Words by Meg Van Eck
Ever wondered how to take Instagram-worthy food photos? Does it frustrate you to see all the magnificent food feeds that make your snapshots seem flat and amateurish in comparison? You’re not alone. With these expert tips from celebrity chef and food stylist, Zola Nene, you’ll be snapping like a pro in no time at all.
“Right now, there are 283-million #food posts on Instagram,” says Nene. “We’re all guilty of getting snap-happy at the dinner table after making/eating a ‘gourmet’ meal, or at a restaurant, so much so that I have a personal rule when out with my girlfriends – you have 30 seconds to take a pic before I stab my fork in it.”
It isn’t quite as easy as stylists and bloggers make it look, but with these tips from Nene, an eye for detail and some lighting, you might be on your way to taking the perfect Insta-worthy food shot.
She says you need to remember the three most important elements in getting your shot ready: styling and plating the food and how you take your picture.
Here are some of Zola Nene’s useful tips:
PREPARING THE FOOD
Plating your food:
Choose your plate or platter wisely. Whatever you choose to plate your dish on should be a backdrop for the food. It shouldn’t distract or compete with what’s on the plate. Personally, I like a flat colour with a bit of texture.
Styling is key to making your food look tasty. Back in the day stylists would use all manner of sometimes toxic things to make food glisten and shine. Keep it 100% natural with olive oil, a brush, and a water spray bottle. Brush any roasts and veggies with olive oil to bring out the shine and make the food look moreish. If your dish includes salad or herbs, a spritz of water will give them a look of freshness.
Use ingredients that are included in the recipe as a garnish for the dish; a sprinkle of salt or pepper or just a simple scattering of herbs. The most important thing to remember is never to garnish with something that is inedible.
This is key, don’t over-prop the shot. Remember, the star of the show is the food. Using too many props in the picture will make the shot too busy. A simple napkin or utensil is great to include if it adds to the overall look but don’t go overboard.
TAKING THE PICTURE
Find the light:
Just like when you’re taking a selfie, you always look for the best lighting, the same goes for taking the perfect food shot. Natural light is always best, so find the nearest window and use the light. I always recommend taking a food picture during the day.
Turn off the flash:
A flash is food’s worst enemy! If it’s too dark to take the picture without the flash, then it’s too dark to be taking the picture. Yes, you can use artificial lights and arrange candles and bouncing boards to create light, but unless you are a pro, rather keep it simple and wait for daylight.
The right angle:
Find an angle that makes your food look its best, this means you need to snap a few pictures from different angles to see which one works best. And when in doubt, frame from the top, a top shot is generally best for amateur food pics, using this method means you simply have the food on the plate on a table which becomes your backdrop.
A little editing is ok:
Every phone has a photo editing tool, use it…cautiously! Use a filter that enhances the food and makes it stand out more if needed. Crop the photo so any unnecessary objects are removed from the frame. But, be careful not to over edit, you don’t want tomatoes or herbs looking psychedelic because of the filter you’ve chosen. The golden rule is that you want food to look real and not artificial.
See Zola Nene’s tutorial here:
Feature Image: Eaters Collective for Unsplash