How to Take Delicious Instagram Food Photos: 6 Pro Tips for Shooting Hotter Than Hot Food Porn

As a part of my job as a food writer, I am constantly photographing my meals. In fact, sometimes I feel like I spend more time snapping pictures of my food than I do eating it. The extra effort is worth it. The best shots – the ones that have the power to make viewers literally salivate or exclaim, “I want that in my belly now!” – get posted to my Instagram account @nevinmartell or are sold to a variety of print and online publications.
How to Take Delicious Instagram Photos

I shoot exclusively on my iPhone 6 using the Hipstamatic app because of its versatility and extensive variety of filters. Additionally, using a phone camera allows me to do my work relatively unobtrusively in a restaurant, so I’m not disturbing other guests while I painstakingly document my dishes and drinks.

Though it seems super easy to just whip out your phone and snap a few shots of the steak you’re enjoying, it’s actually quite difficult to make it look good. We’ve all seen the bad shots people keep posting to social media. They’re often poorly lit, out of focus, and have no clear subject. Worst of all, they make the chef’s or mixologist’s hard work look downright unappetizing.

Food photography should inspire a sudden hunger or an unfettered desire. That’s why they call it food porn. So, if you want to shoot wow-worthy pics that rack up the hearts and make your friends envious of your dining regimen, follow along to learn how to take delicious Instagram food photos.

Light

Utilize natural light whenever possible by shooting next to a window or outside. If you can’t shoot during the day, never use a raw flash. Instead, get another diner to cover the front of their iPhone with a white napkin and turn on the flashlight app to create a soft light.

How to Take Delicious Instagram Food Photos

Beautification

Sometimes you need to do a quick mini-makeover of a dish before you photograph it. Wipe smudges and crumbs off the plate, arrange garnishes attractively, and pull sandwich halves apart so the fillings are visible. Remember to take pictures quickly, because ice cream melts, sauces congeal, and greens wilt.Continue Reading

Waiter, I Can’t Hear My Food: Survival Tips for Noisy Restaurants #hackdining

restaurant, food, dining

So, you recently enjoyed a tasty meal at a noisy, hip restaurant only when you were headed home you noticed your ears and head were throbbing leaving you wondering if you had just dined at an industrial construction site? Don’t worry, you haven’t suddenly morphed into your grandparents (unless you’re also dining at 4:30PM), and you probably aren’t imagining things either. You’ve just entered the increasingly common, ear-splitting world of high-volume modern fine dining.

Following of the trend that accompanied the California cuisine wave of the 80’s and 90’s, more and more fine dining places have broken with tradition and are jettisoning stuffy settings and dress codes while focusing their energy on exceptional food. Now you can eat like a VIP but still wear jeans. The casual vibe has moved from décors to DJs.

As chef-proprietors have become the norm, they also bring their sensibility from the kitchen to the front of the house. The thinking is if their Spotify playlist is good enough for the back, it is good enough for the dining room. And the volumes can be ear shattering. While it’s nice to no longer have to wear a tie to dinner, I might like to hear from my date before paying the check.

Part of this trend is economics: an environment of loud music creates a party-like atmosphere and, it turns out, is a proven method to boost alcohol sales. More booze, more profits. A collateral effect is that it also tends to drive customers out faster… tables turn quicker, more profit.

So, what to do about noisy restaurants? Unless you’re regularly packing ear plugs, here are some more practical tips that might help:

1. Do some homework. If you’re unsure about your destination’s atmosphere and you need a place with a quiet vibe, do some research on what kind of acoustic environment to expect; reading through recent reviews on OpenTable is a good place to start. You may not mind a full-on raucous hoopla on a casual night out with some friends. But if you are taking out your future in-laws for the first time, you’d be well advised to head someplace you can savor their every

2. Share your beef. If you find yourself sitting inside a human snare drum, don’t be afraid to ask the management to adjust the volume. Just know that they may well resist. One critically-acclaimed, but infamously cacophonous Italian eatery has been known to inform their customers that neither the music selection nor the decibel level are negotiable and have gone so far to nudge their diners to head elsewhere if it’s not to their liking. Other, less rigid restaurants, however, typically strive to keep their customers happy and may bend to accommodate your polite request.Continue Reading

Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger Shares First Dinner Date Tips for Valentine’s Day

Headed out this weekend for a first dinner (or brunch or lunch) date in honor of Valentine’s Day? Here, world-renowned Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger shares first dinner date tip for a date so delicious he or she is sure to delete Tinder. The essential ingredients for a great date? “Communication, chemistry, and compliments — with a big amount of manners thrown in!” But, there’s a lot more to it, as well.

OpenTable - Pizzaiolo

The first step toward dinner date success is selecting the right restaurant for romance. Should you look for a hip, sexy spot or something more lively? “Quiet, an intimate setting, ambience, and lighting are key,” according to Stanger. “A girl always looks beautiful under candlelight.” And don’t forget to use the notes/special requests to the maître d’ option when booking on OpenTable. “It’s always nice when the person who made the reservation requests a quite table so they can hear each other talk. If it happens to be close to the kitchen, only accept the table if the kitchen has soundproof glass windows.”

Famous for issuing a strict two-drink maximum at her Millionaire Matchmaker mixers, we wondered if the same rule applies when you’re out on an actual first date? “Yes, I recommend ordering one bottle of wine.  A bottle of my sweet red sparkling from PS Match is perfect as it has four glasses total, which is ideal for any romantic date,” she suggests.

Waiter Serving Delicious Food to Young Couple in Restaurant

Now that you’re past the drinks, should you go with shared plates or items with grand tableside preparations – or something else? Stanger recommends trying the tasting menu together. She notes, “A tasting menu with great wines is the perfect shared romantic experience because it allows you time to get to know your date and enjoy the food. Since it is small portions, it is not over the top filling, which gives you energy for what’s to come next!” For those with special dietary restrictions or picky eaters, convey the information politely and in a matter of fact manner. “Nowadays, it is not unusual for someone to say, “I’m gluten free, allergic to shellfish, and so on.’ It’s better to be safe than sorry just to go along. Just tell your date, ‘I don’t want to be a pain because I’m sure any restaurant or menu you pick will be fine, just please know I’m allergic to ___.” A good date will inform the chef and management ahead of time because that shows that they care.”Continue Reading

Fork Off: Shared Plates Etiquette #hackdining

Shared Plates Etiquette

“I’m from a large family of sharers. When one of my sisters married a non-sharer, she morphed into one herself. It was traumatic. It’s been 30 years, and we all still talk about it… Ironically, the fact that her husband was raised Catholic seemed less controversial to my Jewish family….”

Sharing meals with others can be a social rite that borders on primal. We naturally congregate around food — celebrating special occasions, conducting business (power lunches, anyone?), or simply gathering around the table with family to recap the day. Eating together — whether it’s two of you or 10 – is how we are wired.

Sharing actual food, however, is a whole other matter. A quick survey of diners reveals a near-polarized split between those who love communal eating and those who guard their plates for dear life. The former expect to collaborate on ordering and graze from as many dishes as the table can handle. The latter see it as a hygienically suspect invasion of personal space

One extreme view came from a self-proclaimed foodie, who volunteered, “I love sharing food. I once dumped a guy because he wouldn’t share.” When pressed about her rather extreme reaction to being denied a bite of her date’s entrée, she just shrugged and replied, “It’s a deal breaker…a true indicator of personality.”

When such birds of a feather flock together, how do they dine together? To find out, I pressed a crew of friends who explained their very clear-cut system for shared plates etiquette: “We have a group of five friends that go out for dinner two or three times a month. Each of us orders a different app and a main. When the dishes arrive, we take a few bites and pass the plates to the left. We all get to taste everything while leaving enough so that it makes its way back (with some left) to the original diner.”

While some people take it as their god given right to jab anything on their neighbors’ plates, the feeling is not always mutual. Here are some shared plates etiquette tips for navigating this potentially fraught terrain in good taste:

Exercise caution, and, when possible, choose your venue accordingly. If you are a sharer, don’t assume everyone else at the table will be as well. Ask before making plans that involve lots of plate passing. It’s generally safer to plan communal dinners with people you know well and who don’t mind your chopsticks invading their terrain. Don’t take your future mother-in-law for Ethiopian or Korean barbeque before you’re confident she won’t balk when you start pawing her dinner.

Be sensitive to those who don’t care to consume in the same manner as you. Don’t just leap in fork first and start picking away at your neighbor’s plate. Ask — and be sure to read body language. If, when asked to share, they pucker and deposit a forensics lab specimen-sized sliver of their chicken on your bread plate, chances are you are dining with a non-sharer. Don’t persist unless tormenting them is your objective.Continue Reading