Tips for Instagram Food Photography

 In Food & Dining, How To

We are all guilty of it – you’re out to eat with your friends or family, the food arrives and what’s the first thing you do? Take a bite? Wrong! You snap a food photo for the ‘gram. Because if you didn’t post it, did you even eat it?

According to Food Network Magazine, “Nearly a quarter of Americans say that they have chosen restaurants based on how the places look on social media, and a whopping 70 percent of millennials say they take a photograph of their food before they eat it.”

And millennials are not the ONLY ones to blame. Instagram is full of people from all different age groups who carefully style their photos featuring some of the world’s most delicious dishes. Snapping a photo of your food before you even take a bite has almost become second nature to most of us. Whether it’s a delicious recipe we created at home, or a beautifully prepared dish we ordered at a restaurant, it’s fun to share our meals with our followers.

Improve your instagram food photography skills with these 5 simple tips:

Sometimes the struggle for taking the perfect food photo is real. There is a lot that goes into creating those beautiful photos of food that flood your feed. Have no fear! The Outer Banks Restaurant Guide is here to give you their take on some tips on how to craft the perfect food photo.

Natural Lighting on food

While you’re inside at a restaurant and want to snap a shot of your meal, find a comfortable spot near a window. Be mindful not to cast a shadow on the food. Try to avoid overhead lights that tend to have a yellowish tint to them. If you’re shooting at night use a lamp and position it at an angle so the light hits the food just right. You could also use your phone and bring up a white screen near the dish to brighten it up for the shot.

food for instagram

Turn off those harsh, overhead, indoor lights. This prevents images from looking flat which then tends to alter the true color of what the food looks like. Always at least try to find the best source of natural light. You want the light to be in the shot but not so bright that it gets blown out. Pick a place where you can balance the brightness. For example, in a kitchen where there are windows and curtains that you can use to help adjust.



When in doubt, shoot from above. Almost every food looks great from this angle. When shooting from above try to hold your phone as level as possible. You could even use a small tripod because it keeps the shot steady. Yes, they make mini tripods to fit your phone!

food photography instagram

Say you are shooting something flat like a pizza, overhead especially works best because it will fill the entire frame. This will also give your photo clear details of the top of the pizza. Refer to this article on Outer Banks pizza if you like instagramming food photography.

instagram food photography

If it is a sandwich, a straight on shot will work best to show off all the ingredients inside the sandwich. Overhead would not work in this situation because all you would see in the frame would be the bread from the top of the sandwich.



food photography social media

You want the food to stand out! If the dish has a lot of color and texture then you will want to crop the photo in to give it more of a dramatic feel. Avoid having a lot of dead space around the food. Get in there and get straight to the point. You don’t always have to fit the entire spread of food into the frame. Plates and cutting boards can fall outside of the photo. This will leave the viewer imagining the scene continuing.



Take the time to set up your food photography. Props, linens, decorative plates and silverware can help tell a story. Take time to compose each shot instead of just snapping your meal in that moment. Have all of your props ready in advance. You want to act fast so the food doesn’t look bad in the photo.

If you’re already at a restaurant, then that’s the ultimate staging for a dish. Remember lighting is key! Try to get a table by a window or outside if that’s available. Get rid of unwanted clutter in the background of the photo. Clear used plates and napkins from the table or at least out of the way for the shot. Clean space is good space. Less distractions so the attention will be only focused on the food.

digital food photography

Use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a guideline for photographers to help create a well balanced shot. Being mindful of the rule of thirds will keep your Instagram food photography composition interesting. Composition is how everything is arranged to fit in the frame together.



instagram food photography

First things first – straighten the photo. Make sure to “adjust” your photo accordingly. The quality of the photo is always worth it! After the photo shoot is over and you’re about to post to Instagram, make sure the photo is not crooked. This makes a huge difference.

Referring back to Tip #1 again – if the lighting from when you took the photo wasn’t very good, you can increase the “brightness” level. To mimic natural lighting you can reduce the contrast, which will then brighten up shadows and soften the image.

Always “sharpen” a photo because this will help enhance the quality especially if it was taken on your phone. Be sure not to overdo it! If you over sharpen, it will then make the image appear unrealistic or cartoonish.

food photos

The “tilt-shift” effect is another fun tool to use while editing photos. Tilt-shift adjusts an area of the photo by blurring out the background of the photo, but leaves a certain part clear. This highlights parts of your photo to focus more attention to whatever it is you’re photographing.

Reduce the “warmth” of the photo because this will help balance the different tones and bring out the vibrancy in the colors. You don’t want your photo to have either a blueish or yellowish tint to it.

All of these editing tools are located right in the Instagram app itself. There you will also find many filters that can be used but most of them overpower or fade the photo. Photoshop and Lightroom are both ideal when it comes to image-editing software. Yet apps like VSCO, Afterlight, and Afterlight 2 work great for quick and easy photo editing. In most cases, all you need is a little photo editing to enhance Instagram food photography.

Follow these 5 simple tips and you’ll be on your way to having photos that are insta-worthy enough. Don’t be afraid to be authentic. Trends on Instagram are always changing. Be as original as you can and you will get plenty of “likes”. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @obxrestaurantguide to find restaurants on the Outer Banks to satisfy your cravings. Happy Posting!

Recent Posts
  • Hasibur Joy

    Great Blog! I will give you 1 tip about food photography. Use natural light whenever possible! Light bulbs cause terrible shadows and color casts. As human beings, we are very capable of interpreting the yellow color cast of incandescent bulbs or the dull green of fluorescent lights as white light, but the camera has no brain to understand colors as we can. Thank you for sharing this kind of blog with us.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
obx restaurant desserts