As you know, Instagram is the social media outlet that makes nature appear more beautiful, times seem more fun, and food look more delicious. But according to the WSJ, you guys suck at Instagramming your food. Is it because you suck at cooking or simply that you coasted to a B+ in your photography elective sophomore year? Well, Texas-based food photographer Jody Horton taught the WSJ and I read that article and now I’m just as qualified to impart my knowledge on you. Alas, as self-proclaimed food (photo) critic of PGP as of ten minutes ago, I am here to act as the middle-man in teaching you how to properly photograph and post your entrées to maximize both tasty appeal and likes.
First, quit over thinking it. You’re posting a picture of a Tuesday night supper, not painting the Mona Lisa. You want your meal to look natural and organic. Use fast-food commercials as inspiration. The burger they show on TV is always identical to the one they wrap up and hand you in the drive through window. Imagine what a letdown it would be if the real life taco was so much less appealing than the advertised taco? Here’s an example of great natural food photography:
Now that you’re in the right mindset, let’s look at an often neglected, yet key component, of the picture: the plate. Horton can’t believe some of you rookies on Instagram. Taking photos of a red apple on a red plate? Come on, man. You can do better. But since most of you aren’t hosting the Queen of England on a regular basis, a set of china is a foolish purchase on the postgrad budget. Fear not, a simple white plate can add the proper contrast allowing your food to “become the star.” Here’s a tip from the Nard Dawg: paper plates with fancy designs can fool your followers into believing you own real china. Look at the beauty of contrast:
Camera angle can’t be stressed enough. Imagine the embarrassment of taking a photo of your Lean Hot Pocket and in the background is an episode of Dance Moms from three years ago. Horton suggests it’s best to attack from the top, so put your protractors away. Coming from the top eliminates any distraction from the background of the dish. You don’t want to run the risk of getting photobombed by not using the overhead approach:
Horton’s final piece of advice deals with lighting. If you’ve just been using an overhead fluorescent light, you need to up your game. Try to get the light behind the food, whatever that means, and preferably candlelight. Since most restaurants have poor lighting, Horton recommends moving the table to get the desired effect. If the tables happen to be bolted down, or the restaurant for whatever reasons objects to you moving their tables around, pack a slice of white copy paper and have your dinner date hold it just out of the shot to aim more light on the meal. Here’s the appropriate amount of candle light for reference:
Now I have my own nugget of Insta-gold to share with you, because the Nard Dawg knows best. Make sure to link your food photo to Facebook and Twitter in order to piss off as many people as possible. Each pair of eyes that sees yet another dumb meal photo will be forever grateful for the annoyance you’ve blessed them with. Godspeed, young food lovers.