These days, anyone and everyone is a food photographer. Whether it’s for your personal Instagram account or your budding lifestyle blog, here are 10 tips for better iPhone food photography. All photos shot on an iPhone by moi.
1. First things first. Always. Use. Natural. Light.
This is probably a given for most of you already, but if it’s not, turn your flash off and never turn it back on again. Artificial lighting screws up the light and colors of would-be beautiful subjects. If your natural light source is too bright, diffuse the light using a white curtain, bed sheet, or even a piece of paper. Reflect the light with some white foam board set up directly across from the source of light-- this will reduce harsh shadows.
2. When in doubt, shoot from overhead.
Overhead, or birds-eye, shots are hard to mess up when it comes to food. If you’re shooting a dish that is aesthetically pleasing from overhead or if you want to feature a full spread/tabletop, then stick to overhead shots. Straight on shots are a good option for stacked or vertical dishes (pancakes, burgers, cakes, etc.).
3. Don’t zoom.
At all. Don’t do it. You’ll lose photo quality when you zoom, especially when on a phone camera.
4. Lock your focal point and set your exposure before snapping the photo.
Lock your focal point by tapping and holding whatever you want the camera to focus on. Then adjust your exposure by dragging the yellow sun symbol up or down. It’s better to underexpose the photo and then brighten it when editing than to overexpose and try to darken it in editing.
5. Pick a simple, neutral background.
As a rule of thumb, nearly all food looks good on white dishes or on a white backdrop. White/grey marble surfaces or wooden backgrounds look great with nearly any food as well. Parchment paper is a great DIY food backdrop surface if you want to get messy with your styling and don’t have the budget for a nicer backdrop.
6. Garnish your food with fresh herbs, flaked salt, seeds, etc.
Add more visual interest to a boring dish with toppings. Fresh green herbs are preferable if they make sense for the dish, since they add a nice pop of color.
7. Experiment with placement/styling/framing.
Take a bunch of photos, move things around a bit, add some props, take a bunch more photos, and repeat. You’ll be happy you have a selection to choose from in post processing-- you’ll probably determine subtle differences in styling and framing that make a big difference.
8. Get some hands in the frame.
It’s always more fun and tells a better story if you add a human element. Recruit some friends to be hand models and ask them to reach for food or pretend to be serving a dish. You can pose yourself too, if you have a tripod and a timer.
9. Edit to enhance colors, but don’t overdo it.
Use apps like Snapseed or VSCO to enhance the colors, exposure, and white balance in your photos. Don’t oversaturate the colors unless you want your food to look unnatural. Similarly, Don’t overexpose your photos unless you want your food to look strangely bright and white. All you need to do is enhance the natural colors, which should be intact once you get to post-processing if you used good natural light to shoot.
10. Shoot up close for drool-inducing detail.
For the simplest of food photography, all you need is your main star-- the one food item you’re featuring. Get up close and put all of the focus on that one thing. If the food is interesting enough, it’ll turn out great.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.