Instagram Tips From Our Favorite Food Bloggers

Food Stories
The Faux Martha

Image via @TheFauxMartha

As a food blogger with a day job in digital marketing, I’ve always had a keen interest in the intersection of food, technology and social media. Since launching Make A Story last fall, Instagram has served as my biggest source of inspiration for recipe development and food styling. Through the platform, I have discovered and connected with other food bloggers, editors and enthusiasts around the globe, many of whom are passionate amateurs like myself, interpreting food in their unique style and voice.

Today, we’re proud to announce the official launch of Make A Story’s Fresh 100, a daily list of the best food photos on Instagram from our favorite food magazines, blogs, editors, photographers and stylists. The Fresh 100 calculates the engagement rate of Instagram photos pulled from a carefully curated list of Instagrammers, then ranks them from 1 to 100. The site is automatically refreshed at 9am daily so you can expect a fresh batch of delightful food photos every morning. Our hope is that this beautiful, mouthwatering feed inspires you to embrace culinary adventures of your own.

To help us celebrate, we asked four of our favorite food bloggers to share their Instagram tips and tricks with you.

Image via @thefauxmartha

Image via @thefauxmartha

Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha

What kind of camera and photo editing apps do you use for your Instagram?

I use my iPhone only. I’m a bit of a purist in this respect. I edit the same way for most pictures using Afterlight (bump up the brightness, add contrast, sharpen a tiny bit, then apply the Russ filter.) This post is a little outdated, but you can see my step-by-step process here.

Can you share some of your Food Styling 101 tricks or tips?

I tend to be a minimalist, so I remove things from the shot rather than adding (I envy people who can compose more elaborate images!). I use a lot of white space to draw attention to the subject, which is usually a bowl or plate of food. To spice things up, I add a bold napkin, a colorful plate, and lots and lots of enamelware. I’m obsessed with that fine camping gear. Lately, I’ve been playing around with new compositions. There was a time when all my shots were very centered. Now I try to have something peeking out from a corner or side to create a bit more visual interest. I’m totally learning as I go. Photography has never been all that natural for me, which leaves me hesitant to give tips. Lately when scrolling through feeds, I’ve been drawn to bright pops of color and contrast. I’m trying to incorporate it into the way I shoot and edit too.

What are your Instagram DOs & DONTs?

Do: take a lot of photos, or as I like to call it play. You’ll start to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Do: write to people and network. It’s such a cool community. Do: tag people when they inspire something. Do: use hashtags. I’m just starting to use them. It’s a good way to get your images in front of new eyes. Don’t: compare yourself. Easier said than done. I fall into this, and it does nothing but stifle creativity.

How have you built your Instagram audience?

Oh, this is a hard question. I’m not sure. Awhile back (maybe 2 years ago), I decided to keep my feed pretty curated—90% food with all an all white background, similar to how I was shooting for my blog. I think this helped. People like to know who/what they are following, even if that means white backgrounds with minimalist compositions.

We’d love to hear what you’re working on that you’re excited about and would like to share!

Gosh, I wish I actually worked ahead. I usually work right up until the last minute. It helps to keep things a little more real and unedited for me. Unless I’m posting a previously taken picture for a post on my blog, it’s happening live. My favorite line from Ellen Degeneres, “Why procrastinate now when I can procrastinate later.”

Image via @brooklynsupper

Image via @brooklynsupper

Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper

What kind of camera and photo editing apps do you use for your Instagram?

Right now, I only share images taken on my iPhone (5s) and edit in VSCO. Lots of my favorite accounts seem to be moving away from the mobile only ethos, and I’m giving a lot of thought to occasionally adding DSLR images into the mix.

Can you share some of your Food Styling 101 tricks or tips?

I like spare, simply styled images where the food is the star.

Instagram DOs & DONTs?

Oh man, I’d never want to say what people should or shouldn’t do on Instagram. For me, I notice that images that tell a story get the most engagement. I recently made a pie that bubbled way, way over. It was a mess! But when I shared it on Instagram, it became my most liked image by a long shot.

How have you built your Instagram audience?

I’ve had a few shares of things that gave me a nice bump, but other than that, mostly just one follower at a time.

We’d love to hear what you’re working on that you’re excited about and would like to share!

My blog was recently named a finalist in the Most Delicious category for the Saveur Blog Awards. It’s been wonderful to get that kind of recognition. Beyond that, I’m gearing up for the growing season and trying to really up my gardening game this year.

Image via @skye_mcalpine

Image via @skye_mcalpine

Skye McAlpine of From My Dining Table

What kind of camera and photo editing apps do you use for your Instagram?

I use either my iPhone and edit with the IG tools or my camera (Canon EOS 6D) and edit with Lightroom.

Can you share some of your Food Styling 101 tricks or tips?

For IG, I try to capture moments that I think are beautiful, so the food styling is mostly organic. I just try to be mindful of what might make for a beautiful picture, as I cook. So pausing a moment to capture a bowl of strawberries, if the light looks nice. Then attention to detail, so perhaps moving this bowl slightly to the right or that one a little to the left. And pretty plates: I think that a fine blue china or patterned china plate go a long way towards making food look appealing! I can never resist a pretty plate.

What are your Instagram DOs & DONTs?

Do shoot in natural light – it gives a lovely colour palette to the image. I find that if I shoot in artificial light, there is a yellow tinge to the image that is almost impossible to correct. Don’t feel shy about commenting on people who you admire’s feed – even if they have a lot of followers and receive a lot of comments already! When I first started on IG, I sort of felt self-conscious and awkward about commenting on other people’s images – even if I loved them – but then over time, I got over that and I’ve made so many great connections and friends on IG just through saying hello!

How have you built your Instagram audience?

Both on my blog and with my IG feed, I try to paint a picture and tell a story – the story of my day to day life in Venice, as well as what I am cooking. I am always excited to share details of my life with the people who follow me – and am endlessly surprised by the lovely response that I get!

We’d love to hear what you’re working on that you’re excited about and would like to share!

At the moment I am focused on writing the blog – playing around in the kitchen and exploring hidden corners of Venice with fresh eyes. And I am also organising workshops in Venice with a focus on cooking as well as food photography and writing. The next one is this October in collaboration with Marte Marie Forsberg – I think that it’s going to be really quite special, I am very excited about it!

 

Image via @sliceofpai

Image via @sliceofpai

Joann Pai of Slice of Pai

What kind of camera and photo editing apps do you use for your Instagram?

I use a variety of cameras: when I photograph for work I use Canon 5d Mark ii, when I travel I’ve started carrying around a Fuji xe2. Most days when I’m just out and about, I use my iphone 5.

All photos I post on Instagram are edited with my iphone. I use Vscocam filters and fine tune things on Snapseed.

Can you share some of your Food Styling 101 tricks or tips?

With food photography, the most important thing is lighting. The most beautifully styled food could look unappetizing when photographed in bad lighting. I work primarily with natural light so am always hogging tables by the window at restaurants. Try to avoid any direct overhead lights, direct flash, or direct sunlight because it makes it look harsh and creates strong shadows.

When it comes to composing a photo, think about the story you want to tell within that little square. I set my phone camera to square. Pay attention to what’s in the frame, if there are objects that don’t fit your story, remove them if you can. For example, one evening I made a really delicious prawn risotto and photographed it. Only after it was done did I notice my boyfriend’s stinky hockey equipment hanging in the background. Try not to have something that would distract people from the focus. Don’t be afraid to explore different perspectives, styling.

I always do a bit of editing for my photos, but not overly so. I tend to adjust things like brightness, contrast, color temperature. In the end, food has to look like food!

What are your Instagram DOs & DONTs?

We all use instagram for different reasons so I try not to tell people what to do!

Do: I’ve found looking at other people’s feeds really inspiring. Connecting with others. Share what you are passionate about.

Don’t: Try to curate and spread out your posts- I find it overwhelming when people consistently post more than 3 a day.

How have you built your Instagram audience?

I bribe people with candy, kidding! It’s been growing pretty organically, I would say. There was never a drastic jump, just slow and steady. I keep sharing content I’m passionate about and engaging with others in the community. The instagram community is the best part about using the app. I’ve met so many amazing people through it.

We’d love to hear what you’re working on that you’re excited about and would like to share!

I’m working on a move to Paris! It’s where I first started photographing and I’ve been wanting to move there for years now. It’s the place where I feel most inspired. I’m looking forward to photographing (and eating) a lot of french pastries.

Thanks to the Melissa, Elizabeth, Joann and Skye for participating. Also, we’d love your feedback on the feed. Leave us a comment and please enjoy, share, click, like, RT, etc. Thank you! 

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