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Once spread solely by word of mouth or reviews on Yelp, food culture is now built upon a foundation of hashtags and Instagram posts. Restaurant-goers discover new places through geotags on Instagram, making up their minds based on the way their friends post photos of their food. In the past, many paused before meals to be thankful for what is in front of them – today, we use that time to take pictures of these meals.
Food is perhaps one of the few things on earth that is universal. Since the beginning of time, the consumption of food has been social, and today’s trend of posting photos of our food on Instagram reflects this very human desire to share our meals with other people. To many, the practice may seem useless and silly: what’s the point of making a fool of yourself at a restaurant or taking any time at all to take a picture of food when you can just eat it?
Whether you partake in food photography or not, it’s important to recognize that this is an interest that has been integrated into our technologically-advanced and media-driven society. You may be someone with this hobby, you may be someone who despises it or you may fall in between as someone who does not participate but appreciates nice photos of delicious food (that’s me). Opinions aside, most of us would be compelled to double-tap an expertly crafted photo – food or otherwise – on the ‘gram.
Good lighting makes a photo. People who over-do their food snaps are the ones who apply various filters to the original photo in attempt to salvage a dull, lifeless shot that was captured under bad lighting. When done correctly, natural light is the only filter you need. And remember – no flash, ever.
Find the angle
You can add a lot of interest to your photo solely by the angle from which you take it. Certain dishes would look striking when photographed from a birds-eye view, while others (like a detailed, tiered cake) may look best as a close up. Don’t hesitate to take a couple shots from various angles to see what works best.
If nice, natural light is nowhere to be found, consider downloading editing softwares like VSCO cam and Afterlight. These apps allow you to mess with variables like exposure, saturation and enhancing or reducing shadows or highlights. Nobody wants to see a picture of your burger drenched in the Valencia filter on Instagram; customizing your photo with subtle edits will enhance it rather than make it tacky.
Play around with colours. The best food pictures are ones that feature an interesting contrast of different hues. Try pairing duller and brighter tones, or incorporate bright colours that pop out. Place orange wedges next to resplendent red pomegranate seeds. Throw some lime-green edamame beans over a bed of purple kale. It’s difficult to make a piece of brown, charcoaled steak look enticing.
If you’re taking a slice from a cake and a few crumbs fall onto the tabletop, don’t clean it up! Some disorder and mess adds charm and can make the photo more lively, just like the berries scattered across the table in this photo. Meticulously arranged photos can end up looking unsettling, lifeless and even sterile.
Eat your food
The most important tip, and one that people often forget, is to not wait too long before eating. It may be enticing to position and re-position your plate over and over again in order to get “the perfect shot.” However, no shot is worth it if the dish in front of you ends up melting or getting cold! While food photography can be an interesting hobby, food should ultimately be a feast for your tastebuds.
Photo Credit: Desserts for Breakfast