5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram #52 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business

Build a Badass Business Podcast #52: 5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram

5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram #52 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass BusinessTopics 

1. Garnish is important:

It’s what takes a photo from being “ok” to looking that much more exciting, or a bit more thoughtful.

2. Choose a plate or a vessel that isn’t too big:

Make sure that whatever you have is really full, because that’s what makes it look interesting and exciting.

3. Use natural light:

If you’re wondering how to get the absolute best photos of your food, do not shoot them in the dark.

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5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram #52 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business 5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram #52 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business 5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram #52 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business

Build a Badass Business: Episode #52: 5 Tips for Better Food Photos on Instagram 

Coming to you from the city by the bay, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome back to the show. What I want to talk about today are 5 tips for better food photos on Instagram, because I get this question a lot, or I get the comment a lot that people love my food photos, and they wonder if they’re from a “real camera” or a DSLR, or if they’re from my iPhone. And the truth is, most of them are from my iPhone.

The only pictures that you’ll see on my Instagram that are not my from my iPhone are more official photos. So photos that you might see on my blog for a recipe, for example, or a photo that might be from one of my books, it’s obviously not going to have been shot with an iPhone. So I’ve got 5 tips for you guys today for better food photos on Instagram, and they actually start way before the photo.

So the number one tip that I have, or the first thing you need to think about when you want your food photo to come out nice is to chop carefully. So if you’re chopping ingredients, you’re slicing things, you’re dicing things, you are getting your food ready to be cooked; obviously, if it’s going to be raw like a salad, this is also something to consider, but this is something we think about for food photography even outside of Instagram. So if you’re chopping and dicing things and the way that you cut things is messy and uneven, and doesn’t look good, the end result is not going to look any better.

So, if your dice is uneven, and you want that to look really pretty in the end, you have to really pay attention when you start cutting in the first place. So, that’s one of the first tips that I have; be neat about how you’re preparing the food, and that will come with time. That will definitely come with time and experience. If you need to go take a knife skills class to get better at it; obviously, not everybody is at this point, but this is the thing that I consider first and foremost.

People are like, how is your food so pretty? And I think sometimes it just comes down to, well I diced everything so squarely that then it just looks nicer. It’s just more pleasing to the eye. So that’s not something that everybody needs to do, that’s just something if you’re preparing a recipe to be careful of. Obviously, the rest of these are going to apply more for; like you could even use some of these other tips for pictures of foods that you didn’t prepare.

So that’s number one; chop carefully. But that encompasses all of the food prep, you know. Take care when you’re grilling a burger or a steak to let it sear and get those marks on it, and be patient, and all that good stuff. So, that’s number one.

The second tip; and this is one that might not seem that obvious to you, but it will become apparent the more you’re used to it. Choose a plate or a bowl that isn’t too big. You want to food to really fill the vessel that it’s in. Sometimes you actually even want it to sort of overfill that vessel. So if we go to plate food as a food stylist or photographer, we tend to use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Obvious, if you’re eating a huge meal and you have it filling up that dinner plate, cool. But most of the time we’ll choose a smaller vessel and let the food look more abundant. So choosing a smaller plate is always a good idea. It might also be a good idea to help with portion control, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. It’s going to make the food look more abundant and more appealing than if you have a flat few pieces of lettuce or a few pieces of spinach on the plate and it doesn’t look appetizing and appealing. That really is what makes the food look exciting and like you really want to get in there and eat the food.

So that’s number 2; choose a plate or a vessel that isn’t too big. Make sure that whatever you have is really full, because that’s what makes it look interesting and exciting.

Tip number 3 is garnish. This is especially true if you’ve got a lot of white food or brown food, or something that’s just one color; chopping up some cilantro, or parsley, or chives; any kind of herb, any kind of zest, anything that you can put on top to just sprinkle it, even a little bit of hot sauce. That little splash of red can be really helpful. Some kind of sauce; anything that you’re going to use to break up a single color and add a pop of color.

So this is where, for example in tacos, I like the crunch of fresh red cabbage; but even more than the crunch, I like the visual pop that it adds, not only for the photo but for myself before I eat it. So garnish is really important. It’s what takes a photo from being ok to looking like that much more exciting; or just a little bit more thoughtful.

Number 4; and this is one of the most, I mean, they’re all really important, but this is probably one of the most important, and the thing you can do, even if you’re not preparing the food itself, is to use natural light only and a lot of it. And I say that with the caveat of, “mostly” {laughs} natural light. There’s always an exception to every rule, but if you’re wondering how to get the absolute best photos of your food, do not shoot them in the dark, do not shoot them at dinner time when you have all the lights on in your kitchen. The overhead lights in your kitchen are not going to give you any kind of great looking light on your food; it’s also going to cast shadows everywhere. So your light is coming from overhead, and you’re generally going to be blocking some of that light from somewhere, so that is never going to be your absolute best light. You want to use natural light only.

And then I have the caveat sort of, “mostly.” So right now I have this light that I use a lot of times for videos that’s called a ring light. It’s a really bright light, and I’ve noticed that if I want to take a picture of food at night, it’s a very white, bright light, and I can shine it down on the food, and I don’t get any harsh shadows or anything like that. The color fill is really great, it’s just a bright even light, it’s not too yellow, and I can use that for a food photo. It’s not going to look as great as it would if it were natural light.

One of the things that happens with natural light is you get direction from the light, and that’s just a whole other topic for food photography. What happens with this artificial light is you kind of get a flatter photo. It’s less realistic, because it’s an artificial light, obviously, but it works. So if you have a really bright, some kind of light that you can shine on something, your phone is not going to do it. The flash is not really going to do it. The flash can be ok sometimes, but this is like a standing, independent separate kind of light that you can shine right on the food, and have it very, very bright. That’s the fourth tip; natural light only, mostly.

The fifth tip is get good at filtering. Get good at filtering. I filter almost every single photo. I don’t filter it to look unnatural. I don’t like for food to look colors that it isn’t or shouldn’t be. I like for food to look the best that it can look. Putting your foods best foot forward, basically. So I adjust things, like the brightness, and the saturation, and I adjust things like the color balance and how warm or cool the color of the photo is. A part of that is going to be for your own Instagram feed. If you always post photos that kind of have that faded look to them, then go for it. If you always post photos that have a blur, and you want to put the vignette on the corners and you want to do some kind of blur in the center, and the center is in focus and the edges are blurred, that’s up to you. But every single photo, I do something to adjust it so that it will look it’s absolute best, because most of the time to your eye it almost looks better than what the camera does to it. So you want to make sure you’re basically bringing out the best in your photo.

That’s it. Those are the 5 tips I have for you guys; chop carefully, choose a plate or vessel that isn’t too big; garnish, garnish, garnish; use natural light only, mostly; and filter the photo to make it look it’s absolute best. You’re going to have to play around with filtering, you’re going to have to adjust it. I tend to not use a preset filter; I tend to use the manual adjustments that Instagram offers, or any other app may offer. I don’t tend to use something like a preset filter, because most of those don’t make food look realistic. So I would shy away from those for the most part.

Hopefully you guys found that helpful. I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this; I can’t wait to see your photos looking better all over Instagram.

Hey guys, I’m so glad you’re loving the show. Let me ask you to do me a favor; come follow me on Periscope. You can find me; I believe you can search Diane Sanfilippo, or you can search @BalancedBites, which is my Twitter handle, which is the account name over on Periscope. I am going to start doing live sessions, really quick thoughts for the day. I’m not sure if it I will be every day, but it will be pretty often, and some Q&A on business topics and motivation, inspiration, etc. So make sure you’re following me over on Periscope. Download the app in the app store, and I will see you there.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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