Remember when we lived in a world where we all just ate our food instead of photographing it first? Neither do we. Now that it’s commonplace (though in some cases, not courteous and/or banned altogether) to whip out your iPhone before you sit down for a meal, snack, or even a latte, it’s important to take a few things into consideration before you fire your shutter. The ultimate goal of food photography – besides making others drool – is to create photos that make the food look appetizing and beautiful. Follow these simple tips below to consistently churn out delicious-looking iPhone food photos.
SHOOT IN NATURAL LIGHT
Natural light is key in nearly all forms of photography, but especially when shooting food with an iPhone. iPhones have very limited controls, so you’ll need to control your light off-camera. Natural light produces the truest colors and is the easiest light in which to work. If you’re lucky to have a kitchen with beautiful natural light, use it! The light is generally nicest two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset, but your kitchen may have pretty light all day long. This all depends on which direction your windows face, of course. If the light seems rather hard and is casting heavy, dark shadows, simply hang a solid white sheet over the window(s) to diffuse it, or use a piece of white foam core or even poster board to soften it up. Avoid shooting in artificial light and with overhead lights at all costs. They’ll cause unappetizing color casts and shadows. Turn off your iPhone’s flash (forever).
USE NATURAL COLOR or BLACK & WHITE FILTERS
Make use of great photo editing apps like VSCO Cam, Afterlight, and Aviary, which allow you to adjust color, exposure, saturation, etc., as well as add and manipulate filters. Instagram has drastically improved its photo editing capabilities lately too, and added a few extra filters. Choose a filter that doesn’t have wacky turquoise tints or warm shadows, for example. You want your photos to look as real and natural as possible. If you want a uniform look to your Instagram feed, try to use the same filter but adjust things to make it yours. If you just can’t get the colors of your image looking good, apply a black and white filter. The simplicity of monochrome is very pleasing, especially with something as beautiful as latte art.
YOUR FOOD IS YOUR STAR
Simply put: let your food shine. It’s your subject so let it do its job. You don’t need fancy flowers or flatware to accentuate the food, and be mindful of your background. Try to avoid wild patterns or other surfaces that will distract from the food.
COMPOSITION IS KEY
You’ve heard all about the Rule of Thirds and it holds true for food photography as well. Applying this rule is easy. If you’re just starting out, turn on the grid option on your iPhone camera. This helps you see your image broken into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Place your subject’s points of interest along the lines or at their intersections, and you’ll be creating an image that’s more naturally balanced. That said, rules are made to be broken. Experiment with composition and determine what you like best and what keeps your food as the star. Don’t crowd the image. Keep things simple. Use creative cropping for visual interest.
FOLLOW AMAZING FOOD PHOTOGRAPHERS
Instagram has no shortage of stellar food photographers, and we recommend following some! Check out Ashley of @edibleash, Tara of @taraobrady, Adrianna of @acozykitchen, Joann of @sliceofpai, and Jenny and Teri of @spoonforkbacon. These ladies all post iPhone-only photos on their Instagrams, so taking a look at their photos is an easy way to see what your iPhone can do too. If nothing else, their gorgeous photos and carefully-crafted recipes will inspire you to make something delicious!
All photos ©Steph Parke.