3 Simple Tricks to Take Instagram-Worthy Food Photos

January 27, 2020

3 Simple Tricks to Take Instagram-worthy Food Photos

We’ve all been there. We create the perfect ramen bowl, or the artistic sushi plate arrives at the table, and the first thing we want to do is take a photo. But let’s face it: food isn’t naturally photogenic. 

Seán Duggan, Fine-Art Photographer and Educator, has your back. In his course Mobile Photography Weekly, he offers three easy iPhone tricks to elevate your photography and capture the ideal food moment.

1. Change the angle of the camera and the plate. 

This is a classic overhead shot of an appetizer with a standard angle of the plate—not so exciting, right?

By simply changing the camera angle, you can transform the shot. Instead of looking down at your plate, play with a straight-on perspective for more depth and interest. 

2. Get fancy with the lighting. 

The trick here is to take advantage of the restaurant’s natural light. Just take one of the serving dishes on the table and prop it up with the glass to create what’s called a “reflected fill.” The photo below shows how to set this up. If you don’t have an extra plate, ask the server to bring one. 

The reflected fill added quite a bit of light, kicking the photo up a notch. With a bit of extra styling with slight radial blur effect, you create a much nicer photo—like this:

3. Use the background of the restaurant.

In this case, because we have a circular plate and the food is arranged in a circular pattern, the classic overhead shot could work. But there’s a simple trick that makes for a far more interesting image. Incorporate the background of the restaurant to spruce it up and capture the ambiance. 


This photo is shot in portrait mode, which creates an artistic depth effect—the subject (the main dish, in this case) is in focus, while the fireplace background is blurred. Note that you don't need to show the full plate.


Duggan encourages you to move beyond that first shot and get creative. 

“There are so many ways to photograph beautifully-plated food,” says Duggan. “Have fun with it and don't worry if the other diners are kind of giving you strange looks because you're taking pictures of your food.”

For other quick tips on mobile photography check out Seán Duggan’s course,  Mobile Photography Weekly. Other LinkedIn Learning videos you may be interested in: