First and foremost, the food has to be pleasing to look at. Let’s face it, while a home cooked plate of meatloaf may taste incredible and really hit the spot, it just doesn’t belong on Instagram.
Restaurants are dark. Especially after they dim their lights for the dinner rush. But lighting is so important for getting a great picture, and when it comes to food, flash is not your friend. It creates weird glare and shadows. Although it may be a little embarrassing to whip out, LED lights are the key to perfect lighting.
You have to make sure you get the proper angle when taking a picture, too. To fully capture the essence of the food, you need to adjust the angle depending on the shadows and available lighting. I always prefer to take a bird’s-eye view picture, so don’t be afraid to stand up if necessary.
The backdrop is crucial. It is imperative to make sure that nothing is in the background of your shot, unless it’s purposefully there. This means you should move any napkins, utensils, cups or people if necessary.
You should make sure to organize the food on the plate to ensure it is aesthetically pleasing. No one wants to see a messy plate. If there is splattered sauce, wipe it up, or if the food is out of place or not overlapping to your liking, move it.
The most important part comes down to the editing. I use the picture editing app VSCO. To make your picture stand out, vibrant colors are key. You can pick any filter you like as long as it enhances the pigment and tones. I like to decrease the background shadows to make the picture lighter too. While natural exposure is great, adding it in when editing often makes the picture too washed out, so I would avoid this step. Cropping your photo is important because you want to make sure the focal point is the food.
To give you an idea of what following these steps achieves, here are some of my own before and after Instagram food pictures.