How-To food style for Instagram in 5 easy steps

I had the most amazing opportunity to spend the summer in New York City, interning for a food blogger and stylist. I spent my days attending industry events, writing articles for the food blog, curating images for social media, assisting with food styling on set, and taste-testing recipes. Working alongside a trained professional, I was able to learn about food styling from the very best! My internship taught me many things, one of which was the basics how to successfully carry out a food photoshoot.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 things I learned from my boss, Tara Teaspoon, that are most important to consider while shooting food to create the perfect ‘foodie’ Instagram post.

Italian Tomato Eggplant Skillet Pasta by Tara Teaspoon

 1. Composition

When preparing to snap a photo, it is important to consider the image’s compatibility with Instagram. While vertical and horizontal images are accepted, square photos are typically best on the platform. While setting up to take your shot, consider the angle you’re shooting from. Are you shooting your food straight on? Would a flat lay look best? Keep in mind the rule of thirds, and be sure you are holding your camera (or phone) level to get the best optics possible! What is in focus? How tight is the shot? What elements in frame is your eye most drawn to? This is referenced in the article on food styling by the New York Times.

2. Lighting

Be intentional with the lighting you use! Are you outdoors? Indoors? Do you have access to natural light? Would artificial light be best for the image you’re shooting? One of the biggest take-a-ways I gathered from my experiences on set at a photoshoot was that sometimes you need to get creative with lighting! White paper works great as a reflector to bounce your light back into frame. Flashlights on phones can be ideal for brightening up shadows in a restaurant with dim lighting. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you have to get your lighting just right! An article by Click It Up A Notch goes into even more detail on being resourceful with the lighting that is available to you.

Shooting Salmon Tacos
Shot by Anne Marie Miller, styled by Tara Teaspoon

3. Texture

One of the most exciting parts of shooting with food is planning the textures surrounding the food to really draw your attention in to the subject you’re shooting! It is important to consider the color and texture in the background of your photo. What will really make the food pop? Is the food taking center stage? Does the texture of the background add depth to the image? Are you drawn into the shot as a viewer? How does the background surface add value to the photo? An article by MyDomaine goes into even greater detail about shooting with texture.

4.  Styling the Food

Working alongside and interviewing Tara Teaspoon herself, I learned it is important to not be afraid to get hands on with the food you’re shooting! The following questions are taken from conversations I had with her about food styling. What can you do to make it look even more amazing? If you’re shooting food that you’ve made yourself, at what point in the preparation process is it most appealing to the eye? What can you do to make your photo stand out? Do you want to see ice cream dripping down the cone? Can you tell your chocolate lava cake is full of melty deliciousness? Would cutting into your soufflé give the viewer a unique perspective and showcase its complexity? How can you emphasize the unique beauty of the food you’re shooting as it appears naturally? Professional food stylists use kits and tools to style food into place, to make sure they get the perfect shot. As an aspiring Instagram food photographer, you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and really dive in!

Melon Balls With Coconut Drizzle by Tara Teaspoon

5. Editing

Editing can definitely make or break your shot! It’s important to consider coloring, temperature, exposure, contrast, etc. Filters can also be applied to get the look you want. Some of my favorite apps for quick editing on a phone include VSCO, the Tezza app, Lightroom mobile, and Picsart. The photos app on an iPhone or iPad has some great, user-friendly features for tweaking photos. Find what works for you and style it your way! Editing can also be very helpful if you want to curate a particular aesthetic or color scheme for branding your page. You do you!

I hope this article was helpful! Tag me on Instagram @annemarie304 so I can see your impressive food photography feats.

1 thought on “How-To food style for Instagram in 5 easy steps

  1. Thanks Anne Marie, this is so helpful! I’m excited to start taking prettier pictures of my food.
    Have a great day!!


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