Have you ever been the one to awkwardly stand over your plate at a restaurant to take a photo of your food? It’s nothing to be ashamed of if the photo ends up being awesome! Food photography is becoming more an more prominent on social platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. So how can you become a master at food photography? What sizes are best for each social platform and how can you get the most out of each post? This content creation guide covers tips and examples on how you can become a pro at food photography and videography for social media.
The Most Important Aspect of Food Photography: Lighting
With food or drinks placed on a flat surface, it’s critical to have natural lighting (or lighting that looks natural). That means not using flash and not just relying on regular indoor lights, but not being directly under bright sunshine either. Returning to my past blog post, The HelloSociety Content Creation Guide for Pinterest, I highly recommend that anyone that plans on photographing or videoing food, whether it be for a blog post, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine or YouTube post, invest in a lighting system. It can be as simple as buying a reflector ($10-$20) and a grip holder ($15-$25), buying a light box, or making your own light box at home.
Once you have your lighting system down and tested with food, it’s time to figure out angles and how to best utilize your camera. Whether you’re using a smartphone as your camera or a DSLR, we recommend checking out the tips linked below to learn how to best use them when shooting food.
Tips for Smartphone Users:
Smartphones are a powerful tool and are perfect to use for making Instagram posts and Vines. Check out this article on A Food for Thought sharing why taking photos with a smartphone can be great, with tips included.
Tips for Camera Users:
Using a DSLR is best when shooting for blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube (if it has video capability), although you can use your smartphone for each as well. This article from Cookie and Kate shares everything you need to know about food photography tools and basics with a professional-level camera. This post on Serious Eats goes into helpful detail on lighting, angles, and composition.
Great Examples of Food on Social Media
Instagram: If you’re shooting with a DSLR, save as a square at a minimum of 640 x 640 pixels for Instagram. If you’re shooting with your smartphone, your photo will be good to go through the app. We recommend editing your photos with VSCOcam before uploading to fix color and brightness, or using Instagram’s built in editor for just simple edits.
Twitter: Save every photo for Twitter at a 2:1 ratio. Photos saved for Twitter are ideally ~800 x 400 pixels. You can share vertical images on Twitter as well, but note that Twitter will try to automatically identify faces to center on, and if the image uploader doesn’t identify a face it will just center the photo to fit the size of 506 x 253 px when previewed on your stream. Check out the great food Tweet example below. It share the name of the recipe, the direct link to the recipe, the link to pin (aka: save) the recipe, and the photo of the soup. Not only is this food blogger getting that traffic, she’s promoting repins of her image as well. A smart use of her 140 characters.
Facebook Page: Photos saved for a Facebook page without a link should be vertical and can be the same size of image you’d pin onto Pinterest, around 720 x 1200 pixels. Facebook posts with links however have a set size of: Maximum – 1200 x 630 pixels and minimum – 600 x 315 pixels. So if your image doesn’t have text in it, just use your Twitter photo for Facebook page posts as well.
This great Facebook page example from food blogger Vanilla Bean Blog is another example of sharing both the link to the recipe or post along with a ‘pin it’ link. A perfect way to share her latest gorgeous and yummy creation.
A great Facebook page example from Vanilla Bean Blog
Tumblr: Image proportions can vary but we recommend aiming for a minimum of 540 pixels wide and no more than 1280 pixels wide for hi-res images. See this post for more details on Tumblr images sizes.
The great thing about Tumblr is how, with most themes, the profile will look great with both vertical and horizontal images mixed together. See the examples below and note how nicely the vertical images look next to horizontal shots. Tumblr is a great platform to share the style of your personal brand, with mixed in linked blog post shots. It’s similar to Pinterest, with less of a focus on organization and how to do things, and more of a focus on visual inspiration and simple aesthetic.
The first example I have above shares a mixture of food photography along with inspirational imagery, like table settings, beauty, home decor, and flowers. It shows how you can incorporate your food photography onto Tumblr in a beautiful way. Just make sure to hyperlink all of your own images so they’ll link back to your posts where the recipes live!
This second Tumblr example is from food blogger Local Milk. She shares mostly inspirational pins on Tumblr with the same neutral color theme as her own food photography.
Pinterest: Always pin vertical images. The perfect pin size is 720 x 1200 pixels. If the image is smaller than that, aim to crop it to 500 x 833 pixels or 600 x 1000 pixels.
Food Blogger Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod has an amazing food-focused Pinterest account. She organizes all of her recipes in their own categories (like Two Peas & Their Pod Cookie Recipes) and covers food on over 35 boards!
Her Food Styling board has a bunch of gorgeous food photography inspirations.
Vine: A Vine’s standard size in the app is 480 x 480 but should be able to get to 600 x 600 for when expanded.
Vine is a cool platform to share how-tos on making recipes. Each frame can be a different ingredient or step (like mixing then pouring then putting in the oven) with the last frame as the finished product or just a few crumbs left. We recommend using a tripod when making a Vine to keep it perfectly steady. Good lighting is also just as important for a video as for photos. See this article from Twitter to learn all about becoming a pro at Vine!
YouTube: Videos shot for YouTube should be shot in MP4. YouTube uses a 16:9 ratio. Aim to have the video be either: 1080p and 1920×1080 (best), 720p and 1280×720, or 480p and 854×480. Learn more about YouTube dos and don’t here.
A great example of an awesome food YouTuber is: Byron Talbott. He has great lighting and composition and his zoomed-in intros are gorgeous and intriguing. Check one out below!
What are your favorite food bloggers and photographers on social media? Any tips or tricks we missed? Read What Makes Content Creation So Valuable to Brands? and Instagram Tips & Tricks 2015 for more social media tips and examples!
Have questions about how you can optimize your content for social media, increase your followings, or improve your accounts? Contact us at email@example.com.
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