5 Tips for Eye-Catching Smartphone Food Photography

Capturing great photos of food on your smartphone can be hard – unless you have the right advice, that is!

Although it’s easy enough to whip out your iPhone and take a few pictures of your dinner party, if you wish. beautiful food shots – the kind that will make viewers stop and stare – then you need to master your camera settings, lighting, composition and more.

I’ve been doing smartphone food photography for long time, and in this article, I share my top five tips for eye-catching smartphone photos (with a particular focus on lighting and composition).

So if you’re ready to improve your images, let’s dive in, starting with my first tip:

1. Use natural light as much as possible

smartphone food photography

When it comes to food photography, lighting is everything. Knowing how to use light is what separates amateurs from pros.

Now, most smartphone food photos are taken at restaurants, and they tend to look awful for one major reason:

Restaurants typically use harsh, unflattering fluorescent lighting. (It is also often tinted with a green or yellow color cast.)

Luckily, it’s easy to fix:

Instead of relying on artificial light, place your food near a window. And take a few snaps with its soft, flattering light.

Just make sure the sun isn’t too bright; you don’t want it casting harsh shadows that don’t flatter your dish. If you are Sitting near a window that’s too bright, you can place a small scrim between the window and the food, or you can simply move the food around until it’s out of direct sunlight.

By the way, once positioned near a window, note the precise direction of the light. The best lighting usually comes from side Where behind food, so reposition your smartphone until you get the perfect angle.

This next shot features a nice sidelight, which came from the left rear:

smartphone food photography

2. Choose the right angle

When taking photos of food with your smartphone, does your plate sometimes seem to slip off the table? Does your food sometimes look too big or too small?

That’s because most smartphone cameras use wide-angle lenses – and when shooting wide-angle, the wrong camera angle will make your food look distorted.

In other words, you can not just choose your angle according to your convenience. Instead, to get the most natural results, you need to choose an angle carefully, one that will help prevent perspective distortion.

My recommendation? Go down above the table and film your scene at 90 degrees. This will create a beautiful image with lots of depth and minimal visible distortion.

Alternatively, you can shoot directly above the food, looking down; this will reduce the depth for a cool graphical effect:

smartphone food photography

A 90 degree approach also allows you to show more food in the frame, which is great for shooting full tables. Note, however, that 90 degrees is not a great angle for tall foods, like burgers or stacks of pancakes. Shoot these subjects from the bottom up on the table so you can show off their layers!

Unfortunately, a 3/4 angle – where you shoot about 45 degrees above the food – rarely works. This is an easy way to create distortion issues, so I recommend avoiding it as much as possible. (If you really want to go with a 45-degree angle, try stepping back and switching your smartphone camera to telephoto.)

3. Use minimalist compositions

Intricate tablescapes are fun and attractive, but they’re often difficult to photograph.

It can take a lot of careful arranging to make a pleasing composition, and by the time you get it right, the food may no longer look appetizing.

So, instead of relying on large and sophisticated compositions, opt for minimalism. In other words, keep it simple.

Introduce a few foods and an accessory or two (like a utensil or a piece of laundry). Spread them on the table so that the eye is drawn around the frame.

This minimalist approach usually works well, especially if you’re a beginner. It will keep the focus on specific foods and help you create graphic compositions like this:

smartphone food photography

Pro Tip: If you have time, experiment with different background colors. Bring fabric or a poster board that complements the food and plates, then have fun trying out different combinations of food and accessories.

4. Pay attention to the composition of your food

If you spend time looking at photos of food on your smartphone on Instagram, you’ll start to notice a trend:

Most shots tend to look…messy. Cluttered. Overwhelming. For example, the background may have distracting shapes, or you may notice half a dozen props scattered around the image.

But the better food photos feature neatly ordered backgrounds, neatly positioned foods, and neatly positioned props.

In other words, they use good composition.

Now, food photography composition is a complex subject, which can take weeks, months or years to master.

But there are a few simple composition guidelines you can use to organize your foods for great results – and they take very little time to learn.

First, try to include one or two empty areas where the eye can rest for a brief moment as it moves through the image. (that’s what we call negative space.)

You see, if every part of the image is covered with ingredients or props, it will confuse the viewer and create claustrophobia. But the negative space will provide some respite and help the viewer focus on the main subject.

So resist the urge to fill every part of your image and instead add areas of pure background, like the dark sections behind this cake:

smartphone food photography

You should also try using the rule of thirds, a compositing directive that divides the image into thirds, using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines:

smartphone food photography

According to the rule of thirds, you should position important elements of the scene, such as food or props, along these grid lines. Where along the grid intersection points.

Finally, be sure to include a clear focal point in your pictures. A focal point should be eye-catching; really, this should be the area of ​​the shot you want your viewer to notice the most. Images without focal points tend to seem aimless, so do what you can to include a focal point (or two).

5. Tell a story

Everyone loves a good story.

And if you can tell a story to your viewer – a story that takes place in the frame or just outside – your shots will be much more compelling.

For example, you can tell the story of food creation by including various ingredients throughout the composition, or by including the chef’s hands in the shot.

smartphone food photography

Alternatively, you can include a partially eaten item (like a cookie with a bite missing) to tell the story of the food’s consumption.

Or you can include the server’s hands to show how the food got to your table.

The human touch has become very popular in food photography; such a lifestyle element creates a sense of atmosphere and relativity, which is why it has spilled over from Instagram into the world of commercial food photography.

smartphone food photography

Smartphone Food Photography: Final Words

Hope you now feel ready to capture great food photos on your smartphone!

Focus on lighting. Think about composition. And tell a story.

With a little effort, you’ll be capturing great food photos in no time!

Now your turn :

Which of these smartphone food photography tips is your favorite? What do you plan to incorporate into your own photos? Share your opinion in the comments below!

smartphone food photography

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