Food Paparazzi: An Insta-Pro Guide to Delicious Photography

Arguably the most important food photo of the day. Photo: Jannis Brandt

If there was one thing we learned about creating our first Food + Beverage Issue, it was that photographing food is — without argument — an art of its own. Did we think that our skills with shooting photos of carefully-composed, spectacular views from and around New York would translate to shooting photos of carefully-composed, spectacular food from and around New York? We did. Did we initially end up with a gang of photos that proved the exact opposite? We did.

This year, in an effort to curb (and, in full honesty, save you from) our lack of ineptitude in the food photography department, we enlisted NYC’s most-followed + most-liked food and beverage photographers to help lend us a hand at the table. Below you’ll find each of their most useful tips for properly ‘gramming the dish that lay before you, and most importantly, doing it tasteful justice. Enjoy.


Insta Followers: 143,000

Name: Skyler Bouchard

Age: 23

Profession: Full-time food blogger

I could eat breakfast wraps for every meal of the day

A photo posted by Dining with Skyler (@nycdining) on

Pro-tip: “Lighting plays up the texture of the food, but over-filtering photos can take away from the honesty of the dish. If a photo is too ‘sunny,’ I’ll up the amounts of blue and pink to make it more characteristic of natural lighting. I also play with saturation or the boldness of color.”

“I don’t think it’s rude to take photos at a meal if it’s done right. Sometimes, I notice people at the table next to me judging, but to each his own. I’ll just look at them and tell them it’s my job. It’s a great conversation starter!”


Insta Followers: 452,000

Name: Patrick Janelle

Age: 34

Profession: Entrepreneur

Pro-tip: “Often at restaurants, I will rework the plate or table setup so the styling really shines. Don’t assume that that way the food is served is the way it needs to be photographed. I also like to think about the texture of the tabletop — the napkin, the silver, the glassware.”

“I love the selective adjust tool on Snapseed; you can pinpoint a specific area of food and adjust the brightness and contrast. I use it to make a crispy pie crust look even crispier, or to bring out the darker area of a green salad. I always try to put my phone away immediately after taking my photos and post later so I can enjoy the conversation.”


Follower Count: 237,000

Name: Jeremy Jacobowitz

Age: 29

Profession: I run Brunch Boys full-time, but previously was a TV producer

Pro-tip: “Find your own style. I like to give height to my photos, and sometimes I play with my food to get the right shot. Maybe that’s cutting a sandwich in half and stacking the two halves on top of one another.”

“In some restaurants, taking photos might not be appropriate, but I think that’s changing quickly. You don’t want to be shining bright lights in the eyes of everyone, so I always ask to sit where sunlight is coming into the restaurant, being careful not to actually block the light with my body.”


Insta Followers: 15,200

Name: Benjamin Liong Setiawan

Age: 35

Profession: Contributing Editor, Esquire & Forbes

Pro-tip: “Comfort foods such as burgers, fries, ice cream, and pizza usually photograph well, but I’m a sucker for an artfully plated dish or a beautifully garnished cocktail. I have friends who prefer to visit a restaurant during lunch instead of dinner because the lighting is better.”

“If you’re at a casual gathering with friends who are understanding, then sure you can stand on a chair and get your overhead shot. But if you’re a guest at an intimate dinner, I would take cues from your host before rearranging the table. Once you have the shot, it’s time to put the phone down because all of that is secondary to enjoying your tablemates and the meal.”


Insta Followers: 7,019

Name: Emily Arden Wells

Age: 34

Profession: Architect by day, booze writer by night

Pro-tip: “Sit by the window or walk your cocktail over to a well-lit spot. I always scan the bar to find charming corners or areas with great lighting before I have even ordered a drink.”

“I generally don’t use filters because I think they stylize the photos too much. I use the editing features within Instagram, which can sometimes work better than Photoshop. If you’ve set up a shot well, all a photo needs is a bit of brightness and a contrast adjustment to make it pop. Make sure you tag the restaurant, chefs, bartenders, and, of course, geotag!”

Have room for dessert? Check out our Chefs of the Round Table series. For more pointers on keeping your Insta-game strong, head over to Amy Stone’s Insta Guide.