Cover Photo: @suganth/Unsplash

Get your meal looking its Instagram best with these pro tips from food stylist Trisha Toh and photographer Noah Zain

Nowadays, one’s visual perception of a dish is more crucial than ever thanks to the power of social media. From glossy Hokkien mee to flaky croissants, all food can be aesthetically pleasing—it’s up to you to make it look good on camera.

We speak to renowned food stylist Trisha Toh, who had styled the beautiful food spreads in Tatler Dining Guide, and photographer Noah Zain of AllCaps Creative, who has shot for Li Restaurant and Nespresso, to share eight useful tips on how you can make any dish look fit for the ’gram.

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1. Less is more

Trisha Toh (TT): Don't over-edit your photos. Be careful of over or under exposure as bad lighting takes away the focus of the food. I like to keep my photos as natural as possible, especially when they are taken on my phone, so simple does it any time.

2. Know your food

TT: Food knowledge is key. Always do your research first. I would like to see less props and clutter as it takes away from the actual focus which is the food and the subject matter.

3. Simplicity over sophistication

TT: I would suggest not to overcrowd Instagram stories with text and information, or use really small fonts that are not clear enough to read.

See also: 15 Local Food Instagram Accounts to Whet Your Appetite

4. On the ugly delicious

Noah Zain (NZ): Focusing on tighter shots and shooting with a macro lens would be one way I’d go around this. You can also try to work with the overall scene, not just the food.

TT: Totally embrace it for what it is. Again, lighting is important so giving it the right amount of exposure is sufficient. Adding more elements around it such as a drink that shows what you’re enjoying the dish with, or some banknotes and coins on the side like how you would have them ready in a kopitiam, would add a layer of interest to enhance the story of the food.

5. Bring in the props

NZ: I always carry fake ice in my prop box. You never know when you need to shoot a cold drink and you don’t want it to over-dilute.

TT: It’s hard to narrow down but I have a few essentials that I always carry: a box of assorted cutlery from wooden to brass, an array of wooden trays and plates to provide depth and texture, napkins to add softness and texture, and most importantly, a tweezer, some Q-tips, brushes, and a spray bottle!

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6. Consistency is key

TT: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles of editing; there might just be one that you like. When you have found the formula to your favourite style, stick to it for a more consistent feed.

7. There's more to food than the product

NZ: I love plating and doing videos of food. Just seeing a dish come together is what I live for.

8. If the app fits

TT: It’s incredible how our phones have kept up with the world of photo-taking that editing straight on the native camera works wonders. However, on the side, I would use Snapseed to brighten or adjust the contrast in a particular area of interest. For the pros, you could use Lightroom. If you’re looking to spruce up your carousel posts, I like using SCRL, where I can have a mix of photos in different layouts, almost like in a magazine.

NZ: I use Lightroom Mobile or Snapseed. Editing the colours and adding contrast can always take food photos to the next level. For some extra oomph, use an app called Lens Distortions to add some light hits when you feel like the photo needs it.


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