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5 Tips for taking food photos on your phone:

A few months ago I ran a series of picture on my Insta stories where I showed you some of the most awful pictures I've ever taken of food and you guys loved it. There was, of course, the one where I'd constructed some sort of wedding with the decapitated heads of some king prawns. The was a picture of some cake with last night's cold, soggy chips in the background. There was a half-eaten chicken burger...I won't go on but if you want to see more of that shit show then do let me know!

Fast forward a few years and I'm taking more food pictures on my phone now than I ever was before and thankfully I reckon I've improved quite a bit. I quite often get asked how to take a decent food picture on your phone so I've put together a few tips I've learned over the years.

1. Light it Up

First and foremost: if you're attempting to take a picture of your food in a dark place you may as well not bother. There are several if not dozens of restaurants in Liverpool that I love but never seem to post about. Why? Because they're perpetually dark. Sure, it makes for a fabulous evening and a romantic atmosphere but if you're after a food shot you're straight outta' luck, buddy. So, unless you're going to buy an enormous camera light* which is  neither discreet nor sophisticated, or set your blinding flash off every 20 seconds then save your snaps for daytime dining.

Natural light is always best and I always find my best pictures come out during the day time. Try and sit by a window if you can- both for the light and the people watching of course- and in the winter you'll have to dine with the early birds before the sun sets! If that means going for your tea at 4pm so be it- you can be back home in your jarmies with a cuppa just in time for The Chase.

Restaurant lighting can be misleading and sometimes even the brightest places have strange lighting layouts that create shadows over your plate. If you've got a shadow try passing your phone over to one of your kindly obliging dinner guests who may have a better angle of your dinner that doesn't include the shadowy outline of your head.

*Yes I bought one, yes it made such a scene,, no I probably won't use it again.

2. Clean your camera

This one seems ridiculous to write but I can't stress enough how important a quick wipe of your lens is! If you think about how much we handle our phones a day (mine is essentially never out of my greasy mitts) your phone camera will inevitably become dirty and covered in day-to-day dirt. Table debris can get on there and anything you try and snap whilst its hot will steam up the lens making it look like you're taking pictures in the fog. Give it a quick wipe before you start snapping and you'll be amazed and probably a little bit disgusted at the difference it makes.

3. Tidy up your table

Unlike general lifestyle pictures, I personally think food photos look better when they're minimal and completely focussed on the food rather than anything else. Get rid off all the crap on your table that doesn't make the food look better. A well placed menu, nice plant or fancy tablecloth can frame the dish well and add interest if needed but everything else needs to go. Dirty napkins, used cutlery, your mate's phone and the back of the couple behind will ruin your shot. Those dishes you've already eaten? Get them out the way. Nobody ever ever ever wants to see a dirty plate.

4.  Enhance it's * natural * beauty.

Have you ever been out at night and been dazzled by the size of the moon only to get your phone out for a pic and find it looks like a tiny fuzzy pea? I tend to find the same happens with food sometimes. What looks delicious in person can sometimes fall a bit flat in a photo so I always like to give my shots a little helping hand to look their best.

No more than a couple of minutes on a  photo-editing app like Snapseed, Lightroom or even just the basic Instagram edits will allow you to make the colours  of your meal more vibrant and bring out the texture of the food. I usually whack up the saturation, fix the white balance and sharpen the details to make the food look like the best version of itself without making it look unnatural.

Speaking of unnatural- avoid putting a filter on your food. As lovely as those Insta-filters look on your selfies they'll rarely do anything to help your food look more appetising.

5. Get moving

Play around with where you're taking your pictures from. Tables full of small plates often look fab as a flat lay with the picture taken from directly over the top, whilst things that are stacked like burgers and pancakes always look better from the sides so you can see the layers.  Play around with different angles until you find one that looks good.

If you'd rather stay stationary (I wouldn't blame you) then get your food moving, instead. A dribble, pour or runny yolk is always a great shot and makes it a bit more dynamic. If you don't mind getting dirty then get dunking into dips,  tearing your pizza apart and grab hold of your burger buns with one hand whilst snapping with the other. 

Extra Rule: Don't take it too seriously.

At the end of the day, it's not the end of the world if you don't get a good shot. If you've spent 5 minutes trying to get a good one and they're still looking rubbish-give up and eat your food before it goes cold and your dinner guest refuses to go out with you again.  Don't order something just because you think it'll look good on the gram and don't order anything if you don't plan on eating it! It's just Instagram, remember.

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