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Everyone knows that in today’s era your phone eats before you do. That’s been proven to be true with the amount of food content shared on Instagram daily. You’d be surprised how many post are associated with #food (over 400 million of them). And that’s just with that one hashtag alone! Whether you’re a blogger or just an avid foodie you’ve probably contributed to more than a couple hundred of those posts. But over the last few years restaurants have chefs have seen the value in sharing their food online as a form of promotion. Visual advertisements have always been apart of the food industry, so it’s no surprise that social media has become an important tool for them. And Instagram food styling has become not only a big part of that, but an industry of its own.

Anyone can easily take pictures with their cellphone, if you’re looking to get serious with your content it’s important to brush up on some Instagram food styling tips. Many people don’t realize that in the case of professional food photography, styling plays a huge part in things. In addition to setting props often times the food itself is styled and every little detail is controlled. Things like a sesame seed on a bun, or a sprinkle on a cupcake are carefully placed to make the food as appealing as possible. We realize this isn’t something that is realistic when it comes to photographing food made at home or a restaurant. But there are definitively elements of classic food styling that you can implement into your Instagram content.

We did all the research for you and compiled all the great Instagram food styling tips that will help you take the quality of your content to the next level!

Instagram Food Styling Tips

1. Good Lighting Is The Foundation

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Just like with an type of photography, good lighting conditions is the foundation to shooting great content. It’s important to have your food properly illuminated to capture all the colors and textures within the dish. Ideally you want to try and shoot in natural indirect light. So setting up a photography area close to a window is recommended. But if there’s no natural light to be found you can count on photography lighting to help you out. There are many options available for affordable studio quality lighting for use at home. For on the go pictures, we recommend a portable ring light or using a friend’s flashlight from their phone.


2. Shoot Freshly Served Food

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Freshly served food doesn’t just taste better, but it looks nicer too. When it comes to shooting food your timing is everything. You’ll want to move fast if you have elements that may wilt, melt or change appearance as it gets to room temperature. A freshly grilled cheeseburger will always look more appetizing if it’s photographed right away rather than letting it sit. Ice cream is another example – while a little melting might add some visual appeal a lot will look like soup. Baked good and other deserts might be the exception to the rule. Things like cookies and breads will harden and keep their integrity and photograph better as the cool to room temperature.

Wolf Global_Instagram Food Styling_Don't Play With Food

You’ll also want to avoid playing with your food too much before shooting your content. Once you’ve settled on your plating and arrangement, get the food onto the plate and let it be. Certain dishes may involve some intricately placed elements like layers or garnishes. But overall don’t overthink things too much and let the food fall in it’s place organically. After all you want to get the food plated, photographed and hopefully eaten sooner rather than later.


3. Create An Environment

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The main element of food styling is creating a story or environment to present the dish with. There are many ways you can do with the help of props or even just a good backdrop. Using the typical kitchen or dining table elements like cutlery, cutting boards and glassware are easy props you probably already on hand. If you’re sharing a recipe you might want to think about including some of your ingredients in the photo. On the other hand some people enjoy keeping it simple when it comes to photographing their food. They may chose to use a simple backdrop like a tablecloth or counter, which as become super popular in the age of minimal Instagram feeds.


4. Capture Natural Angles

Wolf Global_Instagram Food Styling_Capture Angles

Flatlays are usually the angle of choice when it comes to capture food content. After all what better way to see the plating then by how you would if you’d be able to enjoy it yourself? But sometimes that isn’t always the view that you should be sharing. When photographing food, it’s best to shoot it based on the direction the dish is taking. If the dish is built vertically like a ginormous plate of pancakes, you might want to snap an impressive side shot. But if you’re shooting a plate of sushi or a beautifully built avocado toast you’ll probably want to stick with a trusty flatlay to get the job done.


5. Remember The Food Is The Focus

Wolf Global_Instagram Food Styling_Food Is Focus

At the end of it all, these tips mean nothing if you forget one main thing. The food is the focus, and don’t forget that. So no matter how much, or little, you put into the plating and creating a setting to photograph if you don’t highlight the dish it’s all for nothing. A great way to do this is to work on framing your shot properly. Are you shooting a scene with multiple dishes while dining with friends? Capture the vibe of the table with a flat lay ensuring each dish fits naturally into the frame. If you’re shooting your latest baking accomplishment and want to include the key ingredients with it, just make sure their placement is to highlight the star and not hide it.