A few months back I was invited by Stephanie Zubiri and Vicki Abary to be a part of their travel website’s launch. Their site’s name : www.thegypsetters.net is a compilation of many travel stories and experiences of different people from different parts of the world.
My “special participation” at the event was to give a small talk about about Food and Instagram. Being quite active on this social media channel but still very shy when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd, I gave it a go.
As we all know, Instagram is widely popular these days. As of today, there are 200 million active users with an average of 60 million photos shared on a daily basis. (Source) And as expected, a huge chunk of this number are food photos.
Instagram is a foodie’s paradise. We can find all kinds of food photos here posted by different people from all walks of life, from all over the world. Food is probably the most popular subject on Instagram because it is also the “easiest” to take a photo of and the most convenient to share.
So what are the easy and practical tips I follow when I instagram food?
Tip no. 1 : The most basic rule is : Your food photo should be clear and bright. Yes, as simple as that. And how do we do make that happen?
- Get as close to your food as possible… because food looks so much better when it’s right in front of you.
- Clean the lens of your camera! Since our phones have become our cameras as well, we have to treat the lens of our phone cameras like how we would treat our real cameras. We handle our phones pretty much the whole day — so you can just imagine the little particles of dirt, moisture and thumbprints that can be found on our phone’s lens. (Don’t believe me? Try taking a photo of your food without cleaning the lens and then take another photo after wiping your lens and see the big difference!)
- Focus on your food. Use the focus tool in your phone’s camera to focus on your main subject (which is the food) and to blur the other unnecessary objects in the background.
Tip no. 2 : Just like when you are serving food : in instagramming food, presentation is key. Be creative and don’t just take a photo for the sake of being able to instagram it. Take a photo and present it well. How do we do that?
- Tap into your artistic side, look for interesting details, put together something unusual and contrast different colors. Make a story out of your photo.
- Whether you are eating shawarma from a food truck or dining inside a Michelin-starred restaurant, how you present or compose your food really makes all the difference.
- Use different colors and textures (herbs, garnishes, leaves, wrappers etc) and props (plates, cutlery, napkins, ribbons etc) around your food to make it more visually appealing.
Tip no. 3 : Try different angles. Depending on the presentation, sometimes a dish looks better from a different angle — from the side, from the bottom or from the top. So take a few snaps to find the perfect angle for your food. Because sometimes the filling of your sandwich or what’s in your sushi is actually the best part of your dish!
- Keep in mind that your followers want to see what it is exactly you are eating or describing… so go ahead, slice a piece of your cake, show what’s inside your pie and get a spoonful out of your ice cream cup and shoot it together with the whole thing.
Tip no. 4 : A food shot with some action involved makes your photo more interesting.
- A flickering candle on a birthday cake, a runny egg yolk on your Eggs Benedict, oozing melted chocolate and a Japanese chef slicing through your sizzling Kobe beef… All these “action shots” make your food photos more appealing, making your readers “drool” in your comments!
Tip no. 5 : Don’t use flash with food — especially when glass is involved. Use natural daylight whenever you can and as much as possible.
- Flash washes out the natural color of your food. With flash, meat looks shiny and unappetizing, cheese looks like plastic and bread looks pasty. Flash they say is “food-porn murder”! So try to avoid using flash with food.
- Go for natural light whenever possible. Soft daylight is the best.
Tip no. 6 : Use filters and apps to enhance or accentuate the colors in your dish and not to distract your viewers from them.
- The most commonly used filters for food on the Instagram tool are XPRO, LO-FI and HEFE. Meanwhile, Snapseed and VSCO Cam are among the most popular downloadable apps for changing filters in a photo.
- But of course, if your photo turned out great even when raw or untouched (when #nofilter was used), then don’t feel compelled to use any filter for Instagram at all. Sometimes, no filter, no crazy effects are better — especially when you already have captured a great food shot.
(Disclaimer : I am not a professional or trained photographer. All photos above were taken using my iphone 4 and 5. These tips and tricks are all based from my Instagram experience alone.)
To end, here are 3 simple etiquettes to remember when using Instagram :
- Real photographers don’t instagram every photo they take so neither should we! (I am guilty of this, especially if I just enjoyed a 10-course meal!) Take as many photos as you want, then curate and choose the best one to upload. That way you don’t annoy your followers. 🙂
- Snap discreetly — especially in restaurants or other public places. Don’t create noise or attract too much attention just because you are trying to take a photo of your dish and you want to instagram it right away.
- Try not to use too many hashtags. It distracts your viewers from seeing the real subject : your photo.
Keep in mind that Instagram is just a social media tool that was created to help us “socialize”. Have fun with your photos but don’t forget to enjoy the moment and eat your freshly baked cookie too — yes, while it’s still warm!
So are you following me on Instagram yet? If not, click here now and let’s have fun together!