How to Make Your Food Look as Good as It Tastes

You have a beautiful bowl of pad thai in front of you, and the world needs to know! Snap it right and leave your followers wanting more.

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Tip No. 1: Choose Your Food Wisely

Not your average guacamole! This is *artisanal* guacamole made with jumbo lump crab, apples, chipotle puree, coconut vinegar, and toasted almonds from La Condesa in Austin, Texas.
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As much as we love a good slice of pizza, it happens to be the most photographed food on Instagram (the last count had it at around 20 million photos!). Focus on dishes that are unusual to set your photo apart from the thousands of others out there. Just doing it for Snapchat? Then pizza away, my friend.

Tip No. 2: Lighting, Lighting, Lighting


Downing fresh, hot, and very well-lit parathas while travelling around India last summer.

Repeat after me: I will not use my flash on food. Sometimes you have to know when to let a meal go by unsnapped—specifically if it's a dark (but romantic!) candlelit dinner. A glaring flash will only leave food looking one-dimensional and sad, so unless natural light is streaming in through the window and onto your balsamic-blueberry-grilled-cheese sandwich, take a rain check and enjoy the mood lighting.

Tip No. 3: Plating Is an Art Form


You don't have to be a Michelin-star chef to add a brushstroke of mustard to a dish, so try adding culinary flair with your own artistic touches! You'll be shocked at what a difference a tiny sprig of mint and a dash of cinnamon can make to an otherwise ordinary stack of pancakes.

Tip No. 4: Consider the Composition


Snapchat: perfect for letting everyone know which appetizer you're on during that once-in-a-lifetime 10-course meal.

The best part of a food Snap could very well be the caption you pair it with, so be sure to take into account not only how the food is placed on the plate but also how the plate is placed in the frame. Leave generous space for words or create an interesting spot to write them over, because nothing ruins a picture of a beautiful churro ice cream sandwich quite like a huge block of text covering the best part of it.

Tip No. 5: The Background Is Your BFF


Austin's new Central Standard has a bar practically made for snapping, with a stunning background and, in the foreground, carrot-spiced cake doughnuts.

Dying to show off the cake you just baked, but realizing it's a tad lopsided? Shoot it against a colorful, intricate, slightly distracting backdrop, and no one will be the wiser.

Tip No. 6: Shoot From the Stars


Tea time at my sister's apartment turned into mini-photo shoot time, and now I'll always remember not only the delightful raspberries we ate but also the rug I was standing on and the rings she wore.

The easiest angle to document the full mouth-watering spread of food in front of you is from above (a technique my friends call the "dinner table angel"). Sure, you might feel foolish standing up to take a picture as soon as the food is set down, but the inclusion of place settings and outreached hands creates a dynamic layout that also captures the vibe of the company you're in (bonus points to friends with stylish accessories!).

Tip No. 7: Aim for Messy, Not Dirty


It's a Strasburger family tradition to order everything on the menu—so I've learned to work with the mess.

When it comes to food, there's a very fine balance between messy and dirty: Messy means there's lots going on, injecting the scene with energy and giving the eye a million different places to travel. Dirty is a knife covered in butter that fell on the floor and then got put back on a pile of bread crumbs. Steer clear of the latter by giving your tabletop a quick brush-down and a once-over before snapping.

Tip No. 8: Color Is Key


Is there anything more uplifting than bright colors and delicious food? I don't think so.

Colorful food is happy food! Both in health and aesthetics. Make your photo pop by inching a vase of pink flowers closer to your plate, or, if you're really commited, order the pistachio-flavored macaroons instead of the vanilla ones.

Tip No. 9: Filter Like Your Photo Depends on It—Because It Might


Tasting ciders in the middle of winter calls for a deceptively warm filter.

While Instagram has more filters than we know what to do with, Snapchat gives you a precious four to pick from—so choose wisely! Keep your eye on the areas you most want to highlight (the crushed hibiscus petals on top of the doughnut, the warm glow of the nearby fire), and make sure the filter you choose doesn't overexpose or wash out the best parts.

Tip No. 10: Have Fun!


Sometimes I make pies, and sometimes they're silly. Not every food photo you take has to be worthy of The Met!

Whatever you do, don't take it too seriously—it's just food! The longer you spend finessing tiny details, the colder your food gets—and trust me, cold pulled-pork mac-and-cheese sliders are not worth a perfect photo, no matter how many likes it gets. So make a quick assessment of the lighting and composition situation, take a few snaps, and then dig in.

Want more personalized food photography tips? Add me on Snapchat and Instagram @chantagold and show me what you're eating!

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