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Expert Tips

How to Take Photos of Food

How to Take Photos of Food

Instagram star Daniel Krieger's Brooklyn Photo Tour Photo © Daniel Krieger

Thanks to camera phones and apps like Instagram, everyone and anyone can take an amazing photo these days—you just have to know what you're doing. Here, incredible food photographer and Instagram star Daniel Krieger (he goes by @smoothdude) shares his brilliant tips for how to take the best-ever pictures of food with a camera phone.

Lighting
• Make use of natural light whenever possible. Window light is ideal, but try to avoid harsh direct sunlight that will blow out the tones in the photo.
• Smartphone cameras don't perform well in low light, so look for the spot with the most light to position your plate.
• If you have enough natural light to work with, shut off any overheard/artificial light—but don't expect a restaurant to do that during service!
• If the light is really low, it's probably best to skip that photo. There's little you can do to save a photo taken in a very dark setting, and your followers aren't going to engage with it.

Lighting Cheats
• You can download a free app called Flashlight or use iOS 7's built-in flashlight function. Either way, this will turn on the phone's flash continuously to illuminate the dish. You need to have a buddy with an iPhone for this one, though, because the camera and the flashlight can't be used simultaneously.
• For under $60 you can purchase a small portable LED light to tote around with you. It will help light food in dark places. Available at adorama.com.

Composition
• iPhone food photographs don't look great when you're too close to the subject. Take a second to back up a bit.
• Scan for crumpled napkins, phones on the table—anything that you wouldn't want to eat shouldn't be in your frame.
• An overhead or bird's-eye view composition is one of the easiest ways to make an iPhone picture look nice. If you're shooting from other angles, be aware of things in your periphery that will detract from the food in the foreground.
• Balance and symmetry draw viewers into a photo. You don't want to have too much or too little on a plate. Try to create a nice flow.
• Don't be afraid to move your body or the food around to different positions and experiment with different vantage points.

Taking the Photograph
• Use two hands when taking the photo to help keep the camera steady.
• Don't move around when shooting your image.
• Touch the area of your screen where you want to focus and let the camera focus in.
• Take several photos at different angles and levels so you have options.

Software
Snapseed is a free download and easy to use. When using the app, you should follow this workflow:

• Scroll through the images you've taken and choose the best one.
• Import your final selection into Snapseed.
• Perform a square crop on the image and try to use as much of the photo as you can. The more you crop an image, the more information you lose and the lower the resolution.
• Sharpen the image using "Details." You can sharpen it by +20 or +25 until it looks good to you. Then use "Structure” for maybe another +20.
• Use "Tune Image" to maybe increase contrast a bit. Adjust brightness as needed.
• If you want a vintage look, play around with the Snapseed filters instead of using the built-in Instagram filters—they can be more natural-looking because you can adjust them.

More Advanced Software
• A more advanced app outside of Snapseed is called Touch Retouch. It lets you clone out parts of the image you don't want in the frame. You might use this when there is a stain on a tablecloth and you want to remove it. Paying attention to those small details helps take your photo to another level.
Camera+ is another advanced program that helps you take photos, but I still suggest using Snapseed afterwards.
• Some cool filters can be found through the app VSCO.

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