If you spend hours admiring beautiful food photography and want to learn how to make your food look good on Instagram then read on – we’ve gathered together some expert tips to help you get started.
Bo Porterfield of Bo’s Kitchen (@bos.kitchen on Insta) has put together this helpful Instagram food photography guide to show you how to take the perfect food photo for Instagram.
Bo has gained thousands of followers by posting pictures of food on Instagram and spends hours putting each picture together, but she says that there are lots of quick ways to improve your Instagram food photography when you’re starting out.
Learn Instagram food photography and take amazing food shots
Use natural light
Find the spot with the best natural light in your home to take your photography, as electric lights tend to give your photos a yellowy tinge. Bo says: “Be aware of the light throughout the day because it completely changes. I don’t have a south-facing window, so I often end up moving around the house.”
Create an inspiration board on Pinterest
If you’re just starting out, Bo recommends setting up a Pinterest board to collect food photos that you really like. “Don’t copy them, but base your style around that. Choose pictures that are dark and moody or light and airy, really minimal or fussy and start from there,” she says.
“Then try to find something that’s unique to you. When I started out, I just had an iPhone and a white table and that’s enough to start learning the basics of composition really.”
Find some props to dress up your Instagram food shots
“I have loads now,” says Bo. “But if you’re a beginner, just stick to using objects that are matte not shiny because they look better in photos.”
According to Bo, towels make good props to add more texture to your photos, but not ones bought from the shops as they tend to be too thick. Bo likes to use linen towels or cloth because “it folds more naturally and the crinkles look nicer”.
Keep your props basic to start with, as you don’t want to overshadow the food.
Find an interesting background
While some Instagram opt for vinyl backgrounds, Bo prefers to use large tiles for her food photography. “I just order a sample. If you go online you can find huge tiles for people who have massive houses and I’ll just order one. The delivery man thinks I’m crazy when he brings them round!
“For some photos, I’ll just paint onto a piece of wood and sponge it up with different coloured paints.”
How to compose your food photography
“Whatever you want to be the main focus of your photo has to be the hero of the shot,”says Bo. “You don’t want anything else to overpower that.
“Normally I tend to be quite minimal, I don’t like too much fuss. I put the food I’m photography right in the middle or a little off-centre and just put a few things around it that relate to it around the side. So if I’m making a pizza I’ll put a few tomatoes around the edges, but I like to keep the focus on the thing in hand really.
“I’ll often try to incorporate some different textures as well, maybe put a bit of towel in or a little prop, but not go too overboard. Often I’ll start pretty basic and gradually layer things up – and occasionally I’ll take some things away as well.”
Try vegan recipes from Bo’s Kitchen:
How to style your food
Bo’s food styling usually depends on the look that she’s trying to achieve. “I think about whether I want it to have defined lines or whether I want it to look more natural. That’s something I struggle with – I have to think about if there’s anything I can do to make it look more real – whether that’s putting a fork in it or taking a bite out of it, or adding a few crumbs.
“I want to make sure it doesn’t look too forced – I want it to look as though it’s a meal that I could be eating right now, so I have to mess it up a bit.”
Think about your colour palette
Colour is a big part of Bo’s work. “Before I start working on something, I always think about how it’s going to look at the end. I think about the props.
“I don’t tend to shoot savoury food on light backgrounds, I prefer to shoot them on a dark background. I’m always thinking about colour, because it will dictate everything else I put in the photo.”
Keep it simple
Sometimes the most effective photos are the most simple. Bo doesn’t like her snaps to be too fussy: “You don’t need to fill every last pixel on the screen – I like breathing space.”
Don’t over-edit your photos
Natural colours usually look better. “Don’t turn your colours up to the max,” says Bo.
Photography by Bo Porterfield.