Natalie James’ 5 Tips to Instagram Like a Pro

November 5, 2015
Written by: Yasha Wallin

Last year out of millions, Instagram chose food photographer and travel personality Natalie James to be a featured user. Since then, she’s been recognized as one of the best digital food photographers by Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, and My Domaine. Who better than James then, to give us a lesson in food Instagramming like a pro. Check out her five tips below, and a selection of images above, and get ‘gramming!

  1. Natural Lighting: Breakfast, brunch, and lunch always make for the best photos. If you want to step up your food photography game, subtract dinner snaps from your feed and amplify the well-lit daytime captures. Dining al fresco is always a good move because utilizing natural outdoor lighting is almost as good as having a photo studio. Before you take a seat in any restaurant, find your light source and ask to be seated as close to it as possible.
  2. Apps to Use: Step up your game by downloading apps that can elevate a mediocre photo to good, and a good photo to great. VSCO – hands down the best app for bringing your image to life. With over 100+ filters to choose from and functions that allow you to change the brightness, contrast, clarity, and temperature of an image, this makes for the ultimate experience in hand-held photo editing. For those who love a straight line, bite the bullet and spend $1.99 on the SKRWT app, which will ensure you never have a lopsided photo again.
  3. Develop an Aesthetic: Almost all successful food Instragmmers have developed a very clear aesthetic. Find out what yours is and build from there. Do you love bright colors or minimal whites? Are you attracted to messy plates or refined bites? Figure out what speaks to you and move in that direction. Create an inspiration board of photos that you’re most drawn to and then get to work on your own vibe!
  4. Preliminary Research: Know what a restaurant, festival, or food truck is working with before you even pull up. Do they offer whimsical patio seating with great natural light? Are their cocktails on-point show stoppers? What is their tile situation like? These are all tidbits that can help you strategize what you can capture best while enjoying your meal. Added bonus: hit the restaurant’s Instagram account and scour their geotag. It’s here you can discover what plates look the most delicious and appealing, the perfect prep before you even step foot in the space.
  5. Navigating a Space: Have you ever been seated in a moody corner unable to capture the most beautiful bowl of pasta with shaved truffle because it’s so dark? Me too. Here is the moment of truth, where you decide how committed you are to being a cut above the rest on the food photography spectrum. If you’re serious, you look around for the best place in the room, grab your bowl, and casually make your way on over. Lay it down, take some snaps, and act like you’re simply going about your normal business. Hack: can’t find a decent spot in the entire place? Hit the restroom one time for ample lighting. Yes, it sounds insane – but it works!