So You Wanna Take a Good Instagram Photo...

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor
December 11, 2013

So do we. Kimberley Hasselbrink, a San Francisco-based food and lifestyle photographer with over 9,000 Instagram followers, schooled us on the subject, so we’re sharing her tips with you, too:

Use natural light. Mother nature is the best lighting tool you’ll ever need. And when it’s dark out, don’t resort to flash. “If you’re an expert, it can occasionally be used artfully,” but beginners should stay away from it. “Flash is so harsh,” says Hasselbrink. “Even in restaurants with dim light, it’s better to try a shot without flash.”

Experiment. “Treat your phone as if it’s a more serious camera than it is.” Get out of your comfort zone! Try a new angle! If the result doesn’t work, don’t use it.

Download VSCOcam. “I resisted doing this for a while—I just can’t keep up with all of the trendy stuff!—but it made a world of difference.” VSCOcam is a free app that allows you to edit contrast, temperature, exposure, and use subtler filters than the ones that come with Instagram. “It’s a little quieter,” says Hasselbrink. “Instagram filters tend to be loud—you hit one button and it changes everything dramatically—and there’s normally this orange cast that doesn’t make food look appealing.”

Make a mess. “There’s an authenticity to that,” when things are smudged a bit or a fork and knife are splayed just so. “And utensils help bring it to life a little bit—it looks just as it would when I’m in the middle of eating it (because I usually am!).”

Step back. “Intense close-ups of food, especially half-eaten food, are not appetizing.” So step awayyyy from the food to get a little perspective. Shooting overhead is a way to do this—standing on a chair for a bird’s eye view—but of course you don’t want to do this in a restaurant. “I don’t like being conspicuous.” At home? Your kitchen, your rules.

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