How to Take the Most Drool Worthy Food Pictures for Instagram

The food is ready and you want to take that first bite—but even more, you want to take that perfect pic! Learn the Instagra secrets that top food bloggers use.

The Instagram Rabbit Hole of #Food #Nom #Yum

It’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is #nom, #foodie, and #yum on Instagram. After much scrolling and double-tapping, you look up from your phone and discover that an hour has passed—and now you're hungry, too.

The food photos on Instagram usually look pretty incredible: close-up images of juicy cheeseburgers, vibrant rainbow salads, and colorful platters of sushi—how do they take such drool-worthy pictures of food?

Instagram famous food bloggers aren’t always the most keen to share their secrets, hence they remain secrets. But we went through the work of compiling the top privy recommendations to take the best food pictures for Instagram.

Discover the tricks that top Instagram influencers use to capture that perfect #foodie pic.

Natural Light is King

Forget what you might think you know about professional photography. The notion that you need several different light setups, like a spotlight, or a flash, are all antiquated and exhausted ideas.

Shoot your photos next to a window. If the sunlight is too harsh, then you can use a white curtain to filter some of that light.

And what if you are shooting in a dark restaurant? Don’t use the flash!! It will distort the image by making the photo way too bright while also casting unnecessary shadows.


Photography Hack: If you’re dining with a friend, and you need more light to make the photo work, ask your friend to use the flashlight app on their phone. It really works!


Move the plate of food around to catch the best light. Sometimes it take fifty shots to find that perfect one.

Angle the Lens Overhead

Shots taken straight on won’t fully capture the whole plate of food. If you want to encompass every delicious nook and cranny of your tasty meal, angle the lens of your camera up so that you get a bird's eye view.

Sometimes, this means standing on a chair or placing your food on the ground. We don’t necessarily recommend doing this at a restaurant but cheers to you if you insist. Art is in the eye of the beholder, right? Best case scenario, the waiter thinks you’re eccentric.

Remember to always put the focus of your lens on the food; the rest of the photo can be blurry, that’s ok. You can shoot from farther away, or step in up close.

When you shoot the inner details of your delicious meal, you can capture in a photo what a person might miss in a glance.

White Plates, Light Backgrounds, and Negative Space

When you’re photographing the food, you’ll want the meal to be the focal point. To show off the vibrancy of the food, use a white plate to contrast. This way, the food you’re photographing for Instagram will be the main act—not the paisley decoration on the plate.

Light backgrounds also serve to highlight the food you’re photographing. Think about bringing along a white cloth towel, or a piece of lightly colored fabric, to act as the backdrop to your photo.

Simply lay it on the table, place the plate or bowl of food on top, and watch how the food on the plate bursts in contrast to the simplicity of the background.

Negative space is also great for ensuring that the meal is the focal point. In art, negative space refers to the empty space around the subject. You don’t need to crowd the space with objects to create a captivating photo.

Mess It Up a Bit

Food is ultimately about life, right? And life isn’t perfect. Put some humanity into your food pictures by celebrating those imperfections.

If your poached egg has a leak, take that photo. If the cheese in your quesadilla is a stringy mess, capture that moment. If your friend is reaching for a couple fries, let that arm linger in the frame for the photo.

Too much precision in a photo can make it look contrived and staged. Take a couple bites of your food, set down your fork, and then take that photo.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the dish, mix some things around, and enjoy the organized chaos.

Use Instagram Tools Sparingly

If you oversaturate an image or add a full vignette, it can really take away from the original photo. If you decide to use a filter, option to scroll it back a bit, and don’t use the full 100 percent.

A little sharpening, a little brightening, a little scrolling back on the filter, a little saturation and a little contrast—go a long way.

Test Your Skills with an #Instagood Chef'd Meal Kit

What tricks do you like to use when you’re taking drool worthy food pictures for Instagram? Which foodie influencers do you typically follow? What Instagram filter do you swear by? Share your comments with us and ask us any food-related questions. Use the hashtag #GetChefd to show off your food photography skills.