Food is one of the most common photo subjects on social media, but not many can actually pull off great shots without making what’s on their plate look like yesterday’s unfinished lunch. The truth is, mobile food phoneography is a bit more complicated than just snapping and uploading stuff on Instagram. It takes a good eye as well as a bit of photography knowledge to get shots that can make a viewer’s mouth water.
In the recently concluded Play on Plate event hosted by the San Miguel Purefoods Culinary Center, blogger and Manila Eat Up founder Sheryll Anne “B’ley” Villones gave a few pointers on how to make your food photos look delectable. Add a bit of patience to the mix (you’ll have to chase daylight, after all), and you’re on your way to having a well-curated Instagram food feed.
1. Know your device.
Whatever your weapon of choice is, it’s important to know it inside and out. Each device has its strengths and weaknesses: one can be great in daylight while another may work better in night mode. Knowing what your device can offer can immensely improve the quality of your shots. If you are an iPhone user, we've got several photo-taking hacks to get you started.
2. Take advantage of natural light.
Natural light helps enhance the color of food in a way that white flash or iridescent light can’t. Where harsh brilliance gives your subject a washed-out look, natural light gives it depth and a finished feel.
The best times to take photos are from nine to eleven o'clock in the morning for a cool, bluish-gold glow, from two to four o'clock in the afternoon for warm lighting, and from four to six in the evening for a chance to chase shadows.
If you choose to take photos once the sun has set, you can use a flashlight and diffuse the bulb by covering it with tissue or a piece of white cloth. Clever, right?
3. Involve other elements in your photos.
Don’t be afraid to add color to your composition. If you’re working with a monochromatic palette, using warm colors such as red and orange can give cohesion to a shot. Experimenting with textures and backgrounds can also give your photo a dynamic feel.
4. Find the right angle.
You’ve probably heard about flat lay the most, but there are other angles which you can use depending on what you want your photo to convey.
Flat lay, also known as top or overhead shot, is mostly used to showcase different shades and shapes. It’s great for food spreads and for dishes that don’t have much texture.
The 45-degree angle is usually used to execute an interesting depth of field or to show a background. It can also be for food with little texture such as soups.
Head-on or the eye-level angle is for compositions that are in-your-face, and are often used for cross-sections of delectable and decadent dishes to make them more enticing.
5. Utilize negative space.
There are many people who are afraid of having blank spaces in a shot, but these actually give the viewer’s eyes a place to rest while putting all focus on the subject.
6. Use the right kind of apps.
Instagram isn’t the only app that can edit photos. There are many to choose from, such as Photoshop Express, VSCO, and Pixlr. Pick a few that suit your style and if you’re really serious about taking better food photos, invest in them. Having a gallery of effects and filters can help you give your Instagram feed a unique and unified look.
PHOTOS: Pixabay, San Miguel Purefoods Culinary Center