These days it’s seemingly impossible to ignore the influence of social media in every aspect of life. One daily ritual that has been transformed by Instagram is the way we enjoy our meals. Even those who aren’t in the habit of taking pictures of their food and posting them online will have noticed that almost every sort of establishment – from the local coffee shop in Sterling Heights to a fine dining restaurant downtown – is investing thoughtful effort into the presentation of their food and drink, thereby enhancing the visual enjoyment. And if you’re fond of posting photos of your latest food adventure, these tips will help you elevate the whole experience even further.
Find purpose in photography
Food photography may have increased in recent years, but there are different motivations underlying every photo. Cynics often say that people post pictures to improve their status, while businesses use the medium for promotional purposes. Yet many individuals simply want to document a pleasant experience; taking photos – and inadvertently delaying consumption by adding a new step to the food ritual – may increase satisfaction. Whether you’re preserving great memories, starting a lifestyle blog, or seeking to reinforce healthy habits, make sure your photography is aligned with your motivations to create images with the desired purpose. Are you showcasing the food itself, or looking to tell a story? This will inform the decisions you make when capturing and editing images.
Use the right technique
Overhead shots of a plate of food are common and easy – but they shouldn’t be the only option you consider. Photographers from various genres will have tips for a shot that successfully achieves your intent. The deliberate use of composition, focus, and lighting will draw a viewer’s attention to areas which you have chosen. For a dish you’ve created, you’ll want every component to be in focus; at a restaurant or café, you may want to shift the attention to the mood by incorporating elements of décor such as tablecloth patterns, candles, or centerpiece flowers. Many photographers recommend moving around – not only to position yourself at unique angles but to explore the area and find a spot with excellent lighting or background views. Don’t be afraid to use negative space; just like a plate that’s filled to the edges with food, a photo in which the subject takes up all the space can appear overcrowded or unbalanced, failing to convey the desired impression.
Edit and curate
Any photographer will tell you that taking pictures is only part of the work they do. The rest of the creative process is dedicated to sorting through different shots, experimenting with filters and adjustments, and identifying and posting the best final image. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is – so go back to your motivations for photographing food and decide how much time and effort you’ll invest in this aspect. Casual photographers may choose to perform minimal adjustments or skip this entirely. Still, if you’re trying to build a following on social media, it pays to curate content for quality rather than quantity. Experiment with different photo editing apps and filters; over time, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes a photo successful, which feeds into capturing higher quality raw images.
With these tips, improving your food photography by finding purpose and polishing your skill can elevate even a simple interaction with your meals into a memorable experience.