How to Take Better Food Photographs in Winter

Take better food photographs in Winter

This blog post about taking better food photographs in winter originally appeared on my old blog, EatsLeeds.co.uk, but has now been republished and redirected here to ZoePickburn.com.

Learn how I take great food photos, even in the low light of winter

While this post can help you to take better food photos without natural light, there are some additional factors for improving your food photography year-round. Raed some of my other posts to find out:

 I love Insta. I don’t see it as a tool to bring traffic to my blog (less than 10% of the traffic to EatsLeeds actually comes from Instagram), which means that I get to use it for what it is meant for: beautiful pictures (mostly of food).

BUT winter makes it way harder to take beautiful #Foodstagrams. My number one tip for improving your foodie instagram pictures is to take them in natural light. So how do you take good instagrams in low light? Here’s my method:

How to Take Better Food Photographs in Winter

How to Take Great Foodstagrams when Theres no Daylight:

        • Take pictures in the daytime

          I’ve literally just mentioned this above, but it is super important to reiterate this in winter, when there is very little daylight. It’s no coincidence that most of my insta feed is taken up with breakfast – I eat it at my desk around 09:30, which means that there is daylight outside and I goddamn make use of it!

        • Batch!

          When I’m shooting pictures for recipes on the blog, I always take a few with Instagram’s square format in mind (I know you can use different sizes, but I like the aesthetic of squares). Batch-shooting doesn’t have to mean taking out an entire day though: I post once a day, so sometimes I might take a picture of my breakfast in the morning, then if I’m eating a pretty lunch I’ll photograph that too, but save it for a day when I’m living like a hermit and won’t be taking any pretty foodie pictures for instagram. In winter, daylight is precious, so make use of it when it’s there.

        • Set up a light reflector

          This goes hand-in-hand with the above point about batch-shooting your food photographs for Insta. If you get chance to take a few hours during the day to shoot a few foodstagrams ahead of time, you can maximise the watery winter light by setting up a few white foam boards like [affiliate link] this pack of 10. You can see my set up below, with the boards leant up around a low table, and the sunlight coming in through my kitchen window:

      Better Food Photographs in Winter

      • Invest in a decent camera…

        This post focussed on taking beautiful food photos and editing them using a smartphone app. If you’re a casual Instagrammer that makes total sense but, as the nights have drawn in, I find I’m shooting for Insta on my DSLR more and more often. If you’re taking foodstagrams for business, I’d recommend investing in a decent camera (I’m totally in love with my [affiliate link] Canon EOS 1300D). It is definitely in investment, but so worth it for the quality of pictures, ease of use, and wifi connectivity, which means that I can take a professonal-quality food photo and send then straight to my phone to upload to Insta in moments.

      • … Or at least in some decent lighting

        Obviously nothing can replace natural light for making your foodstagrams gorgeous, but sometimes your dinner looks amazing, the sun has just set and you want to get a good shot, sharpish. Whether or not you have a DSLR, a couple of [affiliate link] basic softbox lights like these are an absolute lifesaver when you can see the sun creeping below the horizon and your dish just isn’t quite picture perfect yet.

      • Learn to use editing software

        Now, the most important thing is to take great foodstagrams – that’s why I’d reccomend investing in some kit, and taking time during daylight hours where you can, to help make the original photographs as great as they can be. But editing your photos can just give then that extra oomph: Think enhancing, not correcting.
        Nowadays, you don’t need to spend money to access powerful software: for phone photography, try a free app like VSCO (and check out my guide to editing foodstagrams using VSCO). For a Mac or PC try the browser-based free photo editor Pixlr (and check out my guide to using Pixlr for food photography) – it has many features comparable to Adobe Photoshop, but is free-to-use and can be accessed anywhere from your browser. Give me a shout in the comments if you’d like a guide to using Pixlr for food photography.

      • Have Fun

        Every one of my food photography guides has iterated this point: remember that it is only for Instagram or social media. I know its an important marketing tool for many foodie businesses and bloggers, but don’t let it stress you out. The nature of Instagram, like other social media channels, is transient: today’s slightly ‘off’ shot will be buried in a matter of hours. Curate the most drool-worthy feed you can, and don’t panic about the rest.

      How are you finding insta in the winter? What are your top tips to take great foodstagrams? What other guides would you find helpful?

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