While millions are eagerly snapping and sharing food images on their travels, the quality of these photos can vary. Heathrow has today become the first airport in the world to enlist ‘Food Instagram Ambassadors’ - in the form of culinary superstars Hemsley & Hemsley to help travellers take the best Instagram food shots before jetting away. In celebration, they offer their top tips for taking a foodie pic that's Instagram worthy.
As with any kind of photography, lighting is key. We think that natural light is best when taking photos of food, so if you’re dining out and want a great snap for the gram, ask for a table by the window if possible. Flash lighting can look harsh and never looks as good as naturally lit images once it’s been edited or overlaid with a filter. If you really need a little extra light, using the torch on someone else’s phone can be a more subtle way around using a flash. iPhones are equipped with pretty good exposure settings too so you can tap the darkest part of an image to brighten it up a bit.
Normally, we’d say don’t play around with your food, but in this instance, do! By that we mean rearranging food on your plate to make it look more striking, or adding contrasting garnishes like fresh herbs, chilli flakes or black sesame seeds. Food can start to wilt quite quickly, so be conscious that you’ll have to snap away relatively fast to get the most mouth-watering shot. Having olive oil or water to hand helps as a little spray can help bring dishes, especially salads and veg, back to life.
Experiment by playing colours and textures off of each other, such as glossy desserts on a matte plate, or stark, bold ingredients laid out on to a neutral or marble surface. Creating contrast in some of your images will make them more eye-catching and memorable. Try getting napkins and candles into the frame too to really set the scene. Hands reaching for food also brings the photos to life and can make them look more personable.
Leave a little to the imagination, and by that we mean don’t stress if you can’t to fit everything into one frame. Letting plates of food, ingredients, napkins or chopping boards fall outside of the photo can look natural and allows the viewer to picture the full scene for themselves. Some people like to divide images up into tiles using other apps such as PicSlit or Instagrid, giving the full image a greater impact on your feed.
It’s important to look at the bigger picture, so bear in mind how your Instagram feed looks as a whole. Do all the tiles complement each other or do they clash? Develop a look and feel that is uniquely yours and and roll with it, people will follow you because of that! You can keep the consistence by paying attention to the kinds of images you like and the favorites that you’ve taken yourself.
Got the jitters? Try tucking your elbows closely into your sides to keep the camera as still and stable as possible. This will avoid blurring the image and may or may not also work those tricep and core muscles! Tapping on the screen of your phone helps focus the image too.
We like to get up close and personal with our food, so if you’re after a more closely cropped shot, move yourself and the camera lens closer to the subject as opposed to zooming in, as this can decrease the quality of the image, especially if you’re using a mobile phone.
When posting your image, it’s helpful to geotag the place you’re eating at and also include the handle (if they have one) in the image so that people can find your recommendation easily via Instagram and Google maps. If we’re posting a home-cooked meal, our followers love to see which ingredients we’ve used so sometimes we will tag our favourite brands/suppliers too.
Variety is the spice of life so mix up your composition with a main course, drinks and a side or dessert, it’s nice to be able to see a full meal in a shot and can inspire future visitors to order similar dish combinations. What’s more, having the variety of dishes and drinks can add different dimensions to your photos.
Don’t be afraid to get snap happy and take multiple images from different angles until you find the best one. Practice makes perfect!
**According to Instagram hashtag research conducted by Heathrow in July 2017.