If you ever spend any time on the popular photo sharing site app Instagram, you've probably seen a lot of really mediocre food photographs. It's kind of a craze right now to be like, "Hey, I'm having a pizza bagel. Let me take a picture and send it to everybody I know."
And that's great, you know, there's a time and place for that, but there's also something to be said for really good food photography. One of our sister publications of Popular Photography is a magazine called Saveur, which is a food photography magazine, and just talking with them and looking through their images, I've come up with a couple really basic ways to ensure you're going to get great food photographs, even if they're just going on Instagram.
One thing to take into account, as with any photographic subject, is your light source. A really easy way to get a great food photograph is to bring the plate, or the dish, or whatever, over to the window, a fixed light source, whatever it might be, and use that to your advantage.
A lot of people like to shoot straight down, just have the full plate, and that's okay; but a lot of times if you get a little bit closer, and you abstract areas of the photograph, it just makes for a better, more appetizing looking image, taking into account the different colors in the foods, on the plate, the texture, and just focusing on something that's really going to make it look appetizing.
I like to personally vary my aperture and get a shallow depth of field. So let's say I'm taking a picture of piece of chicken with some broccoli rabe and potatoes, maybe I'll focus in on the chicken and kind of abstract and throw out of focus the other things. I just make sure, you know, a really delicious food photo. So if you are going to do this and post it to Instagram, I'm not going to judge you or anything, but do yourself a favor and do everybody else a favor, make it look good.