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Conquering Instagram: Mastering the food photos on your Instagram feed

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As you might know, I am addicted to my Instagram feed. I follow some of the most amazing food stylists and photographers and foodies on the planet. It’s actually a great way to learn about how to style and photograph your own food captures, so start following foodies. In the meantime, I want to share my hard and fast rules for capturing food and making your feed an all around yummy place to be.

You’ll be conquering instagram and mastering the food photos on your Instagram feed, in no time! Here are a few of my basic rules to follow when shooting food to posts, in order of importance:

1.Become familiar with the Settings on Instagram:  For an Instagram photo, start by using the camera on your iPhone, do not use the camera on your Instagram app, and set your iPhone camera on the square setting. The square setting guarantees that your capture will fit into the square supplied on the Instagram photo template. You then import your camera capture into the Instagram app. You can crop using your fingers, then use the edit features on the Instagram app to achieve your desired contrast, lighting, and color saturation. I do use the filters, however, I love using the tools feature most often. It’s the blue button. Use the BRIGHTNESS button to achieve the most pleasing brightness or darkness to your image.

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IMG_7230 Before: This is the iPhone shot before uploading to the Instagram app

IMG_7231 After: Enlarging and darkening the image

IMG_7364 Before: Shot from the iPhone; it’s not always necessary to show the full plate, and cutting the circles in half are more interesting visually.

IMG_7365 After: Darkening the image with the brightness button and adding a filter on Instagram creates drama with a rather boring image.

2. It’s all about LIGHT– lighting is the most important thing in photography period. Whether it is light and bright images or moody dark dramatic light, light is the key. When shooting a plate, make sure that there is light on the food. Light will bring out the color and the highlights. Bright spots are appetizing when it comes to food. Annoying as it is sometimes, I have been known to move my plate at a restaurant or the dinner table into a spot where the plate is lit. Move your plate!

Bright LIGHT

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Darkness: Sometimes, to create a dramatic capture, I opt to make the image dark. This is where the settings on Instagram come in handy: use them to darken your capture. It works really well with dark food. Remember, it is an artistic choice. Make sure you have a variety of light and dark on your Instagram feed, it tends to make your feed less boring. Nothing worse than following someone who takes the exact same photograph, with the same angle, and the same light. Remember to mix it up!

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3. Try Styling your plate: As a food stylist, I have my fingers in food all the time. When I shoot a plate of food, I literally arrange the food with my hands. I wipe down the spills and drips (unless they are part of the “look”) and add herbs or greenery to the food. If it’s all one color, like chili for example, I might add the salsa on top, or cheese or a avocado or guacamole to add some brightness. A fork or a napkin or crinkle cloth is also a nice addition.

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4. Composition: Always keep it simple and apply the basic rules of composition *see my basic styling rules here . Leave plenty of space around the plate or glass. For a table shot with lots of plates, a down shot is the best choice. There are 3 basic angles when shooting food a down shot, a cross shot, and editorial.

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5. Angle choices are key : When shooting a plate of food, you have 3 choices: a down shot or a cross shot or editorial

Cross Shot is more environmental. It show a sense of place, and it’s great when you’re in a beautiful or colorful setting, or the food is colorful, like a party setting. It is also great if food is less appetizing to include some of the environment.

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Down Shot Is the easiest choice. it’s sort of a no fail approach. When I teach styling photography workshops, students tend to shy away from cross shots as they are more difficult, so when in doubt, do a down shot! It is just more graphic. It is always my choice for less attractive food like a bowl of stew. *see light tip above for unattractive food. Down shots are fun for party scenes as well because it shows the aftermath of a party. It shows lots of action.

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Editorial Shot This is a great way to warm up food shots by giving them some life. A hand placed on the table, or a waiter walking by in a restaurant. This takes a bit of skill as you have to place your plate and wait for the person to walk by.

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I hope that these tips help your Instagram feed become a yummy place to be. Beautiful food photos are easy to master once you use my tips.

Remember keep your feed interesting and appetizing.

For my Styling and Photography Workshop check my page here. I hope you can come on a Food Styling Adventure with us in the near future!

See you on IG xx

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