How to take Instagram food pics

Want those banging Instagram/blog pics like the pros? Well- here are 7 steps that will get you there.

1.Get A Good Camera

Get yourself a DSLR camera.  There are different kinds so do your research.  Try going to electronic stores and testing out cameras.  Cameras vary by weight and style.  I use a Sony a6000, mirror less camera.  It’s a light weight DSLR, no bigger than my palm.  It’s easy to carry, pack and takes great photos. If you have a camera, great! Know your settings.  I like to use landscape mode when I want to encapsulate a large table.  Or I would use aperture priority for close range shots.  Take advantage of YouTube tutorials in how to use your camera to optimal use.

Note:if you don’t have a digital camera, it’s fine.  You can use your camera phone but you will need to take advantage of the editing listed in step six.

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens (Black)

Sony a6000

2. Use Natural Lighting

Lighting is very important to taking good images. My best images are taken during the day time.  I take my food photos in the kitchen, close to the window.  My shades are open wide to allow natural light to enter.  See some of my best images below with natural light.

Be careful as you want light and not sunshine.  Sunshine can make your pictures appear too bright and blurry.

Image w/natural light                              Image with Sunlight 

Lighting can be problematic.  My worse images are taken in the shadows or at night. (see the pizza below).  Night images need artificial light which adds too much unnecessary light to parts of an image and darkness to the other (see image below).  Editing the light from the image can take away color, fade image in spots, and it’s time consuming.  


Night Image – too much light

3. Get Some New Plates

Don’t use the same bowl that you eat Saturday morning cereal in. It’s important to use plates that will put your food in the forefront.  Use plain white plates or neutral colors.


White plate and white mug

Cast irons are in style, if you bake or cook using them, take the pic with the cast iron as well.  They are usually black and you’ll need a background that contrasts (more on that below in decor).   I like using red, but only if you have good lighting. Avoid using bright colors if you plan on editing the light in your images because it will look brighter after editing.  When using design plates, use colors that will contrast with the food.  


Image with cast iron

Note: If you’re not at home, most restaurants use white plates.4. Use Decor or Accessories

Decor adds to the images.  Think about themes when adding decor.  If I’m eating oatmeal, I put the same toppings around the plate. If it’s a Middle Eastern theme, I use props from that region.  The picture below has a middle eastern theme because the food is from that region. Therefore I have a red scarf as the tablecloth, a red basket for the bread, and a antique headband.  For sanitation, neither the headband or the scarf has been used for anything else other than food pics.


The picture above uses white plates and a red background.  However below has a white background and a red accent. Either way it provides contrast and allows for the food to be on the center of attention. (Click here to see more pics on Karak tea pics like below)


Also, I use place mates that contrast with the plate/food but yet isn’t off-putting (see pic below as an example).  Think of the plating and decor as clothes.  Your putting all the pieces together to match: shirt, pants, belt, shoes.  Decor to plating is the same.  Using neutral colors is the easiest.  I use whites, browns, and blues. Sometime I use red plates with place mates that have red in them.  If the food has red in it, I’d use a red towel around the plate to contrast the plate but blend with food.  Don’t buy anything fancy, yet. You can get supplies from discount or target.  I prefer to buy cheap so I can switch up plates as needed.  


Red, White, and Blue.  Food, plates and decor match.

Note: If you’re not at home, use whatever you can find around you like pots, menus, sunglasses, or the architecture of the building like below.  (Taken on my trip to Dubai, click here for more.)


5.Angle Your Pics

I use three different angles when shooting.  Directly on top of the plate (parallel -horizontal), at a 45 degree angle, or parallel-vertical to the food.  See the images below for visual.

A. Above- parallel – horizontal.  The camera is directly above the table/plates and centered in the middle.  The image below incorporates the previous steps. There are white plates for a natural feel, some middle eastern accents/decor such as a large serving tray, bread basket, and the oriental style carpet. (Check out more pics like below by clicking here.)


B. 45 Degree angle – Remember taking geometry in high school?  I don’t but what I do remember is 90 degree angle is double a 45 degree angle lol.  That helps me when I take pics.  Basically the 45 degree angle is shifted diagonally. The image below is not taken directly above the plate, nor vertical to the plate, its slanted at a diagonal.


Image with cast iron


Another 45 degree angle zoomed in

C. parallel-vertical – This is when the camera is parallel to the food on a vertical axis. See if the pic below to get the visual. I take a lot of these pics with sandwiches pancakes, brownies, cookies.  Just about anything that is stack-able.


Pic below using both the vertical and 45 degree angle. (Check out more baklava pics by clicking here. )


6. Use Editing Tools

Some editing is needed! It gives you the extra edge to allow you to compete with popular Instagram accounts. There are a bunch of tools out there but I use only two.

Tools I use to edit: Camera360 app on iPhone and Adobe Lightroom on PC. 

A. Camera360 – Upload your photRelated imageos to Dropbox and then you can download them to your phone.  The Camera360 app or Snapseed app has a bunch of filters, some specifically for food.  I prefer to use the HD (high definition) filter and the smoothing image. One adds more color and grit to the image while the other smooths

out the imperfections.  It has a bunch of other filters like Instagram, plus others.  Best thing is that it’s free.  

B. Lightroom – Lightroom costs 9.95 a month, I suggest using the free trial before purchasing.  Lightroom will give you professioImage result for adobe lightroomnal results! This is more difficult to learn and unless your tech savvy, it’ll take a while to learn. Use YouTube video tutorials to help out.  


7. Post on IG

now go on IG and if needed touch up whatever is missing and post.  Most of the time I’m good but then sometimes on IG I realize my pic is too bright and instead of starting all over, I can edit it on IG and post.  


My photo of a mango smoothie using the 7 steps

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