Do-it-yourself craft and cooking star Martha Stewart has quite a few cookbooks to her name, but that didn’t save her from stumbling into the trap of taking bad food photos.
Back in 2013, she posted a series of photos to Twitter and came under scrutiny for just how unappetizing the food looked. The dishes were probably delicious, but they didn’t translate into delectable images. Stewart has since stepped up her food-photo game and you can, too, with these tips:
1. Forgo the flash
It may be tempting to use your phone’s flash feature, especially when you’re in a dimly lit restaurant or if your kitchen lighting isn’t the best in the evenings, but flash is rarely flattering to your food. If you have the luxury, opt to film your dishes in good natural light, whether it’s outside on a patio on a nice day or with sunlight coming gently in from a window in a cafe.
The biggest problem with flash is how harsh the light is. It can make what should be a colorful salad or a perfectly cooked steak look flat and washed out. If you don’t have access to some decent light, then you can try adjusting a photo’s brightness, contrast, or saturation after the fact. In Instagram, for example, you will find these settings included with the edit options. Remember, you can always just opt not to post the picture if it looks truly unappetizing.
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2. Frame your food
The shoot-from-above food photo is a classic for good reason. It gives a strong view of everything on a dish or in food arrangement. It gives you a chance to artfully arrange the items and it offers a clean perspective, uncluttered by your surroundings. But not every snapshot needs to be a bird's eye view. Experiment with different angles and try cozying up for close-ups. It’s OK to get a bit artsy and zoom in on the syrup filling the pockets on a Belgian waffle or stare deep into the swirling patterns of a Dragon Roll at your favorite sushi place.
3. Enhance the background
A plate sitting on a Formica table isn’t the most exciting visual image. You can have fun arranging the backgrounds for your food photos. This is easy to do at home where you have a kitchen full of potential props available to you. Get creative. You might consider placing small bowls filled with colorful spices around that plate of perfect curry you just made, or fold a bright napkin next a dish filled with your lovingly prepared dinner.
Think about color and contrasts. A white plate with a white background could look perfectly pleasant if you have a flashy dish sitting on top, but a pop of color might be just the ticket for adding some excitement. Even if you’re in a cafe and can’t artfully scatter whole coffee beans around that perfect latte, you might still arrange the background to include a spoon and a pastry, which would help give a sense of scale and add some visual interest to the composition.
Bonus: Use a photo-editing app
Those gorgeous food photos you’re drooling over online are rarely just uploaded without any tweaking at all. Instagram is a popular photo-sharing app, but don’t get lost in the filters. The warm retro hues of the 1977 filter or the reddish cast of the Kelvin filter aren’t likely to do your food photos any favors. You might have better luck experimenting with the editing options or combining a few editing changes with a not-too-drastic filter.
If the built-in Instagram features aren’t doing it for you, then consider using a separate photo editing app to make changes before reloading the finished image into Instagram for sharing. One option is the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom mobile app for both iOS and Android. It gives you more control over tweaking your photos to get the best look possible.
Mobile food photography is so popular there are dedicated apps designed just for snapping your cuisine. Check out the Foodie app (Apple, free/Android, free), for instance. It works a lot like Instagram, but the filters are all designed to specifically enhance food photography. It might not replace the convenience of Instagram, but it’s fun to try out some different kinds of filters.
As you follow the path toward better food photography with your smartphone, just don’t forget to stop and enjoy the tastes along the way. And don't forget, you can save tons of money on printouts of your photos with Epson's EcoTank printer! Click here to get your EcoTank printer and start saving on ink today!