Pretty Things: Instagram Tips From A Food Stylist
Food stylist Laura Williams is one of the first Hong Kongers I followed on Instagram for one simple reason: her account is absolutely gorgeous. Her award-winning blog and Instagram, called My Little Hong Kong Kitchen, has won the hearts and appetites of foodies in the 852 who consider her a go-to source for recipes, recommendations and daily doses of inspiration. When I decided I wanted to dedicate a blog post to crafting beautiful food images for Instagram, I knew she was the one I wanted to talk to.
I love how food stylists think about food imagery, and Laura shares that approach in great detail below. It takes a ton of work and talent to create and maintain an Instagram account like Laura's -- so if you're like me (obsessed with the platform and improving your game), check out her top food styling tips and tricks for Instagram below!
Food Styling Tips for Instagram
Instagram is a wonderful platform to share your food photography on. It can be food you make yourself, dishes your friends have made or even plates of food you order when eating out. Either way, sharing photos of food is becoming more and more popular and here, I share a few tips on styling your shots for maximum effect on Instagram and other social media platforms.
1. Light, Light, Light!
The light in your shot is arguably one of the most important factors in taking food photos. Personally, I think natural light is a fantastic way of making your photographs stand out and look more elegant and professional without needing extra photography equipment. Artificial overhead lights that you find in store or at home can make a shot look unappetizing and amateur. I recommend taking your photograph near a window that isn't letting in any direct sunlight (cloudy days are even better). This kind of light will be softer, it will highlight the food in the right way and add natural shadows to your shot. Don't use a flash!
2. Set the Scene
A snapshot into an eating scene is a great way to photograph food in the environment it is designed to be eaten in. Flatlays (or birdseye view shots) are a good way to highlight a table scene. Add extra plates, cutlery and linens around or behind your main dish (be it soup, a cake or a large bowl of pasta). Allow the person viewing the photograph to feel that they can dive right into the scene and start eating. Tell a story with your photograph - make it inviting. Add a spoon into your soup, take a slice from the cake or use a fork to twist your pasta into a bite that is just ready to eat!
3. Develop Your Own Style
More often than not, the more established food accounts you follow on Instagram will have their own "style." That is to say they may shoot their photos with a particular background for example. Experiment with your food photography, use different angles, props, backgrounds. After a while, you will begin to develop your own Insta style, a style that will help your feed and photography become more recognizable.
4. Colors and Textures are Key!
You will find it very difficult to make a brown stew look pretty as it lacks both color and texture. To maximize food photography potential, try to shoot food that is fresh, colourful and texturally varied. Vegetables, salads, vibrant soups, smoothie bowls and cakes can all help your photos pop. If you are shooting foods that don’t offer much in the way of color or texture, try adding fresh herbs like parsley and mint, edible flowers or swirls of cream.
5. Use Apps or Programs to Perfect the Finished Shot
Photoshop and Lightroom are two of the most common post-production programs that photographers use to finish their food photographs. These apps allow small alterations to be made to the photographs e.g. making the color of your soup a little brighter, erasing flecks of dust, editing the structure of the photograph to show more texture and adding extra shadow where needed. There are some great apps that you can use on your phone that do the same job - try Snapseed or VSCO Cam App.