Tag Archives: instagram

Conquering Instagram: Mastering the food photos on your Instagram feed


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.


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


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.

IMG_7158 IMG_6904


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.

IMG_8736 IMG_7827 PotsDeCreme

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.

IMG_7501 IMG_7372

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.

IMG_7488 IMG_8312 IMG_7235

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.

IMG_9318 IMG_4480 IMG_4469

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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Prop/Food Styling Photography Trends :: Instagram as a Stylist/Photographer’s Tool

2014-05-14_15-55-25 My styling for Picture Perfect Parties

As most of you know, I have been in the styling photography world for 25 years (that makes me a dinosaur). I worked in the industry when the word “stylist” was unknown; there were not many of us, and we worked in the dark (literally and figuratively). It was way before social media followed our every move. I love social media, and as you know, I am obsessed with Instagram.

I love it because I feel so much more in touch with trends, and the trends are much more immediate as people are inspired by each other within moments of seeing each other’s work. After all, trying to learn the latest “looks” when you’re stylist is part of the job. Instagram is a fantastic stylist tool.

Styling trends were not a thing many years ago. Everyone operated in their own creative bubble. Plus servicing clients and their visual needs was first and foremost. A stylist needed to be able to be super versatile, and implement many styles since clients all wanted different looks.

My theory is Gourmet Magazine started the “dark still life” trend. They introduced this ground breaking imagery right before they shuttered in 2009. I remember thinking that the dark and messy stylized imagery was amazing, and so different from all the other food magazines in print at the time.


hummus090810_560 shots from Gourmet Magazine  the start of the dark and messy trend in styling and photography (2009)

Then Australian Photographer/Stylist Katie Quinn Davies, “What Katie Ate,” took dark and messy to the next level and was mimicked by nearly everyone, including me, over the past 3 years.



RECIPE-DAY-2-1 Katie Quinn Davies

Here are a few more current photographs of food from some of the photographer/stylists I follow on Instagram:

13974775761_ea587bf198_z Beth Kirby

EDOC4534 Aran Goyoaga

79ideas_kinfolk_stylish_dinner_beth_kirby_details  Gentl & Hyers

I love the deliberate mess stylists are calling “wabi sabi.” It’s one of my favorite things, and I have been a devotee since I bought this book ten years ago; the practice of “perfect imperfection.”

I talk a lot about these art direction techniques in my workshops. It’s all part of the big picture when shooting a photographic collection for cookbooks or magazines or ad campaigns.

I am always learning and am always embracing the “new” trends in food styling and photography. Instagram is a great way to see what’s going on in the styling and photography world instantly. If you’re an aspiring food/prop stylist or photographer, use Instagram as a tool; it’s fun and exciting.

spread My styling for Atlanta Magazine

If you’re interested in hearing more, come join us at one of our food/prop photography workshops; we’d love to see you. xx

Photograph by Gentl & Hyers, Beth Kirby, Aran Goyoaga Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn 


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last days of summer- Italy 2013

For my final post on Italy, I wanted to share some of my favorite instagram moments from the last three months. It was a fantastic summer filled with friends, family, travel adventures and mostly beauty. I hope you enjoyed reading about my summer at my Italian home on the Riviera (you can see some recent pictures on my friend Vicky’s blog). Next summer let’s do it again! In the meantime I hope you will pop in every week for exciting adventures + inspiration as I take my new cookbook on the road all over America… Oh and London too. Be sure to check out the events calendar for details and I look forward to meeting all of you. xx ciao ciao to Italia for now…

you can see all of my posts from Italy here. have a great weekend! – Annette

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