It’s hard to know what the holidays were like before the existence of Instagram. Now, every time you go on the app, there are hordes of photos showcasing all the awesome and gorgeous seasonal fun happening at all times. It can be hard to keep up, especially when you’re still trying to figure out how to take better Instagram photos of your Thanksgiving dinner without making your meal look completely unappetizing (even if it so is.)
Without knowing how to set up your phone or which filters to pick, getting Thanksgiving food to look delicious and double tap-worthy can be a minefield. Mashed potatoes can either look so good you want to stick your face in them or like a sad pile of goop. Turkey can look glistening and mouthwatering, or like sad, gray meat. And the list goes on. It’s a meal that contains ingredients that don’t make for the easiest food photography in the world, which makes it insanely important to know the best tips on how to shoot before the big night. Yes, getting that ideal shot of your feast certainly isn’t easy, but once the likes come streaming in, it’ll all have been oh-so-worth-it. Up your Insta game this Thanksgiving with just a few tricks from a professional photographer that’ll make everyone jealous they’re not eating at your house for the evening.
1. Use The Right Camera
To take an ideal Instagram photo, you’ll want to learn a few for what to do before you even open up the app. “The first thing is to never start off by using the in-app camera,” says Matthew Ziegler, a professional photographer based in NYC. “Use the iPhone camera instead. That’ll allow you to have more room to play, and it just makes for a better experience before you even get into Instagram.”
2. Practice The Rule Of Thirds
You know that grid on your screen? It's there for a reason. Ziegler suggests using it as a guide to keep the main focus of your photo within just a third of the overall photo. “If you keep the turkey on the left side of the frame or the right side of the frame, it’s instantly going to make it more interesting than if you put it smack dab in the middle of the frame.”
3. Frame Your Feast
Ziegler recommends adding interesting backgrounds to the photo so that your turkey (or whatever your meal subject is) is surrounded by other objects of visual interest, noting, “Instead of showing the turkey or showing the food on a table, you can switch up your angles and go low or go high to get more perspective than if you just point your camera and take the photo.”
4. Embrace The Blur
For a more artistic pic, try achieving depth of field with your phone, which is where the foreground is in sharp focus and the background is a little blurred. Ziegler notes that you can do this by getting "really close up to your turkey [so] you have some space between the turkey and the background," and centering in on your main subject.
5. Don't Forget The Filter
Once you get into the app, "start by using Lux to adjust the brightness and contrast of your photo for optimal, natural looking light," Ziegler suggests. Food photography especially looks better this way, as any discoloration can make for very sad, unappetizing-looking food. Then, try playing with filters with that in mind. If you don't know where to start, Ziegler would recommend trying Hudson, as it "has a blue cast, and digital photos tend to look a little yellow, so it helps cancel that out." Once you've taken the photo with your favorite angle and worked to keep the photo as natural-looking as possible, you'll want to find filters that match your visual voice and style to give your shot a unique perspective among all the different Turkey Day snaps on Instagram. Then, of course, after all that hard work arranging the shot, it's time to put that phone down and, you know — eat!