Very few people can find themselves at Instagrammable restaurants and refuse the urge to take aesthetically pleasing pictures. Perhaps it’s because beautiful photography has many purposes, like memories, bragging rights and, of course, content. Taking great pictures is a great service to the world, and an even greater service is taking great food pictures.
The thousands of likes and comments are nothing compared to the personal satisfaction of knowing you’ve immortalised a moment like that. So, when you think about it, food porn is a treasure on both personal and general levels. Should you find yourself somewhere like one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world, you want your food pictures to shine as the gems they are; here are 5 tips to make that happen:
1. Make sure the food is arranged well
Plating is the term used by chefs to describe this process of arranging food to match a certain aesthetic. If the food isn't well plated, (which is unlikely at a public place like a restaurant/cafe), you’ll have to do the organising yourself. More natural-looking food like veggies and salads are allowed to look a bit messier in pictures than more processed foods like pizza or even sandwiches. This means you can take pictures of your food even after you’ve taken a few bites. Processed foods, on the other hand, require that you pay extra attention to how the whole platter looks. Everything, including cutlery and glasses, should be in proper positions. Because of these requirements, it’s best to take the pictures before you dig in.
2. Use the setting
Food is — ideally — part of the aesthetic of that waterfront restaurant or urban jungle style cafe. As a result, the food and scenery (should) complement each other beautifully. Remembering to use the background (tablecloth, wallpaper/art, etc) can give your pictures a kind of beauty you only find in context. In fact, it might be hard for the camera to focus when you're too zoomed in. Let the platter, table or even the person in the chair in front of you be a part of the picture.
3. Try different positions
Your place at the dining table might not be the right spot for pictures that’ll come out well, so switch seats — or better yet, move from the dining area altogether (if you're at home). The light from your kitchen or that lamp next to the couch could be just what your camera needs for a great capture. In a public place, however, you're more constrained. You can't just go from table to table or ask the waiters for directions to the kitchen. But what you can do is move around your table in search of the most suitable angle. In addition, it's best to actually take the pictures from different angles rather than just looking at your screen as you move around. You can always delete what looks bad after.
4. Adjust to the lighting
As mentioned in the tip above, there are restrictions to finding the perfect spot for your pictures in public places, but you can move around your table. You won’t always have your own trusty light source (like a ring light etc) at every fancy restaurant, and you can't always trust the flash to give you a great picture as it sometimes causes photos to come out too white. Thankfully, lighting is — once again, ideally — part of the aesthetic in these places. The available lighting is most likely perfect if you’re looking from the right angle, and that's why your quest to find the right angle should revolve around the available light.
5. Don’t plan to edit
Sometimes pictures need a few finishing touches; for example, if you follow the first tip and now there's a certain someone-that-shouldn't-be-there in the picture, part of the editing process would be blurring/cropping out their face — if you really have to. Some editing apps also have distortion features that stretch the edges of the background out. You can use this instead of outright cropping.
Unfortunately, food can lose its allure if it looks even a tad bit too unnatural. So, you have to make sure that you’re satisfied with a good number of the pictures you take as you take them. Your aesthetically pleasing photos of food should be as aesthetic as they can be without any editing.