Food Styling and Photography Tips for Instagram

Last September, I had the pleasure of participating in a Mobile Food Photography Workshop conducted by Tenthousandthspoon for Mothers Who Brunch.  You can read all about the event HERE — it was so much fun 🙂

IMG_1498Jaclyn and Jayde are the talented sisters behind Tenthousandthspoon, and together they share their beautifully-styled food photos with almost 50,000 followers daily.  Here is a small sampling of their work:

Photos by @Tenthousandthspoon

I learned so much from the workshop, and I’m excited to share everything with you today!  Here are Jaclyn and Jayde’s top tips for your best Instagram food photos ever:



  • Natural light is best for mobile phone photography.  Turn off all overhead lights!
  • Try shooting at different times of day and in different areas around your home.  From her own experience, Jaclyn shares that she prefers to shoot between 6 to 9 am or 3 to 5 pm.


  • Direct sunlight produces a very harsh image, so unless that’s what you’re going for, try to shoot near a window, or under the shade instead.
  • You can shoot either with the light behind the food, or coming from the sides.  If the light is still too harsh, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light.


  • Use white illustration boards as reflectors if you want to eliminate shadows.  Use black boards for moody, dramatic images.




  • Different kinds of food require different angles.  But it’s best to shoot and cover all angles so you’ll have different perspectives to choose from.
  • Use the grid on your phone to make sure the food is framed properly.
  • For overhead or topview photos (also called flat lay), use different sizes and shapes of plates and bowls.  Play with different patterns and arrangements.


  • For 90-degree and 45-degree shots, use props with varying heights and a non-distracting background.
  • Follow the rule of thirds.



  • Styling your food photos allows you to tell a story.  For our workshop, props were provided by Boqueria Lifestyle Market.
  • Before shooting, it’s best to come up with a theme or mood you want to achieve.
  • You can try creating an inspiration board for the food you’ll be shooting, or if you want your Instagram feed to have a one signature look.  The two most popular styles are rustic and minimalist.


  • Serious Instagrammers usally have a variety of boards that they use as the base for their food photos, from raw-looking wooden boards to granite tiles.
  • Prepare and arrange the plates your plates and props prior to shooting.  Then you can take test or practice shots, and move the plates and props around until it looks right.
  • Play with textures and colors to add depth to your photos.


  • Try not to let your food photos look too perfect and contrived.  You can try adding a few crumbs here, or a drizzle of sauce there, etc.
  • Use fresh ingredients.  Include some of the ingredients used in the preparation of the food.  Fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil, are always good to have on hand for garnishing.


  • Try doing action shots — include a hand reaching for the food, or spooning some sauce.
  • Use plain and matte bowls and plates.
  • Smaller bowls and plates make food look more plentiful and abundant.



  • It’s important to have a clear, sharp, and properly lighted photo before you shoot.  No amount of editing can save a blurry or badly lit photo.
  • Use filters very sparingly, if at all, as they can alter the color of the food.
  • Instead of using filters, try adjusting sharpness, structure, and brightness.  You can also increase or decrease saturation and warmth as needed.

And that’s pretty much it!  Whew!  Now you know it takes a whole barangay  to come up with a really good Instagram photo.  Nobody expects you to follow all these tips for all your photos, of course, but I do hope you learned a thing or two.


And to all the Instagram haters who say Instagram makes them insecure about their lives… please know that underneath the wooden boards, is probably a not-very-pretty monobloc table.  Beyond the perfect table setting there are toys scattered all over the floor.  Nobody’s life is perfect, and you’re not pretending that yours is, just because you post inspiring images on Instagram.

Instagram is your very own magazine, with everything styled and curated by you.   So get creative, and enjoy!

Follow Tenthousandthspoon for your daily dose of food inspiration and Mothers Who Brunch to be updated on their future events.

Cover photo by Tenthousandthspoon, all other photos by me.  Styled by Tenthousandthspoon with props by Boqueria Lifestyle Market.

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