Vacation in the Instagram era means making your followers as jealous as possible with gorgeous pictures (or at the very least, faking it with a pair of Hot Dog Legs). Mandarin Oriental's Miami outpost is capitalizing on this trend by offering guests a two-day package that includes iPhone photo classes with top local Instagrammers Brian Ladder and Jose Narvaez. On the first day, guests spend two hours taking photographs around the hotel with Ladder or Narvaez, picking up styling and lighting tips as they go. There's an emphasis on food photography, so participants will have dedicated time to shoot dishes at Gastón Acurio's on-site Peruvian restaurant, La Mar, without disturbing other guests. (Sometimes you need to stand on a chair to get the perfect shot, but just because you do doesn't mean other diners won't judge you for it.) The following day, students head off-property to capture a local Miami neighborhood—checking out Wynwood's graffiti-covered buildings is a popular choice. We're guessing it won't be long until you start seeing classes like these wherever you travel, but in the meantime, Ladder and Narvaez shared a few of their top tips, below.
Color Is Key
"If you're choosing a dish that's garnished with a pop of color, find a spot in the room with that same color detail and try to compose the shot with it in view. Or maybe the fork and knife have nice designs. Finding ways to bring out interesting elements in the food is always cool." —Brian Ladder
Go Over the Top
"I'm a big fan of the 'over the top' view of a tabletop. These are tough because it requires standing on a chair. The higher you can get, the more food you can fit! Make sure the table setup is neat, position the items in a symmetrical fashion and make sure you have natural light. Add in an accessory like a purse, some sunglasses or a magazine to add extra spice. Sitting close to a window or sitting outdoors is always the best way to find natural light." —Brian Ladder
"When choosing the angle from which you want to shoot your meal, think about maintaining the perspective you would have if you were sitting down to eat it. It can be important for showing height on three-dimensional dishes, whereas other dishes might look best with the top view." —Jose Narvaez