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How to Take Better Food Photos for Instagram

An expert shares her insider tips for taking a seriously savory snap

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It’s becoming more and more common for diners to share seamless snapshots of their spreads on social media before reaching for that first bite—but scoring the perfect photo isn’t always easy. For Alexa Mehraban, the foodie behind @EatingNYC, editing a single photo can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. She launched her food-focused Instagram account in January 2014 and has since amassed an audience of 137,000 followers. 

Mehraban typically takes between 10-50 photos before selecting the winning image. After choosing a photo, she uses CyberLink’s PhotoDirector, a photo-editing app, to produce the perfect Instagram post. In Mehraban’s experience, ‘food porn’ items like burgers, pastas, ice cream and pizza tend to perform best. 

Here, Mehraban gives DuJour four tips for taking prime food pictures for Instagram.

Lighting is key. One of the hardest parts of taking pictures for me is eating in dark restaurants. I use someone else’s iPhone flashlight and shine the light above the dish to create the effect of natural lighting. If it’s too dark, or the lighting looks too bright, I put a napkin over the flashlight just to soften it a bit for a warmer hue.

Switch up your angles.  I think with a dish that has a lot of depth I like to take an up close food style shot. That usually works well with a burger, or a bowl of pasta or even a really pretty salad. If it were something that is a little bit flatter, like a pizza pie, I would choose to take an overhead shot. 

Keep it simple. I try to make them look super natural. I think that’s the most appetizing. So, I will play with brightness and saturation on different parts to highlight the food and bring certain parts out.

Focus on last minute details. Food styling is definitely part of it. If there is a crumb on the plate or a little extra sauce, I always wipe that away and make the dish look its best. CyberLink’s PhotoDirector removal tool is my favorite editing trick. If there is a little spot you want to remove, you can use that feature on the app.