Ever since launching our #EEEEEATS hashtag (and over 1,000,000 photos later), we've been getting a lot of questions, like, “How do I take a great food photo?” or “How do I get my photo into #EEEEEATS of the Week?” or "WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME?" So, we thought it would be a good idea to answer these questions and throw together a quick guide on how to become an expert mobile food photographer/the most annoying person in a restaurant. Just follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to the #EEEEEATS Hall of Fame.
Consider Your Approach
The first thing you’re going to want to do when taking a photo of your food is decide on framing. How are you going to come at this gigantic pastrami sandwich in a way that clearly shows the internet what you see in real life? This is probably your most important decision and it's often the most overlooked. Don’t just whip out your phone and quickly take the picture to avoid dirty looks. You’re never going to see that couple at the table next to you again, so take your time, plan out your shot, and do it right.
One of the most popular ways to frame a food photo is with something called the Top Down method. In most cases, your food should generally be in the center of your photo, with mostly equal space around all sides. The easiest (and one of the best-looking) ways to achieve this is by standing up and looking directly down over your food. This gives you the flexibility to frame the shot with perfect symmetry. We suggest pulling this move in as many high-end, stuffy restaurants as possible. What's French for "sit down, asshole?" You're probably gonna find out.
Once you’ve mastered the Top Down method, feel free to get right up in that plate of pasta. Get really close, so the food fills almost the entire frame and you can see all the little details. This is a tricky shot, and it only works if you’ve got great lighting and perfect focus. If either of those are off, don't do it.
How do you get that great lighting mentioned above? Usually, it’s about your location in the restaurant. Try to choose a table that’s below some lights or near a window. However, always avoid harsh, direct light. Too much light can kill a photo. To that end, never use a smartphone flash when you’re taking a food photo. If you absolutely can’t find any light, you can use the flashlight app from a second phone to brighten the general area of your food. This is a level 10, expert social media douchebag move, but it works. People take themselves too seriously anyway.
If your photo is even the slightest bit blurry, it sucks. Promise. Don’t even think about putting it on Instagram. The good news is, if you’ve mastered the lighting techniques discussed above, you can probably get great focus. The key is to hold the camera extremely still and lightly tap your phone's screen to focus on your subject. Don’t move. Make sure the photo is super clear, then snap away. Take several photos in this position so you have a few to choose from.
Put Your Food Up in the Air
Once you’ve become a pro, you can try some new framing techniques. Ever see a photo of a ramen burger with NYC in the background taken at Smorgasburg? Of course you have. That’s because every single person in your Instagram feed took this exact shot last summer, and it spawned a whole new category of amateur food photography. There’s even an Instagram account, @foodintheair, that curates all of the best food pics of this variety. Food in the Air is a slam-dunk way to get your photo some looks. Simply grab your food and put it in front of a nice, picturesque, outdoor landscape. Snap away. Make sure the horizon behind your food is completely level and even across the entire width of your photo.
Shoot Something People Will Want to Eat
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many photos we see of absolutely disgusting-looking food. Sorry, but no one wants a close up look at that sad turkey wrap you're having for lunch. Instead choose something that is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, like lobster rolls, burgers, wings, donuts, tacos, or anything that involves runny egg yolk. Avoid things that don’t look appetizing, regardless of how good they taste. Oh, and if you want to guarantee yourself that elusive 100+ like photo? Ignore everything we just told you in this post and just go buy a damn cronut. Works every time.