be prevented by using softer lighting. If you’re taking a picture under natural light—it’s best to do this by a window on an overcast day. If you’re taking pictures in-studio—try using a reflective surface to bounce and diffuse natural light or artificial light onto your subject. 4. Avoid lighting from the front: Lighting from the front has a tendency to create harsh bright spots in your photograph, meaning that textured foods won’t be contrasted to in a way that emphasize the texture in the photo-graphic. This can make your food appear bland and tasteless.

Composition of food photography

Your food is plated, your lights are hot—the next thing to think about is the way that you want to frame your food image. There’s no right or wrong way to frame a food picture—but here are a couple of guidelines on the aspects of photography that you want to keep in mind when trying to get a shot that best emphasizes the strengths of your food.

A post shared by Burger Haritası (@burgerharitasi) on Apr 28, 2017 at 1:34am PDT

1. Angles: When it comes to the angles of your photographs—you want to think about what part of the food you’re looking to emphasize. If you’re taking a picture of a sandwich for example, you might think about cutting it in half and shooting from the side to show the texture and juiciness of the beef.
Side-shots won’t work for all food though. Things like a salads or a charcuterie board are best shot from in an overhead, flat-lay style in order to show the intricacies of the arrangement of elements.

A post shared by Zimmy’s Nook (@zimmysnook) on Aug 1, 2017 at 5:46pm PDT

You want to avoid shooting your food from a front-facing, downward angle. This is a common mistake in photographing food usually made because this is the first angle a person sees when a plate of food is placed in front of them. It’s for this same reason that shooting from this angle tends to look uninteresting. There are definitely exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, rarely are the best textures and lines of the food emphasized from this angle. 2. Colour: Think about how the colours of your photograph work together and play off of each other and how those colours serve your aesthetic. Try to compliment your food with props or interesting textures and patterns in complementary colours and try to keep the colour balanced.

A post shared by Phoebe Conway 🌿 (@pheebsfoods) on Jul 8, 2017 at 11:45pm PDT

You also want to keep your photo’s saturated. Try to keep the overall composition of the photograph warmly coloured as well. Studies have shown that certain colours can trigger sensory reactions in the brain that increase appetite. Warmer colours—like reds, oranges, and yellows—are best for stimulating appetites. Greens can give a more natural and organic feel to your photographs.
You want to avoid harsh, cool colours (blues and purples). This isn’t to say that bright blue berries or rich purple grapes can’t add a much needed pop of colour, but avoid cooler filters on your photographs. Most foods—meats and cheeses especially—look unappetizing under a blue glow.
3. Selective focus and depth of field: Focus is another thing to consider when photographing food. Depth of field concerns the distance between objects in frame and the way that focus creates emphasis on parts of the food that are closest. In the same way that certain foods have better angles, they also have better spots to be in the photo to be more focused.
Try experimenting with focused, close-up shots and less focused backgrounds. Playing around with the depth of field of your photographs can help to add emphasis to more textured foods—this effect works especially well with pasta dishes.

A post shared by 🍝 Pasta (@pasta) on Jul 12, 2017 at 12:37pm PDT

Editing your food photography

After you’ve snapped your pics, you’ll want to use a photo editing tool to make some light touch-ups. There are both paid and free photo editing software options, depending on your needs and budget. You don’t want to do too much editing, but careful alterations to the color balance and shading will give your photographs a more polished and professional look.

Here’s a food photo prior to making any touch-ups:

The food is plated beautifully and there’s some interesting balance to the composition. Everything appears well lit and the image is a great start to a perfect food photograph, but let’s touch it up a bit to really bring out the flavour of the photograph.

Here’s some editing steps we took on this photograph that you’ll want to do on your own photograph:

1. Sharpen the Image: Generally speaking, your image should be fairly sharp assuming you’ve used a steady camera and clear lighting. However some adjustments to the sharpness of the image will give the edges more definition and help to differentiate aspects of the image.

In Photoshop and other photo-editing platforms, you can sharpen an image by applying what’s called an Unsharp Mask. Unsharp Mask filters increase the contrast between adjacent pixels, giving the edges of your image a more defined look.
Unsharp masks give three adjustment options:

Radius: This controls how many pixels adjacent to high-contrast edges will be affected by the filter. If you’re photo contains fewer, larger objects you can adjust this to a higher radius of about 2. For images with more intricate elements and sharper lines, you’ll want to use a lower radius between 0.05 and 1. For our image above, we’ve used a radius of 0.7 because there are a lot of sharp lines on the dishes.

Amount: This option controls the amount of contrast that will be applied to the edges of image. Usually with food pictures, it’s best to keep this minimal. A high amount of sharpening can give a more “gritty” feel to your photographs, and while this may work for some types of photography, gritty food can appear unappetizing.

Threshold: This adjusts how much of the image is affected by the filter. A value of 0 will apply the filter to the entire image. As you adjust the threshold, high-contrast areas of the photograph will be sharpened while low-contrast areas will not be.

In the above example, we’ve kept the threshold at 0 because the abundance of lines in it benefits from a lower threshold, but feel free to adjust this a little higher if your food photograph contains larger objects and less lines.

2. Fix White Balance: White balance refers to the tint of the white parts of your photograph. Adjusting white balance can help to make an image look more “warm” or “cool” depending on how you adjust it.

When taking pictures of food, using a warmer white will make the food look more appetizing than cooler light:

White balance can be adjusted in different ways depending on the photo editor you’re using. For Photoshop, you can adjust this by selecting the image and then selecting Adjustments > Color Balance.

3. Adjust Brightness/Contrast: Contrast is the separation between the darkest and lightest areas of your photograph. Adding higher contrast between light and dark parts of the image will give it more detail.
Different photo editing software will have different ways of adjusting the brightness and contrast of your photographs. In Photoshop, you can do this by selecting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. This will give you a panel with sliders that allow you to adjust the brightness and contrast of your photograph.
Giving a slight boost to your brightness and contrast will bring out the diversity of colors, highlights and shadows in your photo and make for a more eye-catching image.
4. Adjust Saturation: The final tip for editing your photos is a slight increase in the saturation of your photographs. Saturation describes the intensity of colors in your photograph.
When it comes to food photography, more saturated, warm colors tend to be more appetizing. Think of the intense color of juicy, red beef or a bright orange slice of mango. Adding just a bit of saturation in a food picture is a great way to bring out the colours of your photograph and make the image seem all the more mouth-watering.

These are just some basic photo-editing techniques, but even with all of these techniques applied we can see a big difference in the way the image looks:

There are a lot more advanced editing techniques that you can apply if you’re an experienced photo-editor, but even some small, basic changes can make a big difference.

Final tip: be creative

A post shared by Helga Stentzel (@made_by_helga) on Aug 13, 2017 at 11:46am PDT

Food photography is an art, not an exact science. While these are some rough guidelines that will help you get better pictures of your food, don’t let them stop you from experimenting with filters, lighting techniques and composition that can bring a creative edge to your photography. Use The Complete Guide to DIY Product Photography to continue learning everything you need to know about capturing your food.

There are a ton of incredible and interesting ways to play with your food. Don’t afraid to try new things—like using food to sculpt a landscape or making desserts that look like cute animals.

A unique take on the concept of the food photograph is a great way to give your pictures an edge. The more unique a perspective you can bring to your food photography the more likely you are to catch the attention of those social media users scrolling through their feed. And at the end of the day, catching people’s attention—and hopefully their tastebuds—is what’s most important.

Banner image via Burst.

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How to Take Gorgeous Instagram Photos with Your Phone

Capturing a good Instagram photo with your phone is harder than it looks! To help you create an Instagram feed that makes people go “wow” (and get you more Instagram followers), we’ve put together the ultimate guide to taking and editing photos for Instagram – all from your phone! Photographer and popular Instagrammer Jordan Dyck is sharing the best kept secrets in the industry to creating good Instagram photos that you can use right now:

Photo by Jordan Dyck

Step 1: Setting up your Phone

Before you can even begin to think about composition, lighting, and editing, there are two things you need to know about how to work the camera on your phone in order to take a good Instagram photo:

1. Under-expose Your Shot

Have you ever taken a photo of a bright sky, only to realize later that half of it is over-exposed? Mobile phones tend to blow out portions of your photograph naturally, resulting in over-highlighted areas. But there’s a trick to fix this: under-exposing your shot. It’s better to have a slightly under-exposed photo that you can then brighten with editing, instead of ruining the whole shot with over-exposure.

To under-exposure your photo on an iPhone, tap and hold the brightest area of your phone, which locks in the focus and exposure. After you’ve done this, you can move your the camera around to compose the photo you want. Perfect for those product shots in the sunlight!

2. Keep HDR Off

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is hard to get right and can make a picture look unnatural and overdone. Essentially, the function takes many different exposures of the same photo, and puts them together in one photo so you have tons of details. Keep it simple, less is more when it comes to taking good Instagram photos.

Step 2: Capturing the Shot for a Good Instagram Photo

There are two key things you should think about when capturing the perfect shot: composition and lighting. If you get these functions down pat, dream-worthy Instagram photos are definitely in your future.

1. Composition

Successful composition relies on one primary goal; finding a way to direct your viewers to the subject of the photo while capturing a story or emotion. When composing a good Instagram photo, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to take your photo from “good” to “wow.”

Rule of Thirds:

The Rule of Thirds is considered the golden rule of photography. It’s applied by aligning a subject with literal guidelines and their intersection points made into squares, to allow an image to flow from section to section and create energy and interest.

Lucky for you, your phone has an amazing grid tool that does this for you. All you need to do is turn on the “grid” setting in your phone’s settings for your camera. The blogging babes over at A Beautiful Mess nailed it with this picture perfect hot air balloon, which is perfectly centered in the middle of the grid.

TIP: If you are in front of a door, stand in the middle of it and distance your grid equally for instant impact. Pay attention to every detail, and vary your subject along these lines or intersections to create interest and variation that’s appealing to your followers.

Create a Signature:

@thesaguarops Instagram feed

Having a unique style for your Instagram feed is essential to standing out and finding success on Instagram. When people visit your page, you want them to have an idea of what your work is like and what kind of content they can expect from you. Instead of thinking about each Instagram photo, think ahead and plan out your Instagram feed as a whole.

You can preview your Instagram feed using Later on your phone or desktop, so you can see how all of your photos come together, and re-arrange photos if you need to!

Learn more: 3 Steps to Plan the Perfect Instagram Feed

Stick to a Palette:

Whether it’s a color palette or a style palette, finding and sticking to a theme that works for you will make your Instagram photos really pop. A quick expert tip is to choose a warm, cold, or neutral color palette for your Instagram feed. Neutral is generally minimal and best used for fashion, lifestyle and home brands.

Warm photos are generally travel bloggers, while cold photos can best be seen in nature or landscape photographers. Sugarfina does an amazing job at showcasing a progressive color scheme that changes with seasonal campaigns. There’s an effortless transition between the styles they float between.

2. Lighting

We all know the heart-crushing feeling when you take a good Instagram photo, only to realize it’s been completely over-exposed by the sunlight, or that awesome selfie at the bar was just too dark to be Instagram-worthy. Before you start shooting, remember that if you have a badly lit photo, nothing can save it. Keep these tips in mind when planning a shoot:

Use Natural Light:

If you’re shooting on an iPhone, it can take really fantastic photos when there is enough light. When you’re shooting indoors, sit near a window and away from any artificial light that could tint your photographs yellow. Natural light photographer Corina Esquivelcaptures it perfectly with her dreamy England lifestyle photographs.

Shoot at The Right Time:

Planning to take photos at dawn or dusk will result in soft shadows and light contrasts, and there’s really nothing more important for taking a good Instagram photo than perfect light! The same benefit can be said for golden hour, where your subject can be backlit and gives you a mind-blowing result. It also saves you time with editing, like you can see in this gorgeous Madewell glow.

Cloudy vs. Sunny:

Our tip? Embrace gray weather with open arms. Cloudy days are actually excellent for shooting, because the light spreads out everywhere and you’re able to do so much more to the photograph in post-production. These are also the perfect days to take selfies!

A Few of Our Favorite Instagram Photo Types

Here’s an example of how to compose and edit stunning Instagram photos for your brand, using some classic Instagram shots:

For Foodies: The Top-Down Foodie Flatlay

How to perfect the classic, mouth-watering food shot.

  1. Find a photogenic spot. Look for wooden tables, marble slabs and anything else that might work as a simple, but textured backdrop for your food. Don’t forget to grab a seat by the window for that natural light! Soho House captures the texture of the wooden table at Pizza East with their handy iPhone.
  2. Increase: Exposure, Contrast & Sharpness. Bringing up these editing techniques just a bit will add some life to your food. But be careful not to overdo it! A few notches and you are golden.
  3. Add a little fade, which will bring the photo together for that instant wow.

For the Blogger: The Wall Backdrop

If you’re really serious about creating eye-popping Instagram photos, start mapping out every cool wall in your city for the ultimate photo fun (and engagement). Studio DIY’s Wall Crawl is a great place to start.

  1. Center your focus: pop yourself straight into the center of your frame (remember the rule of thirds) and let the wall do the work for you! Your fashion blog just hit a whole other level of cool.
  2. Bring out the wall in editing. Make the wall pop from behind you with a little increase in saturation, and play around with your temperature to find that perfect fit.

For the Traveller: Little Human, Big World

If you want to take killer Instagram photos in nature, you have to go all out. Venture to unknown cliffs and landscapes no one knew existed. Flight Centre Australia worked with influencers from around the world on their #OpenMyWorld campaign to capture some breathtaking photographs that left us all with some serious wanderlust.

  1. Find a wide backdrop. Visit National Parks, explore daisy fields, and venture out at golden hour. Wherever you find yourself, find a backdrop that’s wide enough to immerse yourself into the wild.
  2. Enter in your focal point. An open landscape shot is beautiful, but adding a little human in the distance makes your audience picture themselves there. Instant like alert.

Step 3: Post-Production & Editing Techniques

You’ve captured an awesome photo, but how do you turn it into a drool-worthy good Instagram photo? With so many editing apps available, it can be difficult to figure out where to start! Here are some of our favorite instagram photo editing apps, and some helpful tips to get the process started:

How to Use the Best Editing Apps for Mobile Photography

VSCO – An elegant, easy to use app that’s a must for every serious Instagrammer. With beautiful and minimal one-tap presets; we suggest picking a favourite preset and using the adjustable filter strength to a 4-6 to find the perfect style for your brand. If you want to make your feed consistent, sticking with the same filter or pack of filters is an easy way to make all your Instagram photos come together. They have a pretty cool community too.

Snapseed – The ultimate fine tuning app; Snapseed is an all-purpose photo editor perfect for image enhancements and corrections. We suggest using this app to crop, rotate, straighten and adjust your perspective before sending it to Instagram. Snapseed also has features you won’t find on other apps; adjust the “ambiance” of your photo for a moodier or softer vibe, or use the brush tool to brighten, darken, or saturate specific parts of your photo. You can also use the handy healing tool to edit out any blemishes or stray people who may have wandered into your shot.

A Color Story – If you love bright whites and colors that pop, this is the app for you! Each filter is created with color in mind, and their “Disco Ball” filter will instantly eliminate shadows and make your whites super white, which is perfect for product shots. You can also fine-tune your photos with their unique S-curve editing tool.

TouchRetouch – Remove any unwanted blemishes and objects from your photos with ease. Use the brush or lasso to select the object you want to remove, then let the app replace that selection with the surrounding image. Perfect for those pesky sun flares!
And of course, Instagram: Instagram’s own photo editing software has improved dramatically over the years and we highly recommend adding it to your editing lineup. Up your “lux” a bit for a quick boost to your photo, then use the in-app software to add some final touches to your brightness, contrast, or temperature.

Learn more: 13 Awesome Apps for Marketing Your Business on Instagram

Final Tips for Editing Instagram Photos on Your Phone

Just remember that a little goes along way when it comes to making a good Instagram photo. When Instagram first became popular, users went a little bit filter crazy (thank you automatic Bokeh). Finish editing your photo, and then take a step back, literally. Come back to your photograph later to check if you’ve over-edited. If you’re using any filter, keep it simple and put the scale down to a 3-6 intensity level.

With so many options, it’s easy to overdo it when it comes to photo editing. If you’re a beginner, stick to the golden three: brightness, contrast and saturation. Move between the edited and original versions to make sure you find that perfect fit for your photographs.

Later is the #1 Instagram marketing platform for business. Sign up for free to schedule Instagram posts, organize UGC, plan your feed, and more:

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Written By

Jordan Dyck

Jordan is a freelance photographer and writer based out of Vancouver Island, BC. In addition, she is the Creative Content Manager for , where she focuses on enhancing the contributor experience through education and storytelling.

In Buzz

Published Aug. 9, 2019 at 4:01 p.m.

Lately, I have been getting so many questions about the editing of my images on social media – what apps do I use, where do I find the locations, do I use presets and what I’ve learned since I started shooting everything from my iPhone! That’s right: I haven’t worked with a photographer or DSLR camera in over a year. All of my content is shot and edited straight from my phone.

Today I’m sharing the raw images – no editing, no filters – and showing you what I use to create the finished products with you all. So, you too, can have content like an influencer.

1. Get acclimated to your iPhone camera

Play around with your cameras modes. Personally, portrait mode is a fave of mine. Set the focus on your focal point for the picture – for me, it’s usually my face – which you can do by tapping the screen so the yellow box is over what you want to focus on. Adjust the lighting by moving the sun icon next to this box up and down. Then you are ready to shoot!

2. Location, location, location

So often I would get hung up on finding the perfect location or “blogger wall” – which don’t get me wrong I do still love. But one thing I learned is that you can make ANY location a great photo op if you look at it from a creative perspective and edit it right! Some of my favorite content was shot in the canned meat aisle of a dollar store. Find the right angle to shoot your image, with a good background, and be creative!

3. Make it pretty

Now you have your raw images, but they aren’t Insta-worthy yet. Time to make some tweaks and do some touchups before adding the filter to make it all aesthetically cohesive. I don’t use every app for every pic, but below is the list of apps I have and use when needed to touch up a picture.

Editing apps

  • VSCO helps adjust the lighting, saturation, exposure and more.
  • Facetune (use this sparingly) hides a zit or brightens eyes. But be careful because this app can be easily overdone.
  • Have a random person in the back of the perfect image? PicsArt lets you easily delete anything in the pic that you don’t want to be there. This also is where I get my fun add ons, like stars, sequined borders and neon outline.

4. Preset time

If you know me, you know I love Tezza and everything about her aesthetic. I use her preset Tezza app on all of my pics to make my content aesthetically cohesive. The vintage preset is life!

5. Post

Now you have a perfectly edited pic that is influencer worthy, so go ahead and post it! But remember to have fun and practice what aesthetic work best for you. Be creative and have fun!

7 Ways to Make Your Instagram Photos POP! to Get More Engagement

Instagram has quickly become a favorite social media channel for many people. Every day, millions of people share their pictures through their Instagram profiles.

The platform has also become very competitive, especially for aspiring influencers who are aiming to increase following and boost engagement rates.

You need to find innovative ways to attract more followers to your account. But how can you increase your engagement rate on Instagram?

The answer is through beautiful and engaging photos. Instagram is a visual medium to connect with your followers. Use the Instagram features correctly to get pictures worthy of posting.

If you don’t know where to start or how to make your pictures stand out from others, don’t worry. We got you.

In this post, we’ll look at seven of the best ways to make your Instagram pictures stand out from other Instagrammers.

1. Adjust Your Phone’s Camera Settings

A little knowledge on the basic camera settings will help you to achieve your goal. Most of you use your smartphones to take pictures on Instagram.

Learning about the camera settings and how they work will help you take great pictures. Here are few important tips:

Take Underexposed Photos

A lot of amateur photographers make the common mistake of taking a photo with full exposure and brightness. In the process of taking extremely bright pictures, the details and highlights of the picture get lost.

Learn to adjust the exposure of the camera and shoot your pics a little darker. You can always adjust the exposure and brighten up the subject during post-production editing.

Turn Off HDR

Always turn off HDR on your camera as it can make your photos look very overdone and processed.

The over-processed and overdone pictures won’t do much to drive engagement on your Instagram account.

Don’t Rely on Autofocus

If you are taking quick in-the-moment snaps, then it’s okay to rely on autofocus. But it’s always better to learn how to control focus manually.

Beautifully focused pictures can do a lot for your Instagram profile. And it’s quite simple to learn the manual focus feature.

All you need to do is tap on the specific feature of your subject which you want to highlight and then take the photo. You will get clean and well-focused photos for your Instagram feed.

Avoid Using Flash

Flash is useful. But sometimes, it ruins the overall quality of your photo. The flash blows out the lighting of the picture and makes it look like it was captured on a disposable camera.

If you’re interested in enhancing your photo skills, you may want to take a course in digital photography.

Otherwise, having a basic understanding of the camera settings on your smartphone will help you take great pictures for your Instagram account.

2. Don’t Overdo It with Filters

Remember, “less is more.” Sometimes using Instagram filters results in awesome images, but you don’t have to use filters just for the sake of it. And if you are using filters, don’t get carried away.

Too strong of a filter on your picture can ruin the natural lighting. So, if you are using one, don’t overdo it by applying the filter to its fullest intensity. Stop the intensity of the filter the moment you start noticing the picture getting deviating from natural lighting.

Keep experimenting with different levels of filters to identify the ideal level to use in your pictures. Once you select your favorite filter, tap the thumbnail next to that filter. You can see the slider, which you can drag to control or adjust the intensity of the filter.

Also, be mindful when selecting filters to ensure they align with the overall theme of your Instagram feed.

Go ahead and start experimenting with different filters until you find a suitable one. The right combination of filters with the right theme and composition will make your Instagram feed look consistent, which will also positively impact your engagement rate on Instagram.

Image Source – Instagram

3. Turn Your Phone Upside Down

Say, what? Instagram is a visual platform, so you need to make sure that everything you post is attractive enough to generate engagement. One of the best ways to take interesting photos is adding foreground elements to it.

Taylor Rees is a well-known photographer with 126K followers on her Instagram handle. She suggests flipping the mobile upside down and taking pictures of your subject from the ground. According to Taylor, this is the best way of adding foreground elements.

A photo taken from the ground is more interesting, as the audience gets a better look at the object. It gives more depth to the picture and the ground works as a clever foreground element. So, pictures like this can boost your engagement rate on Instagram.

This tactic works for all kinds of objects, treating a table, railing, or desk as the “ground” of your shot. The picture shown below is one of the best examples to this. The picture is taken from the ground, adding more depth and meaning to the it.

Image Source – pixlilli – Boba fee

4. Use Instagram Stories Like a Pro

Did you know that 300 million people use Instagram Stories on a daily basis? Instagram Stories have become very popular, and they are attractive and engaging. If you are still not using Instagram Stories, it’s probably time to start.

It’s fun to post Instagram Stories and tell your audience what you are up to. It will also help you to increase the number of followers you have and your engagement rate.

But there is a catch to this. The images and videos are only visible for 24 hours. So, basically, your Instagram Stories will be like a traveling exhibit if your feed is like a curated gallery.

If you want some assistance to make an absolutely perfect and engaging Instagram Story, you can use third-party apps. Apps like InShot, PicPlayPost, Mendr, or CutStory can improve the impact of your Instagram Stories to make them more engaging.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these apps, and how you can use each to improve your engagement rate on Instagram.

1. InShot

The Inshot app can help you crop your videos and pictures to fit into the vertical aspect ratio of Instagram. It allows you to alter the ratio of your pictures and videos and easily post them on your Instagram account.

This app also gives you the opportunity to explore your creative side. It allows you to add emojis, GIFs, or even text to your pictures and videos. The best feature is you can easily edit your videos within the app itself.

The app has a range of beautiful effects and filters, which you can add to your Instagram videos to make them more engaging, appealing, and attractive. You can download the app for free, and it’s available on the Android and iOS platforms.

Image Source – InShot

2. PicPlayPost

You can use the PicPlayPost app to create an attractive collage with your videos or pictures. Then you can share them as engaging posts or Stories with your followers. You don’t have to worry if you’re not a professional editor, because this is an easy-to-use vertical video editor.

This app can also help you convert your clips and pictures into a lovely video collage. You can also take GIFs or audio tracks and convert them into a long slideshow or montage. This app is free to download and is available for both iOS and Android users.

Image Source – PicPlayPost

3. Mendr

Mendr is a photo editing app that connects you to the best professional photo editors who handle all your photo editing needs for you. It’s super affordable to hire one of Mendr’s experts, and all you have to do is upload your image to the app and let the pros know what edits you’d like to see.

And if you’re not sure what type of edits will make your photo pop, you can share notes and reference photos to describe your style, then leave it to the professionals to make the proper edits. You get your edited photo back within minutes. You can download the app for free from the iOS and Android app stores.

4. CutStory

You would probably agree that 15 seconds is not enough to record a video and effectively relay your message. But don’t you worry. You can use the CutStory app to shoot and record using your camera app. And later on, you can upload it as your Instagram Story.

With the help of this app, you can flawlessly cut your videos into exact 15-second segments. And upload them back to back. In a way, this app allows you to share your entire video in the form of mini clips.

You can the app for free from the Apple store.

Image Source – CutStory

5. Use Your Caption Space Cleverly

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but you are hugely mistaken if you think that your captions are not as important as your pictures. Use the caption space very cleverly to engage your followers.

It doesn’t matter if you have a few hundred or thousands of followers. Always decide on captions which will help you get the attention of your followers. You can put an interesting fact or pose a question. Make sure that you write something more than just a simple description of the picture.

Hashtags are also an interesting way of getting the attention of Instagram users. Using relevant hashtags can even help you gain new followers and boost your engagement rate. You will need to do a little research and find out the top trending hashtags related to your topic.

Also, remember not to flood all of your captions with the alloted 30 hashtags. That’s going to look spammy and messy, and it doesn’t give a good first impression. Add the most important hashtags in the caption. Then add a comment to your post using other relevant hashtags.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the caption of the post is very minimalistic. And they have only used the most relevant hashtags in the caption.

Image Source – Instagram

6. Use Grids

When you take a picture with your smartphone’s camera, you can turn on the grid feature. Use this. The grid will help you center your subject exactly in the middle of the frame. You can also follow the rule of thirds to ensure that your picture composition is correct and to the point.

Image Source – photographylife.com

Grids can also help you align all of the elements of the picture, making it a perfect Instagram post. Using grids will enhance the overall composition of the picture and its effect.

The lines of the grids will also help you straighten out any lines in your photo. When cropping the pictures, use grids. This will help you maintain consistency in your pictures. Consistency is important as it will make your pictures look nicer and will improve how your feed looks.

Regardless of any type of photography, the grid feature can really enhance the overall impact of the picture. This, in turn, will increase your followers and boost your engagement rate.

Image Source – Zach Dischner

7. Aim for Quality Over Quantity

If you want to increase your engagement rate on Instagram, then you need to make sure that your audience gets what they’re looking for from your feed. Don’t get too excited or eager to post your photos right after you’ve taken them.

Instead, focus on the quality of your photos rather than quantity. Make you feed similar to a curated gallery rather than just dumping some random photos. This is not what people would like to see when they visit your Instagram profile.

If you want your Instagram feed to be focused on one theme, ask yourself what it will be. It could be about nature, adventure, fashion, beauty, parenting, pets, etc. Deciding on a theme can help you to decide on a signature style.

You can do things that are dark and moody or bright and colorful. These factors will help you decide on what sort of photos you want to post and share with your followers. These small yet crucial factors, when done correctly, can boost your engagement rate.

Are You All Set to Boost Your Engagement Rate?

Instagram is continuously reinventing itself and evolving. The app is no longer just a photo sharing app, it has grown to be more than that. It offers many opportunities to showcase your individuality and creativity.

Now that you know some of the best tricks and tips to increase engagement, go ahead and get started. These tips are very simple to implement. But when done correctly, they can increase your followers and boost your engagement.

Do you know of any other effective ways to make your Instagram pictures stand out and increase engagement rates? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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A quick glance through my Instagram feed & it’s not hard to decipher what I’m all about. Food, kiddos, cute shoes & food. When I first started snapping pics of food on my feed, they really weren’t anything special. It wasn’t until I started applying the same principles to iPhoneography that I used in shooting food with my DSLR, that people really started to take notice of what I was snapping. By working to create an inspirational foodie feed, I’ve been able to grow, make connections & push myself further & further with creativity. Every day I get to create a tiny image of beautiful food that people can come back to view again & again. I’m going to share some of the secrets & tricks I’ve learned along the way to help you create beautiful food Instagram feed! All images shown here were taken with my iPhone 5.

Read more food photography tips – Eat Pretty Things.

Food photography: 7 tips for Instagram

1. Look for natural light
Too often, when we’re snapping food with our phones, we forget one of the most important factors in getting a great image – light! Turn off those harsh, overhead, indoor lights. This will help keep your shots from looking flat or having unappetizing color casts. Try & find your best source of natural light in your house. I typically snap all my food shots on the floor of my eat in kitchen area where I have 4 windows & curtains to help adjust my light. I set up my shot just outside of the bright light that spills in. I want the light to be in my shot but not so harsh it gets blown out.


I don’t take many food pics when I’m at a restaurant, mainly because it can be disruptive to other people & I’m too busy wrangling 4 children anyway. If you happen to be at a restaurant & feel comfortable, try & find a good window seat. Sitting next to a big, bright window will help keep your image well lit but too often restaurants also have yellowish overhead lights above each table. In this shot, we were the only people at the ice cream shop so I used one hand to cover the light bulb that was hanging directly over our table & the other hand to snap the shot. You can still see a slightly yellow color cast next to my coffee, but I only took one shot & my hand was able to cover most of the bulb.

2. Use a reflector
If you’d use a reflector in dlsr photography, why not in iPhoneography! You don’t even need to buy a real reflector if you’re not sure you’ll use it. I use an inexpensive piece of foam board I got from a craft store! After finding the best spot of natural light to set up my shot, I get out my reflectors.

By moving my reflector board around I can bounce the window light into the shadows in my frame. Sometimes I’ll even use two reflectors if my props start to create unwanted shadows. I also keep an inexpensive, sheer curtain panel handy to help diffuse the outdoor light.

3. Take time to compose a shot
It might surprise you but I do actually take the time to set up each of my food shots. Sometimes it’s as simple as using a single item thoughtfully, like my son’s half eaten cookie.

Other times it’s a full blown food styling session complete with props, linens & fancy plates.

Either way, it’s important to take the time to compose each shot instead of just snapping your morning cereal straight on, in your bowl. Use ideas like the rule of thirds or leading lines to serve as inspiration.

4. Tell a story
This is my favorite thing about food styling. I love telling stories with my food shots. Sometimes it’s setting the scene for my 4 year old’s birthday breakfast. Every meal in our house is crazy & chaotic – we have 4 kids! I wanted to convey both the celebration & the messiness of our meals – every meal with little kids, really. Also, the birthday boy has a serious dino obsession so no image of his morning was going to happen without a dinosaur or two.

This story is about showing how we eat on a road trip. When we travel it’s easier to hit the rest stops for snacks & running off steam. I love that my youngest son is sitting on the table – the only way he could compete with getting any food next to my older kids. Also, even though most of our food has to be packaged on the road, we still make an attempt to eat as healthy as possible.


Even just giving a sneak peak into how we cook when we’re camping tells a story. Fresh fish on the charcoal fire pit, sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, green grass & of course, my Birkies. Story telling is a great way to connect with your audience as well as pull them into each photo so they want to know more!

5. Do something unusual
This is where you get to step outside of showing your bacon & eggs every morning for breakfast. Do something creative & unusual that you might not think of initially. Using a condiment? Write out a message in mustard.

For the 4th of July I hadn’t made any festive desserts or red, white & blue anything that day but knowing I wanted to post something I just lined up some fresh cherries into a 4!

Another time this worked great for me was when I didn’t have any ingredients to make frosting for my daughter’s birthday cake so instead I just cut up some fresh fruit & it created this beautiful image on the cake.

6. Don’t be afraid of shadows
I started the post talking about natural light & trying to get the best light possible, but I don’t want to encourage you to shy away from the shadows either! You may be surprised to see how using shadows & the right apps to edit your pictures, you can create a contrasted image quite easily.

When working with split lighting, decide where you’d like your phone to ‘meter’ off of. Yes, your phone can actually meter off light in the image! By tapping any section of the image on your screen you’ll see the image adjust to whatever light you touched. Want to add more light to your image? Tap the darkest shadows on your screen. Want to get more shadow? Tap the brightest light. Don’t just stop there though. You can adjust your light levels by tapping any section of the image on the screen. If I’m shooting something where I want contrast lighting I will usually take 2 images. One bright & one much darker. Then I edit the best one in an app. It’s very easy to add light back into an image but it’s much harder to bring something back from being blown out or over exposed.

7. Use the right apps
The thing I love about Instagram is that your food doesn’t have to look the same way it does when you’re shooting with a DSLR. It naturally won’t be as sharp & your white balance won’t be perfect but there are some apps that have great filters that can help you come close. The biggest concern when choosing the right filter is you don’t want to pick one that’s tinted that will make your food look pink, blue or purple. I also like to use multiple apps to get just the right look. I know, it’s fussy, but once you get used to the filters you love, it’s easy!

I typically use Snapseed first. Once I’m in there I can adjust my brightness, contrast & temperature. I also can rotate my image or correct the horizon. Once I’m done there, I’ll open Afterlight & choose a couple of my favorite filters to layer. I really like the ‘relic’ & ‘russ’ filters.

Do you love snapping food with your phone? Leave a comment with your best tip below.

There’s no denying the huge appetite (pun intended) for food posts on Instagram, with chefs, bloggers, producers and home cooks all snapping, sharing and liking on the image-led platform. A staggering 500 million people worldwide use Instagram, and of these, 300 million open the app every single day, including us – follow at @bbcgoodfood. We asked some of the most successful Instagrammers for their secrets to capturing that perfect food photo…

Clerkenwell Boy, restaurant & travel Instagrammer

Soft, natural light is best. Ask for a table by the window if possible and always try to shoot your photos during the day time. Decide on the style and composition of your photo: (i) top down, (ii) 45 degree angle or (iii) super close up. Play around with negative space (the area in between and around objects) and use symmetry or the rule of thirds to structure and balance your images. When styling your table, add elements that evoke the mood of the cuisine such as flowers, cutlery, herbs, spices or fresh ingredients. When sharing, geotag the location so that others can find it via Google maps, and tag the restaurant or bar so others can easily connect and follow your recommendations. Tell a story through your posts by finding your personal niche and style – you could provide a description of your favourite dish on the menu, share a recipe, or describe a personal story or memory.

Follow Clerkenwell Boy on Instagram at @clerkenwellboyec1.

Symmetry Breakfast, food Instagrammer

Think of yourself before your audience. Eat and cook what you think is delicious, not what you think will get likes. As long as you aim for substance over style in the content you post, you will develop your unique signature later (I promise)! Be passionate about researching ingredients, cooking techniques and tools, but don’t break the bank. An expensive piece of kit might sound like a good investment, but so is a good knife or pan. Start small and grow over time – becoming an expert at what you do takes patience but there is always something new to learn. Be inspired but don’t copy. There are lots of great accounts for home cooking, restaurants, healthy eating and so on, but establishing a point of difference takes some market research. Finally, use the Instagram editing tools to correct, not enhance, the photo. A phone camera doesn’t ‘see’ the world like the human eye, but there is no way that avocado was that green!

Follow Symmetry Breakfast on Instagram at @symmetrybreakfast.

Lily Vanilli, baker & cake designer

Bear in mind how your Instagram feed looks as a whole, because this is what people first see when deciding whether to follow you – if the images don’t flow nicely together it can look a bit of a mess. To achieve this, shoot against a consistent backdrop or colour as much as possible. Whether you’re going rustic kitchen table or clean, fresh and white, stick with it and create a style for your account. Steer clear of filters as a rule, and also be wary of warm tones or yellow lighting. Use an editing app like Snapseed to crop, brighten and up the saturation on your images, and go for a consistent finish across your posts. I also use natural lighting pretty much without exception, which means thinking carefully about timing in the winter months!

Follow Lily on Instagram at @lily_vanilli_cake.

Marina O’Loughlin, BBC Good Food contributing editor

Don’t spam people. When on trips abroad, I have to restrain myself from uploading every beautiful dish I eat, or sight I see. Fewer and carefully edited is better than dozens a day. Take as many snaps as your patience (and your friends’ patience) will allow, then choose the best – don’t snap straight from Instagram. Don’t overuse hashtags – this looks a bit screechy. If you’re eating out, go at lunchtime – the natural daylight is much better, especially now when the most fashionable restaurants are, well, fashionably dimly-lit. Use zoom – it’s a really useful tool for getting rid of pesky shadows. (Also, beware of pesky shadows.) I like Instagram’s edit feature better than the filters. Filters tend to give everything a homogenous feel, whereas judicious use of edit – crop, brighten, contrast and saturation are my favourites – make pictures more ‘your own’. Finally, restaurant dishes tend to look better photographed from above, but there’s really no need – as I witnessed at Morito recently – for the snapper to stand on the chair.

Follow Marina on Instagram at @marinagpoloughlin.

Edd Kimber, baker & food writer

Edit lightly. Instagram’s built-in filters can reduce the quality of the photo rather than enhancing it, so I edit with an app called VSCO which gives you great control. Always avoid flash – on a phone it always creates an ugly artificial look that makes the food look unappealing. Overhead shots can be easier to take and look great on Instagram. Most importantly, don’t take it too seriously. I see people taking lighting and all manner of kit into restaurants, which seems silly to me. Instagram is meant to be fun – if you spend too much time thinking about it your feed will end up forced and generic.

Follow Edd on Instagram at @theboywhobakes.

Gizzi Erskine, chef & food writer

Good photography comes down to a good eye. Many people think they’re good at shooting food but few are and I think it’s simply in how you see the world. I don’t think it’s something you can learn per se… Instagram is a way for people to see the world through your eyes so make the set-ups as honest as they can be. When you watch the ‘uber-bloggers’ and ‘instagrammers’ they shoot in a second as they know what they’re after – it’s got to come naturally to you. My tip to make things look great is to always shoot in day light. And choose a filter that makes the food ping and not the plate or back ground. I like Nashville. I think it’s as simple as that.

Follow Gizzi on Instagram at @gizzierskine.

Cassie Best, BBC Good Food food editor

Keep it real. Food looks most delicious when it’s messy, drippy and oozy, so don’t try to make it look too perfect. A tip that I’ve picked up on photo shoots is not to overfill the plate. Give the food space to breathe and it’ll look all the more beautiful for it. Keep crockery and cutlery simple – intricate designs can dominate the image and make the food look fussy. Good lighting is everything! If you’re shooting outside, take the snap with the sun behind you, it’ll highlight the food and help pick up all the beautiful details. Yellow tones can make the image look dated and bleak, so to counter this, I usually drop the warmth and increase the saturation in the self-edit options. My final tip is to clean your camera lens before you start snapping. Most phones are buried in bags or pockets all day and accumulate a layer of dirt. A quick buff on a clean cloth can make all the difference to the clarity of the image.

Follow Cassie on Instagram at @cassiecooks.

Sam Stern, chef & food writer

Think about presentation when you are plating. That might mean holding off on the full portion size or keeping certain ingredients of the dish separate instead of mixing it all in, so they can stand out and pop in the final image. For example, pasta dishes can look messy if you just pile it on the plate. Setting aside ingredients such as capers, tomatoes and basil for the top allows them to stand out and really pop, so keep some final garnishes such as chopped fresh herbs on hand. I don’t use the Instagram filters 99% of the time. Use an app like Snapseed or Afterlight to customise your image – these give more of a professional look. Finally, experiment with different angles. Above is always nice but coming in from the side can give more of an impactful image – get creative!

Follow Sam on Instagram at @sam_stern.

Ed Smith, chef & food writer

Great photos can be taken with minimal fuss. First of all, if you’re dining with friends or in a restaurant, never let taking a photo overtake the purpose of your meal – it’s all about enjoying the taste of the food and the company of others. I’m not a fan of moving plates around, standing up or generally causing a scene in the hope of gaining a few extra ‘likes’. Have a think about which angle will look best before whipping the phone out. In terms of editing, I don’t think pre-set filters ever look particularly good, but I do use Instagram’s manual edit filters. I try to be relatively consistent and tweak the same settings each time – generally ‘brightness’, ‘lux’, and occasionally add a little ‘structure’, more ‘shadows’ and ‘sharpness’. All the time my thought process is to try and ensure the food still looks as natural as possible. Ultimately, just enjoy taking pictures of food and occasionally posting your favourite ones. And remember, don’t let the act of taking the photo become more of an event than the meal or moment.

Follow Ed on Instagram at @rocketandsquash.

Alpana Deshmukh, food & travel Instagrammer

Get familiar with your phone’s functionality – turn on the gridlines; tap the screen to focus before shooting; consider using the AE/AF lock to fix the exposure and focus. Look for visually interesting backgrounds to add another dimension to your shot – in bars, cafes and restaurants, I’ll keep an eye out for graphic tiled floors, colourful wallpapers, textured walls and table tops. You don’t have to always shoot where you are served; I have been known to (discreetly) pick up my glass or dish and wander over to a different space in the venue to capture more light or a photogenic background. Judge your environment; you don’t want to cause a commotion taking pictures and distracting other diners!

Follow Alpana on Instagram at @alpana.deshmukh.

Niomi Smart, lifestyle vlogger

Shoot from the side. Overhead shots of food look great, but it’s also lovely to get some of the background scenery into the shot to add context, especially when you’re out and about or abroad. If you find yourself somewhere picturesque, take the shot at a slight side angle so that you can appreciate the beautiful surroundings but also have a clear view of the delicious food.

Follow Niomi on Instagram at @niomismart.

Rosie Birkett, BBC Good Food contributing editor

Think about the composition. Try making use of asymmetry and negative space – don’t be afraid to leave some space on one side as this can add interest. It’s important to make sure the shot is well lit so that the ingredients can really stand out. Use natural light and find a spot by the window if possible.

Follow Rosie on Instagram at @rosiefoodie.
Inspired to get snapping? Read our top tips on how to photograph food, or find out what it’s like to work as a professional food photographer or food stylist.

What are your tips for taking the perfect photo for Instagram? Let us know in the comments below…

How To Get The Most Likes For Your Food Instagram Posts

When it comes to food, there are certain questions people ask over and over. How many ounces are in a cup? Eight. Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder? Yes, if you up the acidity to offset the baking soda with something like cream of tartar. How do I get my eyes to stop watering while I cut onions? Sharpen your knife or try one of these surprising onion cutting tricks. These days, in addition to asking classic cooking questions, people also wonder how to get Instagram likes with food pics. Actually, let me rephrase that: People wonder how to get lots of likes on Instagram with food pics. And how to get more followers on Instagram in the foodie community, too.

These days, we’re basically all competing with the Instagram Egg. In case you missed it, back in January, World Record Egg became the most liked picture on Instagram ever. The Instagram Egg dethroned Kylie Jenner as the most liked Instagram post and now, we’re all just trying to keep up. So, if you’re wondering how to get more Instagram likes on your food pics, we have some tips that can help. You might not become World Record Egg famous, but why not try?

First, opt for natural lighting.

Unless you’re using a professional camera or you have an excellent smartphone camera, most dimly-lit restaurant pictures don’t turn out well, no matter how delicious the food. As an alternative, consider ‘gramming your boozy brunch instead of your bestie’s birthday dinner. The lighting will be much better.

Learn to get clever with lighting tricks.

If you absolutely must photograph your delicious dinner, there are some simple lighting tricks that will improve the quality of your shot. If there’s a candle on the table, you can use it for some extra backlighting. Or, have a friend turn on their flash for an extra lighting boost.

Photograph your plate from the top down.

Nine times out of 10, the best plate pics are taken from above. Don’t worry; nobody’s judging you. We all do it.

Or, snap it straight on.

You can also get a great shot if you take it straight on. Hold your phone perfectly upright and in line with your dish, and your followers will take note.

Edit the photo.

Even the best food pics need a little bit of editing. Free apps like VSCO and Adobe Lightroom will transform your shots from dull to delicious.

But when you edit, use more than just filters.

Filters are fine, but they’re more of a starting point than a finished product. Experiment with contrast, color balance, saturation, sharpness, and highlights and shadows. They’ll really make your food pics pop.

Play with focus.

These adorable macarons are clearly the stars of the shot. Though the other elements on the table are out of focus, they still add nice context and texture.

Add hashtags.

It’s Instagram 101, but the advice still stands: If you want more people to see your food pictures, include food-related hashtags. Popular food hashtags include #foodie, #foodporn, and #foodgasm.

Tag food accounts.

Tagging popular food accounts is a great way for your food pics to reach a bigger audience. Did you cook a new recipe? Tag where you found it. Are you at a restaurant? Tag it. Do you follow any foodies or food influencers who re-share yummy food pics? Tag them, too. You never know who will see—and re-gram—your photos.

Tag your location, too.

If you took the photo at a restaurant, don’t forget to add the location so the owners and your fellow patrons can see it. Again, it’s Instagram 101, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t do it.

But remember: Less is more.

If you edit your photo too much, your followers will be able to tell. If you use too many hashtags, it can come across as #thirsty. Find a balance that feels authentic and you’ll be #winning.

Spend time on your caption.

While the focus is on your food pic, you can’t overlook the caption. Take a few extra moments to think of something quick and clever. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Like other people’s food pics.

Explore food hashtags and like what you see. The more photos you like, the greater the chance of broadening your own audience.

See foodie photo opportunities everywhere.

Sometimes, the best food pics aren’t of a finished dish. Instead, they’re of the prep that helped you get there.

The next time you see a great food pic on Instagram, take a moment to consider what you like about it. Is it a great angle? Good lighting? A nice composition? Take notes from food accounts you admire and apply their techniques to your own pics. You’ll be a foodie #influencer before you know it.

Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley is as sunny, wholesome and Instagram-worthy as you’d expect

If you don’t know who the Hemsley + Hemsley sisters are, I can only assume you’ve been living in a wi-fi-free cave for the past two years. They are the spiralising, bone-broth-drinking, eternally perky poster girls for healthy eating. They’ve written for Vogue, have two hugely successful cookery books to their name and have recently opened a cafe in Selfridges. Now they are making their small-screen debut on Channel 4.

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“We didn’t want it to be a traditional cooking show. We wanted it to have a sense of adventure,” Melissa tells us. “Hopefully you can see the reality of what we get up to which is that we love to cook but we’re not the best cooks in the world. We’re home cooks, we taught ourselves. Sometimes we forget to add certain ingredients. I really think we should release bloopers of this…”

“In some ways it was a bit like a reality TV show,” laughs Jasmine. Each episode of Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley is half cookery demo, half shots of the girls sourcing ingredients. It’s as sunny, wholesome and aesthetically pleasing as you’d expect. The sisters wander around an Instagram-worthy version of London, buying organic vegetables, stretching their long limbs and feasting on nutrient-rich lunches.

Their approach, they insist, is simple – “We’re going to show you how easy it is. No skills required!” – and revolves around really good quality food. “If you’ve got great ingredients you don’t need to do much to them,” says Melissa.

Theirs is a health conscious, gluten-free, sugar-free way of living, but it’s not about weight loss or deprivation. “It’s about real food. Counting calories is not a way of determining what food you should be eating,” says Jasmine. And they don’t like the term ‘clean eating.’ “I’d call it sensible eating,” she says. “Connecting with your food, knowing how to make better choices. There’s a growing collective consciousness that understands real food makes you feel really good. Food fuels you, repairs you. What you put in is going to have a massive impact on the way you think and the way you feel.”

Whether or not you’ve bought into the Hemsley + Hemsley food revolution, there’s no denying that, over the past few years, they, and other famous foodies like them, have had a huge impact on the way we eat.

“When our first book came out in 2014 we were really conscious of using ingredients we really believed in but also that people would find easy to get. I remember our publisher saying, ‘I don’t know how easy it’s going to be for everyone to find coconut oil.’ By the time our book had been out for about 6 weeks all the shops were selling coconut oil.

“I laugh when I see courgetti or cauliflower rice being sold packaged in a supermarket. It’s mental,” says Melissa. “For anyone who knows about courgetti they know they can make it at home. But at the same time, for anyone who doesn’t know about it or has never thought about it, that’s an amazing thing.”

“If the books and bookshops are selling healthy eating and making it look wonderful, the supermarkets get behind it.”

The Hemsley’s world domination is undoubtedly a family affair. Jasmine and Melissa come as a pair, with the former admitting having her sister around “definitely” helps with the nerves of filming.

Their new Channel 4 show will see appearances from their other halves too. “Our boyfriends are there in the work out episode. You can spot them because they are the ones going the wrong way when everyone else is going the right way!” laughs Melissa. And their mum, who they credit for teaching them to cook, also pops by during one episode.

“Our mum made us nervous when she came in! She wouldn’t do what we told her to do which was really embarrassing in front of all of our team,” says Melissa. “We had no authority over her! She completely disregarded everything we said. She spent ages getting her make up done, wouldn’t leave the make up chair… We did this scene where she walks in. We were trying to film her greeting us and she was like, ‘But I’ve already said hello to you.’”

The sisters say they might get together as a family to watch the first episode, but the idea of being on TV is making them “freak out.”

“I think I might squeal the whole way through. I’ll probably have a pillow over my face,” laughs Melissa, admitting she’ll be swapping their trademark Quicker Than Toast courgetti for something a little more indulgent…

“I think I’m going to have a really large glass of red wine and then watch it,” she says.

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Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley starts on Monday at 8:00pm on Channel 4

Instagram pictures of food

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