I originally wrote this post for Vancity Buzz. Since I wrote it, Instagram issued an update–a really good one. In the past, I’d often use a separate app for editing my photos before uploading them to Instagram. Now, with Instagram’s new editing tools, there’s so much more you can do to create the perfect photo right inside Instagram. Less apps = good.
Oh–and if you are on Instagram, find me @rebeccacoleman.
Your friends hate going out to eat with you. You orchestrate who is going to order what so that you can get photos of as much variety of the menu as possible. When the food arrives, you yell “Nobody touch their food until I take photos of it!!” Eye-rolling around the table ensues.
I get it. You’re a die-hard Food Instagrammer. You use the hashtags #instafood, #foodporn and #omnomnom more than any others. You do a happy dance every time one of your posts gets at least 11 likes.
If you want to increase your likes and get more Instagram love, here are some pro tips on how to be a better Instagrammer.
Don’t always shoot in Instagram
Often your best bet is to shoot using your regular smartphone camera. You can even use a popular camera app like Camera+. Be aware of the fact that an Instagram photo is square, whereas your camera phone image is likely not. This means, you need to shoot further away than you think, as when you import it into Instagram, it will crop your image. If you have an iPhone, you can slide your camera option over to “square.”
I’ll often shoot a bunch of photos, then go back and choose the one I like the best to import into Instagram. PS Express is another great app for fine-tuning your photos before you import them into Instagram.
Remember the rule of thirds
Use the grid tool in Instagram. This will allow you to fill 2/3 of the photo with your image, leaving 1/3 as “white space” (which may not be white!). The viewer’s eye will be drawn to the focus point in the image, whereas if there are a lot of different things in the photo, they may be confused as to where to look. Keep it simple.
Try to find new angles
When you’re shooting your food, can you find a different and interesting perspective? Mix it up. Sometimes shoot from straight above, sometimes from the side or straight on.
Don’t post five photos in a row of every course in your entire meal. Take a bunch of photos, stitch them together with an app, and post that to your feed.
One of the biggest problems with shooting food in dark restaurants is the lack of lighting. You never want to use your flash. It looks horrible. If you can, take your plate over to a light source, ideally one that’s natural daylight. You can also try pulling a candle in close and seeing if that works.
One trick I’ve used in the past is getting other friends at the table to light my subject with their phones. I love The Pocket Spotlight from PhotoJojo. It’s a little LED light that connects to my phone’s headphone jack. Sometimes it’s actually too bright, so I have a piece of white rice paper that I can use to diffuse the light with.
Use text overlays
If you want to include some information about your dinner, like what it is or where you ate it, or even some adjectives, you can do so with a text overlay app. Check out A Beautiful Mess, Over, Beautiful Cap, or Photo Wonder.
Follow these Foodies for Inspiration
What are your favourite tips for taking better Instagram food photos?