How Not to Take a Food Photo with Your Phone

Along with our stellar stories, we also pride ourselves on commissioning and publishing beautiful photography for each issue of Edible. A well-composed, well-lit photograph can be just as powerful as a well-written piece. See for yourself.

As with any art, visual or otherwise, we know that there are no exact guidelines. So instead of asking our photographers for food or drink photo rules when taking a picture with our phones, we decided to ask them what we shouldn’t do. That way, when it comes to taking our ideal food shot, the possibilities for capturing the image we want will seem wide open.

Got some local food and drink photos that you’d like to share? Doing so could score you a pair of tickets to one of our summer events. Just tag one of our favorite shots #EdibleEatDrinkLocal and enter to win two tickets to either The Big Chill or Bryant Park BBQ. Read full contest instructions here. Cheese!

Scott Gordon Bleicher:

Photography is all about perspective, both literal and figurative. Oftentimes, the random arrangement of objects on the dinner table after the meal — steak knives, wineglasses and crumpled napkins that form a subtle vignette of shape and space — can vividly capture an evening with friends or family.

Try to see it objectively. Notice the geometry — the curve of each plate and the intersecting lines of the flatware. Then change your perspective; get out of your chair and stand at the table with your smartphone hovering above, camera parallel to the table and frame filled. Take your time, take more than one shot and remind your embarrassed wife that you’re taking a photograph, not a snapshot. Get up on the chair if you must, but please, don’t fall off.

Liz Clayman:

• Don’t have blur in your photographs unless there is action. The gin being poured into the jigger is totally fine to see in motion, but an image of a martini glass that doesn’t have any sharp point of focus is no bueno in my book.

• Don’t use too many filters on your food shots. You can play with the style a little bit, but making the food look delicious is (usually) the goal. Stay away from under and over saturation of colors, as well as super grainy, retro-type filters.

• Don’t publish images with uneven horizons, edges or lines. It’s so easy to go in and give the image a little tilt to the left — the difference is huge.

Alan Gastelum:

• Stay away from candle light. No matter how sexy that plate of food looks in person, it’s never going to translate well from your photo to social media. Try to stay in bright open light — it’s what your phone loves!

• Don’t make your food images too busy. Simplify the image and you’ll be surprised how well it looks on social media.

• Resist your zoom feature. Most phones loose image quality very quickly when zoomed in and it will not do your food any justice.