The photo world and foodie world have collided in recent years as the rise of photo-driven social media site, Instagram, has become increasingly popular. People love to share their meals — both professionally made and those they create at home — on social media for their friends and family to see. Cooking classes and workshops, too, provide the independent gourmet housewares industry a chance to make each attendee their own personal influencer as photos get shared and hashtags make their way around the Internet.
However, there is a science to these photos and not every shot can make the cut. Dillon Burke, co-founder of Front Of House Creative, which is a creative digital community management company for restaurants, bars and hospitality venues, spoke exclusively to ON THE TABLE™, supplement to GOURMET INSIDER™, and dished out his top tips for taking the best food photos #forthegram.
Inspiration: Spend a few minutes looking around the web for inspiration — pay attention to surfaces and textures. Make sure to pay attention to how certain ingredients pop on certain backgrounds. Save a few ideas or make some mental notes and then start building your board.
Lighting: The key to any good photo is lighting. This heavily dictates the camera’s ability to capture the focus of the image. When you’re not at home, or in a studio, pay attention to which light sources you can control. Maybe you can block out the hard overhead light with your body, or position your camera/point of view so as not to block out the light from a window, etc.
Styling: The beauty of food is its universality, but not everyone has a fridge full of 35 cheeses. Pay attention to the colors of your products and don’t be afraid if they overlap a little — or a lot. Mix it up and throw some other textures in there to add some visual interest. For example, he noted to add things like crackers, olives or fruit to a cheese board for some further playfulness, depth and dimension.
Composition: Set the scene. Grab a napkin or two, a kitchen tool with an interesting handle, an open jam container. Fill the framing of your image, but try not to distract from the main focus too much.
Options: The beauty of digital and mobile photography is that you can embrace an accuracy-by-volume approach. Shoot a bunch of images from different angles and then review. The plated food will hold up for a couple minutes while you adjust your framing/styling — but just don’t keep your guests waiting too long.
Critique: No one will ever be as critical of an image as the person who shot it. Don’t let your snaps distract you from the subject. Enjoy the process and enjoy the results.