With endless opportunities to show off the delicious grub that we make ourselves or find out and about, is it really a surprise that food photography has taken off over the last few years? And now, with high-resolution cameras literally in our back pockets, taking photos of our meals has never been easier.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to take food photos with an iPhone, the types of camera lenses that you can add for a little extra flair, and some of the best iPhone photo editing apps that will make your friends salivate over every tasty treat.
How to Take Food Photos With an iPhone
Whether you’re taking pictures while standing in your kitchen or out at a restaurant, there are a few quick and simple ways that you can make your photos pop.
iPhone Camera Lenses
You might think that lenses are more associated with professional DSLR cameras, but these days, there are plenty of clip-on iPhone photo lenses (for very reasonable prices) that you can use to make your pictures even better.
Wide-angle lenses are perfect for flat lays, as they expand the surface area that your iPhone can capture in the shot. Or, if you’re more interested in close-ups, a macro lens will allow you to take a highly focused and detailed photo. Macro lenses are also great for the bokeh look, where the focus is on the subject in the front with a blurred background, and can help you to pick up on really defined features of your food.
iPhone Photography Apps
When it comes to photography apps, most of the ones for the iPhone will be for editing rather than shooting (which we’ll get to a little later). But there are a few that can help you to stay organized when you’re taking food photos with an iPhone, as well as adjusting some of the exposure options that you have available to you.
Gemini Photos is great for keeping on top of all of your images, removing blurry or duplicate shots that are clogging up your iPhone storage, and even helping you choose between similar pictures and deleting the others.
Camera+2 is another excellent choice if you’re really serious about your photography since it essentially turns your iPhone into a mini DSLR camera. You’ll be able to change the shutter speed, exposure, and focus on your images, as well as shoot in RAW, which is a must for budding professionals.
As all good photographers know, natural lighting is your friend, so download the Lumos app as soon as possible. For only a couple of dollars, you’ll have access to all the data you need about where the sun and the moon are at various times of the day in any location so that you can better plan your photoshoots for optimal light conditions. There’s even a setting to send you notifications about sunrise and sunset, different phases of the moon, or golden hour.
iPhone Photo Lighting
Whenever you can, always aim to shoot with natural light settings. Using artificial lights can do some strange things to the color and composition of your image, which will make the editing process more frustrating.
But this doesn’t mean you need to take your food out into the brightest sun in the middle of the day. In fact, shooting on an overcast day is actually ideal. If you find that your natural lighting is too bright, you can try holding a piece of paper or a thin white curtain over the light source (like the window you’re shooting near) to diffuse it.
If you’re shooting in the dark to give your food photos a moodier feel, use a small portable flashlight instead of the light from your iPhone. Not only are these usually not as bright, it also means that you’ll be able to move the light source around to find the perfect angle.
For those of you with newer iPhones, from the iPhone 11 onwards, you can even try the dedicated Night mode that’s specifically adapted to alter the iPhone’s camera settings in low light situations.
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Editing Photos on an iPhone
When it comes to iPhone photo editing, there are plenty of different ways that you can uplevel your shots.
If you’re new to photography, editing directly within the iPhone photos app may be a bit overwhelming, as you’ll need to have some familiarity with features like exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, and saturation.
If you’d simply like to add a filter to your images, an app is the best place to start. Once you’re more comfortable with how to edit photos on an iPhone, the “edit” function within the iPhone itself should be able to give you everything you need.
Best iPhone Photo Editing Apps
The OG of photo editing programs, Adobe Lightroom’s mobile app is perfect for all of your on-the-go food photography needs. You can even buy presets from creators all over the world that can be imported directly into Lightroom, meaning that you just hit a single button and apply a filter to your images. All of the settings that you’d normally spend hours playing with are all done for you—you just have to choose the setup that works for you.
This app is still one of the best out there for when you need to edit photos on an iPhone, with over 200 presets and filters to choose from. You can now edit videos within the app, too, if you’d like to add some movement to your food photography with pictographs or gifs.
Snapseed was developed by Google and has gone on to become one of the best professional-level editing apps for iPhones on the market. The app supports both JPG and RAW files, so no matter how you’re taking photos, you can make use of their extensive editing tools. Like Lightroom, you can also save presets to use again later and ensure that your food photography maintains a consistent look and feel.
A Color Story
Created by bloggers for bloggers, A Color Story is designed to bring out the freshness and vibrance of the colors in your iPhone food photography. There are over 500 filters to choose from, plus all of the manual options you need to get the look that you’re after. Even better, there’s a batch editing feature and an Instagram grid preview, so you’ll be all set for sharing your creations on social media in no time!
The clue is really in the name with this one. This food photography editing app has filters with names like Yum, Chewy, and BBQ that will give your images a crisp and edgy look. You’ll find a handy guide built directly into the app with hints and tips for how to take the best food photos, complete with a flat lay/overheard grid view to make sure that everything is lined up perfectly.
iPhone Food Photography Tips
The right lenses, lighting, and apps can take you a long way. But, here are a few more photography tips to help you take your food photos from off-hand snapshots to magazine-worthy images.
1. Choose a Neutral Background
Neutral doesn’t have to mean plain white, but stick with backgrounds that won’t distract or take away from your food subject matter. Contrasting colors often work well. So if you’re photographing a bright orange soup, try a pale gray counter or dark, rich wood table to make the colors of the food appear brighter.
2. Make Use of Negative Space
Negative space is an important part of creating eye-catching and memorable art, so try applying this same principle to your iPhone food photography. When you’re putting your shot together, think about where you can leave spaces around the food to draw the viewer’s eyes to the key subjects in the frame.
3. Change Up Your Placing and Framing
The greatest thing about having a camera in our hands 24/7 is that we can take pictures whenever and wherever we are. If you have the time, try moving your food around the camera frame, add or take away different extras like napkins or cutlery, and try different zoom depths or shot angles. You’ll soon see that even the smallest changes can make a big difference.
4. Get a Little Handsy
While well-styled food on its own can make a viewer salivate, there’s nothing like adding a human touch to your photos. Ask a few friends to be hand models or set your camera up on a tripod to use your own hands and reach for different food within the picture. You’ll be surprised by how such a simple gesture can add an extra level of enticement into a shot.
Ready to Take Drool-Worthy Snapshots?
Now that you know some of the basics of iPhone food photography, it’s time to get shooting. But, maybe grab a snack first. If you’re like us, all of this talk about delicious dishes made us hungry.
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