Achieving the perfect food shot is often easier said than done. With factors like dim restaurant lighting and crowded tables working against you, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and self-conscious of your food photography skills. In fact, according to a national survey of 18- to 34-year-olds commissioned by UberEATS, 50 percent of people frequently photograph their meals, but don't post them on social media because "they aren't visually appealing enough." That's why the meal delivery app recruited a professional food photographer and blogger, Bella Karragiannidis, to teach a workshop in NYC about iPhone food photography tips (aka upping your Insta game). I was lucky enough to attend.
Here are the eight tips I learned from Karragiannidis during the enlightening event at Root & Bone on the Lower East Side. My social media life will never be the same.
1. Clean Your Lens
This seems simple enough, but sometimes we get caught up in the moment and forget to give our phone camera lens a good wipe before snapping a photo. Use the end of your shirt or a microfiber cloth, and trust me — it makes a huge difference.
2. Repeat Patterns
Look at what's on your table. Do you have a round plate and a round cup? Try staging those next to each other. The same would be true for a rectangular plate and, say, a butter knife. Create angles and shapes with your spread to keep things interesting for followers.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Add A Hand To The Shot
It might look a little crazy outside the lens, but adding a hand into the photo gives it a more natural feel. The trick, Karragiannidis said, is using "soft hands." In other words, no matter how you choose to pose them (holding a drink, spooning some mac 'n cheese, etc.), aim to keep your hands as relaxed-looking as possible.
4. Embrace Shadows and Texture
While you might be afraid of looming darkness ruining your photo, Karragiannidis said those shadows will actually enhance it. "I'm all about embracing the shadows ... they add drama," she told the group. Shadows also add texture and make the little details on your plate pop.
5. Think About What You're Wearing
Speaking of shadows, if you don't want your shadow showing up in the photo, plan your outfit for the meal accordingly. Blacks, whites, and grays are not going to bounce back in the photo.
If something colorful nearby (like a vase of flowers) is creating a weird shadow in your shot, consider blocking it with one of the aforementioned colors. I actually watched Karragiannidis hold a black tote over a vase so that someone could take a shadow-free photo. It worked!
6. Add Lighting
While it's always best to shoot in soft, natural daylight, it's not always possible if you're seated inside a dark restaurant. For those tricky cases, have a friend turn on their phone's flashlight to add extra oomph. Or, if you're feeling extra, purchase an LED light like the FLII Selfie Ring Light ($8.95 on Amazon) so you're always prepared.
Also, pro tip: ask for a window seat to avoid lighting issues.
7. Learn To Love Negative Space
Naturally, we want to zoom in on all the delicious details in front of us. However, Karragiannidis recommended against it. She prefers photos that offer "room to breath" so the viewer can enjoy them more. With that in mind, incorporate a bit of the table or a chair so that your food is the focal point.
8. Play Around With Editing
Yes, it's okay to edit your photos. There's a time and a place for #nofilter, but part of great food photography is great editing. Karragiannidis used Snapseed during the workshop, but Adobe Lightroom is another option.
The goal is to experiment until you find a look that resonates. Karragiannidis described the process like this: "Editing allows you to curate the image the way you saw it. Like, 'This is how my mind sees it.' It gives you the chance to make it you."
In any case, there are three things to keep in mind as you elevate your skills. Repeat after me: "Learn, practice, and edit." Do those religiously (as in, anytime you're eating something for the 'gram), and you're guaranteed to see results.
Hello, new followers!