How To Style Your Food And Instagram It Too

Ambica posted on 13 May

Let’s face it. There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who Instagram their food and those who don’t. And if you belong to the former group {I am guilty of ‘gramming’ my breakfast, lunch and dinner too}, you might as well do it in style. So if you are hooked onto Instagram and are looking for some insta-perfection on your food pictures, then here are some of my top tips on how to turn your feed into a delicious feed, one picture at a time.

Let Food Be The Hero

When your subject is food, make sure that your subject is the star! Focus on the food. The eyes must be drawn to the deliciousness of the food and not get distracted by the background or the patterns on the plate/bowl or any other element that may be in the frame. Keep the background subtle, zoom in if you want to, blur the background if you wish to.

Light But No Flash!

As far as possible try shooting in natural light. Because it keeps the colours and textures of the food real. But what if you are indoors and have absolutely no natural light around? Well, look for a decently well-lit space, and be vary of the overhead lights {they aren’t your best friends, although they sometimes make for an interesting picture, if clicked well}. Go for single light source, preferably from the side{s}. It brings out the textures well and adds drama. And most importantly – don’t use the on-camera flash! It will only make the food look flat, unappealing and unnaturally bright.

Frame It, Before You Click

Composition is everything. Aside of food in your frame, try and add some elements that support your food story. Rule of thirds {Google it!} is a good idea. Create or look for leading lines. Position the supporting elements randomly {be mindful of the distance between the elements}. Don’t crowd them. Don’t fill your frame. I personally love playing with supporting elements in the fringe of the frame while my Hero Food is in the centre, carefully positioned to shine. And hey, if you don’t have or wish to add any other element to your frame, let your food do the talking. A single cupcake, or a slice of pie, or a glass of milkshake – thoughtfully positioned in the frame – is just about enough to get your hunger pangs up!

Colours & Contrast

Be wise with colours. Pick or place complementing or contrasting colors within a frame or in your hero dish. Play around with contrasting hues by positioning different colours next to each other very strategically. Eg: Slice of a dark colour cake on a light contrasting plate, A leafy salad in a pale grey {or blue – yes!} bowl. When the hero dish is vibrant in itself, keep the supporting elements subtle.

Keep It Clean Or Make A Delicious Chaos

Food can be styled in a very clean, elegant, minimalistic way or you can go all out to create a beautiful mess. A minimalist approach is big on Instagram {food placed very artistically in the frame with a bare minimum support elements or none}. Flat lay is another very popular styling trend {very clean and symmetrically arranged elements that follow a theme, in the frame – bright light and shot top down}. Use Negative space {the space around and between the subject} to bring the focus on the food. If you do not fancy minimalism, try and create a beautiful clutter. Place the elements in a random way that looks spontaneous and not like you are trying too hard to compose a beautiful frame!

It’s All About The Angles – Play Around

Instagrammers love overhead food shots. But overhead shots aren’t the best for all foods. Foods that have height and distinct texture, shoot them at eye-level. Eg, a slice of cake standing tall must be shot at eye level, but if it is lying flat on a plate – go for an overhead shot. But play around with angles and while you are it, be mindful of the distance from the food.

Look For “Moments”

You either wait for the perfect moment or create one! They always make for great photos. Dripping, pouring, oozing, stretching, sprinkling, blending, swirling, tossing….You get the drift! Those moments are always appealing and ‘foodporn’.

Tell A Story Or Go Quirky & Fun!

When photographing food – look for a story you wish to convey. For eg:, with coffee during breakfast, add elements like a newspaper, click near a bright and sunny window etc. Or coffee at work. Add a sneak peak of your laptop, some work papers, phone and more. If visual storytelling is not your thing – then try going all quirky and fun. Think crazy. Think weird. Think fun!

Don’t ‘Overuse’ Filters

Just because Instagram has filters doesn’t mean you have to use them all. If you are using filters – don’t over-edit the images. You don’t want them to look like they have been worked on. Some pop filters that can be used are Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, Sierra, X-ProII, and Valencia. But word of advice – use some good photo editing softwares for your phones like Aviary, Snapseed, VSCO. Simplest things to do would be play with brightness, increase the contrast a little and tone down the warmth while keeping it all real.

Discover Your Style – Discover Your Crazy!

Find out what appeals to you. Your style. And keep at it as far as possible. Instagram loves consistency. That’s how you build your brand. But don’t shy away from giving into your crazy sometimes. Try something you haven’t tried before. Most importantly, have fun while doing it.