Blurry brunches, dark dinners and an ice cream that doesn’t look appetising no matter how many walls you shoot it against – the struggle for the perfect Instagram food photo is real.
One woman who knows how to turn something as plain as a loaf of sourdough into Instagram gold is Šárka Babická, a food and travel photographer with 140k Instagram followers double-tapping every avocado toast that passes her lips.
At a Food Styling & Photography Workshop hosted at Ice Tank with Amy’s Kitchen, Šárka spilled her secrets for nailing the perfect foodie Instagram post, plus her top tips for faking a luxury kitchen (when all you have is a faux quartz countertop).
1. Get your lighting right
You’ve heard it before, but natural daylight really is the best lighting for any foodie photograph.
If you’re tucked away in the corner of a restaurant, don’t be afraid to move your plate closer to a window or door to get the best shot and make the most of your iPhone’s exposure settings – tap the darkest area of the image to bring light to the whole photo, then drag the exposure levels up.
2. Be prepared
Stock your cupboards with interesting-looking crockery, cutlery and napkins – remember, smaller looks better on screen. We’re not all blessed with marble worktops and rustic wooden dining tables, so set the scene with Captured By Lucy’s printed vinyl backgrounds and flowers instead.
3. Plan ahead
If you’re serious about nailing your #foodporn post, patience is key. Plan what you’re eating that day and which meals would work aesthetically for Instagram – think bright colours, interesting textures and fresh ingredients.
Have all your flowers and props ready in advance so your scene doesn’t wilt while you’re washing up.
4. Act fast
Food starts to look tired very quickly, so you’ll have to work fast to get the most appetising picture. Try laying out your props before cooking, then plating up only when everything’s completely ready.
If you’re worried about fresh herbs starting to flag, keep them on ice or in a cold place until you’re ready to snap.
5. Don’t be precious
Garnishing a meal with pumpkin seeds, fresh parsley and coconut shavings can really make your meal pop in a picture, but don’t be too cautious. Choose a garnish in a bright colour, then sprinkle a handful over your dish.
A slightly off-kilter sprig of rosemary makes the scene more realistic.
6. Don’t give it all away
Sometimes it’s what you don’t see in a picture that makes it feel alive, so don’t struggle to fit your entire summer barbecue spread into your iPhone screen. Let dishes, plates and chopping boards fall outside of your photo and viewers will automatically imagine the scene continuing.
7. Embrace odd
Food photography is all about the odds: odd numbers of dishes, glasses or foods look best, but don’t spend time counting out apples or other smaller foods.
When you’re ready to shoot, follow the rule of thirds: split your image into nine parts with horizontal and vertical gridlines, then your dish should sit on one of the four points where these gridlines intersect.