Let’s get a few things straight: we are all millennials, and few things satisfy us more than Instagram likes. I’m not in a sorority, so I don’t have the same following on social media as some girls at Tufts do, but I bet I can make my brunch food shot look better than your big/little reveal. It’s easier than you might think, as long as you follow my dos and don’ts:
Do: Remember to clean up any spills or smudges on the plate. Everything is magnified on Instagram, which is good when you want to show the delicate butter-flecked layers of your cronut, but less so when there are random ketchup marks all over your plate.
Do: Find a spot with good lighting to take photos. Natural light is the best option for this — try to avoid snapping pictures in a Tisch study room at all costs. If you’re in a particularly dark restaurant and are especially discreet, you can try a light bounce technique by having a friend hold up a white napkin vertically perpendicular to the shot and then shine his or her phone’s flashlight onto the napkin. This will softly brighten up the dish and help with color saturation in the final shot, which we all know means more likes.
Do: Take an overhead shot of the dish. An overhead shot tends to frame food better and give the viewer a better sense of the dish. Side shots are for the hasty Snapchatters of this world, not the food bloggers.
Do: Use props to your advantage when they fit well with the theme of the food. A nice pastry and the Sunday New York Times is a match made in heaven, as is a patterned napkin next to your French toast.
Do: Put the name of the restaurant or shop on the location instead of “Prob Zeta” or “Davis Square.” One of your followers might be inspired to go to the same place, and it’s always helpful to have that information to see what other people are posting from the same location.
Don’t: Put your hand in the shot. Even the most immaculately manicured hand will look like one from a Macbeth hag in an HDR shot. Just the food, please.
Don’t: Go crazy on the filters. Good food shot in natural light looks best without a hazy Valencia effect.
Don’t: Post everything you eat. Remember that quality always trumps quantity. For a good food post to have an impact, it should be from something decidedly non-ordinary. The internet does not need another picture of a Dewick salad, but your followers will appreciate a beautiful cheese plate from The Foundry.
Don’t: Try to typecast yourself by your Instagram food posts (or their hashtags, for that matter). Show your versatility with a donut one week and a smoothie the next, or alternate ice cream sundae photos with simple still lifes of seasonal fruit. People love to see that everyone is human and redundancy is rarely, if ever, appreciated in the Internet Age.