In Defense of the "Food-Instagram"
Heads up: Olivia is Sakara Life's Social Media Manager, ergo, she is the one filling your feed with the most beautiful food photos on Instagram. This woman knows what she's talking about. Take the below to heart.
My identical twin sister and I were born within minutes of each other. I came into the world plump and red as a tomato while my sister emerged pale-white earning herself the name, Fiona which means ‘white’ in Gaelic. My name, Olivia, means ‘Olive’ in Latin. It’s also one of my Mom's favorite foods.
Fiona jokes that I hogged all of the food in utero. She also often reminds me that I used to steal her bottle by pinching her until she cried and dropped it. This trend followed me: my Mom nicknamed me Rollie from 101 Dalmatians and I’m pretty sure ‘cake’ was among one of my first words.
My point? I’ve been obsessed with food literally since before I was born, and remain pretty steadfast in my excitement.
I also grew up alongside the evolution of social media. While it was only natural that I, like so many other people, married these two by tweeting about food and posting food photos to Instagram, I am constantly perplexed by how controversial of an activity it’s become and how often I find myself having to defend snapping a photo of my meal.
Whether it be a fine-ass-looking selfie, your fluffy cat, or your sushi lover deluxe combo platter, we naturally photograph subjects that excite us. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Perhaps the contentious relationship and judgement that we face around our bodies and eating (thanks, society) is the reason that Instagram posts of food are met with quick judgement, or perhaps it’s the so-called unoriginality of it all. Or maybe -- it's a combination of the two.
No matter the reason, the best way to change the cycle, is to simply post as YOU please. For me, that means taking back the "foodstagram" and I really hope you all join me. Because that Sakara salad is just too beautiful to go unnoticed.
Here are my tried and true steps for taking a food photo for Instagram with your iPhone:
Step one: Stage
Ensure that your backdrop is aesthetically pleasing. Find a clean, light surface. If you have a pretty napkin, accessories, or a fun utensil, add that to the shoot.
Plate and beautify your food. Start with a base, such as greens. Fluff them and organize all other pieces of the meal. Pops of color such as an edible flower or berries made great accompaniment. Make sure the food is evenly distributed or centered on the plate. If you have dressing drizzle it lightly over your subject, but wipe away all other drips or stains on the plate.
Step 2: Lights
If it’s daytime, natural sunlight is critical. I (shamelessly) request a seat near the window at restaurants. If it’s night time, get a softer glow by borrowing your friend’s phone and boost up their screen brightness. Hover the backlight from their phone over your meal (it’s brighter than you think, no need for flashlight).
Step 3: Camera
The trick to iPhone photography is to hold your phone up as you would usually take a picture and tap the center of the screen. This will focus on the area that you tap. If you tap a darker area of the image, it will get lighter and vice versa. I usually aim for something in between. Once you find your preferred focus, you’re ready to go!
Step 4: Action
When shooting photo for Instagram, take as many as possible. Try different angles, steal an overhead and some side angle shots. I’ve found photos always look better while you’re taking them so the more selection, the better. Change the frame by swiping from right to left while in picture mode.
Step 5: Edit
Now that you have a bunch of photos and options, you’re ready to gram! Open Instagram and explore through your options. When you land on one that you like, use Instagram editing to achieve the best enhancement. I use the core four: Brightness 50%, Contrast 15% and Saturation 5-10% and Sharpen about 30%. These will vary depending on your lighting.
Bonus Tip: Captions!
Your caption is nearly just as important as the photo itself. For Sakara, we like to educate. But feel free to have fun with it. I’ve found that idioms, puns and lyrics are general crowd pleasers.
Step 6: POST!
Post your Instagram! If no one else, I care about your tuna tartare and oyster / rose combo, and the Morgenstern’s ice cream cone that you stood in line for 2 hours waiting for. I respect your choice to showcase any and all things macaroon. And I applaud that Sakara Salad photo + Beauty water that you so intentionally and pristinely staged.
And Viola. Now you not only have a delicious meal but a beautiful photo to go with it. So please, post away. Because soon, if not already, your Instagram feed will also be filled with countless sonograms and photos of children. And maybe, if those babies are like me, they’ll be swimming around the womb, dreaming about Watermelon Jerky.