#Foodstagram 101 With Ryan Hinkson

All photos courtesy of Ryan Hinkson of @eatfamous
All photos courtesy of Ryan Hinkson of @eatfamous

With over 228 million posts tagged with #food on Instagram, and 26 million #foodstagrams tags and counting, there is no denying the immense impact that the social media platform is having on food culture and dining. Once considered a laughable social faux pas (though, some may still harbour these beliefs), one would now be hard-pressed to find any diner who begins their meal right away without snapping a photo or two. We are all guilty of it.

From shots of Gazpacho, seared scallops to even the humble pizza (reportedly the world’s most Instagrammed food), the #foodstagram is here to stay and for good reason. How else are you going to record all the brag-worthy dishes you ate, or to seek out the ones that you want to devour? Sharing food on Instagram has galvanized a new generation of foodies, all uniting to eat their way to culinary nirvana.

Of course, that all hinges on the quality of the #food shot. While a beautifully shot image of pasta al nero di seppia (squid ink pasta) will elicit joys from hungry bellies, a poorly shot ‘gram of the same dish might evoke a plate full of pasta stained with coal, or worse yet, well you get the picture. It may seem easy to take photos of food, but there is a cornucopia of detailing that goes into true #foodstagrams. Having amassed over 262,000 followers on Instagram by snapping delicious images of the most gluttonous dishes in Canada, Ryan Hinkson, the food curator behind @eatfamous, knows a thing or two about getting the right food shot. Ahead of his upcoming special foodie trip taking place this September with Contiki Holidays, where he will lead a group of hungry travellers to eat their way across southern Europe, we caught up with Ryan and asked him to serve up some of his top tips on how to shoot better #foodstagrams.

Foodstagram 101 with Ryan Hinkson - 2Lights, camera, and more lighting!
LIGHTING. LIGHTING. LIGHTING. You’ve probably heard it before but you are going to hear it again. Good, clean, natural lighting is your best friend and should be your prime focus – be aware of the elements. Too much direct sunlight casts nasty shadows. Look for some shade or shoot when there’s some cloud coverage. There is absolutely no substitute for natural light.

Focus on the food
Your parents said it. Your teachers said it. Your personal trainer says it. You need to focus! And it’s just a tap of your screen or the push of a button away. Pause and think before you take that shot. Taking a couple extra seconds to make sure you’ve got the sharpest image possible pays huge dividends when it comes to beautifully shot #foodstagrams.

Foodstagram 101 with Ryan Hinkson - 3Window trick
If it’s a cloudy or stormy day, and you simply cannot get outside to bask in the natural sun light, then your second best move is to find the best light source within the confines of the eatery. Nabbing a table next to a nice big window usually does the trick or if it’s patio season, get thee to the patio!

Cut it out
Don’t panic if you can’t get every single inch of your dish in frame. In fact, some of my most interesting or “artistic” shots are the result of me deliberately cutting a little bit (or a lot) of the meal out of the shot. This is also a great way to cover up that first bite you took before pulling your phone out.

Foodstagram 101 with Ryan Hinkson - 5Turn down the (background) noise
If the food speaks volumes, then turn down the background (noise). If the main dish in your shot is full of colour or a wide range of textures, then you don’t need to highlight much else. For example, the hotdog in the corresponding ‘gram is topped with lobster and mac & cheese. That’s already a lot to take in. I chose to shoot it against a plain white backdrop because an otherwise empty plate enhances the already vibrant subject.

Action shot
We’ve touched on lighting, and you obviously have a camera, now it’s time to inject some ‘action’. There is absolutely nothing wrong with showing someone reaching for the food in your photo. The reason? It is exactly what you want your audience to wish they could do. Whether it’s someone sneakily stealing a fry or an epic cheese pull, on-camera interaction with food creates a sense of realism that a lonely untouched meal just can’t.

Selfie time
For crying out loud, get in your own shot every now and then! My core mantra is that food is for eating, so prove how delicious you claim that dish is by getting on the other side of the lens and taking a bite out of it!

Foodstagram 101 with Ryan Hinkson - 4Embrace the mess
I cannot count how many times I have seen #foodstagrams being staged so that everything is perfect – no grease in the pizza shot or pepper that is out of place. Guess what? Some foods are meant to be messy and your audience knows it as well. Embrace this fact. In most instances, fallen toppings or that obvious spot of grease are actually adding to your photo, not ruining it. Food gets messy and it’s fine. No scratch that. It’s not just fine, it’s fun, it’s real, it’s natural.

Get cheesy
When in doubt, add more cheese. That golden, gooey goodness will instantly have people craving for it. Just don’t forget that cheese pulling shot – it works every time. Just trust me on this.

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