For Teen Vogue, by Marissa Miller.
Are you ever hungry, but unsure for what exactly, and suddenly you scroll past your favorite Instagram food account and you’re like “BINGO. Mac ‘n’ cheese with sriracha”?
Welcome to the era where a perfectly placed and well-lit burger can rack up hundreds of thousands of likes. We see food all the time — several times a day, in fact — but styling it and putting it through a couple edits adds an extra layer of thrill (and followers, hopefully). Straight from the pros’ mouths, here’s how to shoot, place, and edit food photos that’ll leave your fans drooling on their screens.
Gill Brody and Ashley Mosseri, @TheNoshPit, co-founders of The Nosh Pit
“It’s annoying when food tastes good and it’s not photogenic,” Ashley says. But where there’s a will, there’s a way: Get a bird’s eye view of the whole table as opposed to the meal itself. Don’t be afraid to use flash in a dim restaurant. If that’s not an option, get a friend to flash their phone’s flashlight when you snap the photo. “No shame. That’s the key. Stand up. Get your angle. Use flash. You need. Get up on the chair. Life your life,” Gill says. Words to live by.
Mick Côté, @cotemick, deputy executive digital producer at the Montreal Gazette
Within Mick’s feed of Montreal architecture lies little culinary gems. Shot from a range of angles, his goal is to prove beautiful plates are accessible and easy to make.
Steal his trick of shooting de-compartmentalized ingredients on a cutting board. “People really seem to like knowing meals can be accomplished with ingredients everyone has seen or has access to,” says the editor with a degree in photojournalism.
Those who take their ‘gram game super seriously have an in-house Instagram studio; but instead, rely on natural light from sunshine. “It gives a crisp look to your ingredients. I have a small table and different fabrics, planks with different finishes to put under plates,” he says.
Have you ever seen a simple PB on toast look more appealing? Rachel’s goal is to make sure her clean-eating food photos “look delicious and not intimidating.” To do so, she uses minimal props and basic backgrounds like a white wall or marble countertop, and only natural light from a window. And take it from Rachel: There is an optimal time of day to shoot, and for her, that’s the morning. But that might be different for you depending on where you live.
What’s up with edible flowers these days? For Jessica, they’re her magic weapon to adding an extra layer of beauty to already-stunning meals. “They’re great for adding that extra little something to a dish,” she says. “While they may not really provide much nutrients, they look really pretty. And after all, we eat with our eyes first.”
You’ll notice light pink hues dominate her feed, which creates an element of fluidity. “I love strawberries and raspberries, so I’d always put them in my smoothies. People really seemed to dig it so I started incorporating the pink trend in other dishes using pink flowers, and ingredients like radishes, beets, and berries,” she says. Experiment with different hues and gauge how your audience responds to them.
She uses a Cannon T6s, which she highly recommends for those aspiring food photographers (or lets be honest, Insta-famous). Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t feeling your kitchen photo experiments right away: “[There’s] lots of trial and error. I’d say I have just as many photos that don’t make it onto Instagram as that do,” she says.
This ‘gram goddess might be the queen of all things green, but that’s because she isn’t afraid to experiment: “A picture of avocado toast wouldn’t be appealing if it was photographed as is. Adding pops of reds with chili flakes or yellow with a lemon wedge really helps highlight the beautiful green,” she says.
Filters aren’t out — yet. But there’s a caveat. “Food looks most natural and at its best without any filters. If you’re going to use them, consistency is key. Use that filter on all of your photos so your feed has a unique and uniform look,” she says.
When Mother Nature isn’t serving up solid sunshine, she adjusts the brightness and highlight tabs until her photos look “perfectly sun-kissed.” If your photos contain slight details like chia seeds and water droplets, don’t be afraid to play with sharpness, she suggests. “I love when food looks so juicy, you just want to grab it through the phone and eat it.”
Danielle likens her mouthwatering Instagram to a fashion blog, so post with intention. “It’s all about having a cohesive feed, having a point of point of view and purpose to what you’re doing.” How to stay consistent? A white background is not only easy to find at home and at most restaurants, but it’s easy on the eyes. Plus, it won’t steal supper’s spotlight.
More from Teen Vogue: