TAKING and posting pictures of your food is without a doubt one of the biggest social media trends in the world. Not everyone gets it right though.
UberEATS commissioned some research into this and the results showed 90% of people aged 18-34 “care deeply” about taking high quality food photos. However, only 50% feel confident enough to post their pics. From what I’ve seen, this doesn’t necessarily stop them. Either that, or they truly think their food pic game is on point.
Recognising a great opportunity when they see one, the folks at UberEATS SA decided to gather a “select handful” of media and bloggers (yes that’s me) and invited us to an evening of food, wine, and photography tips from an expert.
The venue was the Blok showroom in Sea Point, where celebrity cook Claire Allen dished up three simple courses for us. The idea was for us to dress up each dish, and photograph it to its best advantage using the advice of food photographer and stylist Gabriella Esposito. The first was a plain bowl of tomato chilli soup, and on our tables were bowls of croutons, basil leaves, crispy onions, cheese straws, balsamic and olive oil, as well as various props – all of which we could use at will to accessorise our soup.
Some “photo booth” areas were set up around the venue for those who wanted to style their images on light, dark, or neutral backgrounds. These were clearly the serious ones, who are not satisfied with ordinary restaurant-style settings. Using the hashtags #FeastYourEyes and #ShareYourEATS, we were invited to post our efforts. Go on over to Instagram and have a look.
The evening continued with a main course Mediterranean feast, followed by dessert of two scoops of ice cream with multiple bowls of toppings and trimmings. A swag bag contained a useful selfie stick which transforms into a mini tripod, the mechanics of which had us all baffled at first. Note: do not take something apart unless you know how to put it back together.
The “rules” for capturing great food images are actually very simple, the first one being: never, ever, use the flash. It sucks all the life out of a photo. A professional lensman with a degree and everything once gave me the valuable advice “take it from above”; and find a good photo editing app for your phone with which you are comfortable. See below for more about this. While we’re on the subject, when photographing humans, unless you’re going for an arty-farty look, always hold the camera high for the most flattering angle (the double chins, darling). And always ask before you post; what you think is cool (and you look good) is not always what others see. Real friends don’t post ugly pictures. The end.
1 Lighting, with the brighter the better being the golden rule when it comes to food. Too many meals can look unidentifiable when badly lit, so lots of lighting is needed to pick out the ingredients, colours and textures. This does not mean the flash – see tip 3.
2 Find the best vantage point – “when in doubt, get high” are Gabi’s exact words. This is to ensure the image doesn’t look cut off, or like a simple snap. Ideally, the entire dish should be shown and the photographer should get some distance to capture steam or show the light playing flatteringly on the food.
3 Avoid the flash. “Where possible, rely on natural light as opposed to artificial and overly bright overhead lighting. If that’s not possible, there’s nothing wrong with taking a handheld light with you to ensure you never let your followers down with a badly lit composition,” advises Gabi.
4 Post-production. There are a number of free apps available on Android and iOS for editing pictures which don’t require a degree to use them. Sharpen the image, crop it if needs be and brighten the colours. “It’s not cheating if you’re just enhancing an already perfect dish!” says Gabi.
No, it isn’t, and real photographers edit all the time. When you go out and use these tips to take your top foodie pics, be sure to include #FeastYourEyes or #ShareYourEATS.