Social Media Food Photography Tips for Beginners
Many of us enjoy those mouthwatering Instagram posts, with bright vivid colours, stark backgrounds, and perfect lighting, these elements all play a role in making the food so alluring as they appear in your social media feeds.
With so many people using social media to share, discover and doing research on these platforms if you are in the food and beverage game then knowing how to capture some eye-catching photos is a must.
In the past this would include a lot of prep work, expensive equipment, and software or even hiring a professional photographer, with the advent of the smartphone and Social Media platforms like Instagram including filters and tools to edit and showcase your images, things have changed, no longer do you need to spend hours setting up for a photoshoot and then waiting for someone to edit all your images before uploading them, in less than 30 minutes you can have your photos up on social media looking just as stunning as the images you see in magazines, all with the simple use of a few apps (some of which may already be preinstalled on your phone) and a little DIY.
What you will need:
You can use almost any smartphone or tablet you want, be it an Android or an Apple product, what is vital is that your phone or tablet has a Camera.
The better the camera the better your results, you don't need to have the latest and the greatest camera smartphone to take amazing images, but as a general rule the higher the megapixels the sharper and better your colours will turn out, we recommend having a camera with at least 5MP or 8MP, if you own any of the flagship Samsung, Sony, LG, Huawei, and Apple smartphones you will have plenty of megapixels to play with and Depth of field (We will cover this next).
An Editing App:
So, you have the right phone with a camera, you're almost ready to start snapping pics, but before we can do that, we will need some apps first to do a little editing to really make your images POP! A quick search on the net will produce quite a few results. If you would like to see some of your options this little article is a good place to start.
10 Best Smartphone Photo Editing Apps
A personal favorite is Snapseed, available on both Android and Apple, this little tool can help bridge the gap between the capabilities of the camera on your phone and that of professional DSLR.
Snap Seed Layout Source
This little photo editor app is completely free and offers you the usual cropping and rotation tools, but where it shines is its ability to modify the depth of field, perspective, curves, and brightness on any photo on your phone.
Your Camera App
A good camera phone and an editing app is really all you need to make your images pop, but I am including the most overlooked aspect when it comes to mobile photography and that is the camera app itself, by default most new smartphones come with a pre-installed camera app, while they all seem to be the same at first glance it's worth having a look at some of the features that come with the this app.
Most smartphones from Samsung, Sony, LG, Huawei, and Apple have a plethora of modes and filters, have a look at what your phones camera app has, often there is a food filter pre-installed.
A little Planning and DIY:
So here comes the fun part, but also the most challenging, in today's world with instant sharing and posting from almost anywhere in the world, chances are you won't be taking photos in a studio, with professional lighting, and you won't always have the luxury to carry lighting equipment with you.
You will often be at the mercy of the lighting conditions in your kitchen, or the restaurants' dining area, in a well light area this is not a problem at all, but poor lighting is where you will often struggle, if you have ever tried taking photos at night you will see exactly what you are up against.
these are the 3 things you will need to try correct:
With low light comes plenty of noise:
Most cameras do perfectly well when taking photos during a well light day or in a brightly lit house but as soon as your light source goes away that little smartphone's camera starts to struggle, you will see that without light your images are darker and if you try to brighten then in your photo editor you start to see noise (it looks all pixelated and unclear).
Poor lighting makes it difficult to focus:
Most of your smartphone cameras don't really allow for manual focus like you can on a professional DSLR or Mirrorless camera, you will more than likely need to make use of your phones autofocus, unfortunately as lighting conditions drop so does your cameras' ability to focus.
Poor lighting affects your steadiness:
Smartphone camera sensors have come along way the past few years and although these sensors can reach some impressive ISO levels this does introduce a fair bit of noise, a high ISO is not the only way to bring in more light, your smartphone can also control light with its f-stop unfortunately as your lens is fixed ( you can't swap out your camera lens on the fly) you are stuck with the default lens installed by the manufacturer, the good news here is a lot of these camera smartphones have an f-stop range between 1.7 and 2.8 and some sit at 3.5, meaning your lens will be able to let in a fair amount of light.
Beyond ISO levels and f-stop, the only other way to control how much light your sensor can take in is with your shutter speed, the longer it takes for the shutter on your camera to open and close the more light is allowed to reach the sensor, on most smartphone cameras this is all done automatically to compensate for poor lighting, unfortunately, if your shutter needs to be open for longer to let in more light any small movement made by the camera is amplified and leads to blurry images.
A better solution is to choose a spot with an open window, or just go outside and use the full brightness of the sun this way your camera naturally allows in more light, which leads to more details and less noise.
It is important to note that because these images will be on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook a little noise in an image is okay and often not noticeable, just remember more light means your image sensor won't be working as hard on your phone and makes it easier to detect your subject matter.
Get a tripod or you can make one, as mentioned earlier, when taking photos in dimly light areas this can introduce some unwanted shakiness in your images while the image processor tries to adjust settings to allow in more light, this can be better controlled by using a tripod to steady your phone.
If you don't have a tripod on hand don't worry, all you need is something solid and straight to rest your phone on, it can be a book or a coffee mug, even staking coke cans will help steady and elevate your phone to better frame your shot.
Your first instinct would be to use that handy little flash that's built into your smartphone, in some rare occasions this is a good idea, the problem with that built-in flash is that there is very little control over the direction of the light, it will come from the same direction as the lens and can cause, shadows, unwanted color washout or an overexposed images.