The appetite for posting and consuming stunning photos of food cooked at home and in restaurants is at an all-time high thanks to Instagram or insta-gratification as I like to call it. Can you believe that more than 500 million people love to snap, upload, storyboard, swipe up, down and comment on this social photo app across the globe, with three-fifths of these using the app daily to take snapshots of their lives.
Given that you’re here on the Supercharged couch with me, it’s likely you're as keen as mustard about food as we are. That’s why we’ve pulled out all the stops to create an ‘Instagram 101’ article for those of you who want to shout loud and proud about their culinary talents, flavoursome photos and random sprinkling of salt from a great height on ‘the ‘Gram’.
Natural light can really make your dishes shine
It doesn’t matter whether you are taking snaps from your kitchen or a restaurant, the success of most Insta-foodies relies heavily on soft natural light. Many Instagrammers will only take photos of their food in daytime when the natural light is plentiful. If you're visiting a restaurant, ideally you should request a table close to a window or door to enable light to flood across your dishes.
Natural light is especially effective at allowing colorful dishes and ingredients to shine. Take my roasted vegetable stock as an example, which benefits from natural light kissing the darkened pot and bringing all those delicious vegetables to life.
Don’t over-edit your photos
There is a tendency with some Instagrammers to go heavy on the filters of their food photos. In fact, some of the filters can spoil the quality of the images instead of enhancing them. Instagrammer @theboywhobakes recommends avoiding using your smartphone’s flash too as it can also create an artificial appearance to your dishes. Photo editing apps like VSCO are said to be very effective at giving you the control you need without your feed becoming too staged and force fed.
Get inspiration from photographers of other still objects
Photographing still objects or people doesn’t have to be difficult. There are photographers who manage to capture the essence of various hobbies and industries that don’t require people jumping around or moving fast like professional athletes. Take poker for instance, which by its very nature is a sedentary pastime. Poker photographers make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas each year for the World Series of Poker, with ‘Sin City’ considered the mecca of this pastime among the poker fraternity. They manage to capture the essence and drama of poker tournaments often through anticipation and timing. By understanding how each player displays emotion after winning and losing hands, it’s possible to use their tendencies to anticipate the perfect shot of elation, resignation or downright despair.
Don’t stress about making your photos too perfect
Food looks at its most delicious when it is served and presented authentically. Whether it’s oozing with sauce or dripping with juice, make sure your photos demonstrate all aspects of your dish. This can certainly make your meals appear more wholesome and genuine, particularly if it’s home-cooked fare. If there’s a lot going on the plate, be sure to give it room to breathe. Try not to overcrowd it with other accessories like crockery and table decorations – let the plate do the talking. A picture is worth a thousand words after all!
Snap what you like, not what you think will get likes
A trap that many food Instagrammers fall into too easily is trying to take shots of food that they think their target demographic will like, not what they like. What really builds Instagram followings is authenticity. Although magazines like Elle recommend that you focus on meals that work aesthetically for Instagram, many users will be able to see through this insincerity. People will follow your feed if they see passion and love for what you cook and devour. Eat and create the food that you find delicious, not what you believe others find tasty. Be original with your feed. The last thing you want is to be a carbon copy of someone else.
Acquaint yourself with your phone’s photography features
Before you start spamming your Instagram feed with dishes, make sure you understand the full power of your smartphone’s photo functionality. Get to grips with using exposure and focus with your lenses and start to have fun with the kind of backdrops that can help your food sing on-screen. It doesn’t matter whether it’s tablecloths, tiled floors or textured wallpaper, it’s all about investing time and energy in creating the perfect environment for your food.
Enjoy creating and sharing your images!