We can probably all agree that great recipes and recipe photography are must-haves as we plan for 2019. It is imperative that fresh produce is shown in a deliciously inspiring way that drives social media users to the produce aisle. When it comes to showcasing food, there is no better way to entice your audience than by posting a delectable recipe shot featuring your fresh products. This is an element of your brand’s visual identity online that directly engages with the produce shopper. So how do brands go about inspiring shoppers to purchase produce through capturing your products in action?
Furthermore, how can you avoid the typical point-and-click approach and start displaying your product in a true #foodstagram-worthy manner? The strategy behind a recipe shot is comprised of these four key tactics:
Four Tips for Snapping the Perfect Recipe Shot
Plating is the aesthetic arrangement of the food. After all, when it comes to social, how you stage your scene and arrange the plate is nearly as important as what goes on it. The Department of Psychology at Montclair State University released a study that found when food was presented in an arranged manner, customers regarded it as higher quality. The study also pointed out that consumers are likely to pay more for products that are presented neatly. Remember: a customer with no prior knowledge of your brand or product may encounter an image of your recipe and choose to purchase the products solely based on how mouthwatering the image looked.
It is important to understand your desired aesthetic when plating. Products you want to look more natural—like a salad—should still be arranged, but have a slightly more “in the moment” feel. Recipes that tend to be more messy, like smoothies or certain desserts, should be arranged neatly to show an appealing contrast. Be sure to pick surfaces carefully: a more colorful recipe will tend to pop more on a white plate or dark surface whereas a more neutral-hued dish will be heightened by a wooden surface or background.
Remember, creating a delicious-looking plate means nothing if it isn’t lit properly! Lighting in food photography is key for emphasizing textures and color. Once again, picking the proper lighting for your shot involves thinking about what aspect you really want to showcase, such as the flaky delicate crust of a cherry pie or the sharp lines of a kale salad. Quick tip: lighting a shot from the side is a great way to play with shadows and bring out highlights of certain textures. This helps especially when you are shooting recipes with a lot of different elements, like sandwiches or smoothie bowls. Pick your angles of light specifically for each image, and know that lighting that worked for one shot may not work for another, even for recipes that seem fairly similar at first. Additionally, certain angles can cause harsh shadows that make the shot appear unappetizing. When this happens, adjust your lighting or angle to recapture the beauty of the shot.
Angles are a great way to bring out different textures and shots, and don’t be afraid to try new and creative approaches. A side angle won’t always work for every dish, but straight-on and top-down photos are typically great angles to help display your recipe. When possible, avoid straight, downward-facing shots. This is an angle many people automatically flock to when taking photos, but it has the tendency to appear bland. Once again: think about what you want to emphasize in the shot. What angle will help you highlight the star of your photo?
Though styling sounds similar to plating, styling refers to everything that happens off the plate. Before you start arranging, think about the scene you are trying to portray. Even though they are technically staged, chances are you do not want your photos to appear fake! This involves painting a full picture with the foreground and the background. Align this with how you pick out your surfaces. For example, if you know you are trying to portray a kitchen scene, think of how to involve cooking utensils, ingredients, and other household items in order to help make the scene feel genuine and believable. Take advantage of all available ingredients, and don’t be afraid to experiment! For instance, when looking to showcase a baked pastry, we like to sprinkle sugar or flour in the foreground—among other ingredients—to eloquently surround your dish.
Tip: Having a style guide for your brand photography aids greatly in deciding how to display your products.
Editing Your Recipe Photos
So you have taken an amazing shot—now what? Editing your recipe image well can create the cherry-on-top effect that we marketers (and our audiences on social!) love. A word to the wise: light touch-ups are typically all you need; over-editing can compromise the image and defeat the purpose of trying to appear genuine and relatable. Sharpness, white-balance, brightness, contrast, and saturation are the main points to adjust and should be based on your brand’s visual identity. If your brand favors warmer-looking images, adjust the white-balance in order to add a bit more warmth to the white parts of the scene (such as plates or napkins).
Once your photo is “picture-perfect,” all you have left to do is pair it with relevant and enticing copy that urges the shopper to like and engage with the image. After that simply post it for your social audience to enjoy and share!
Want to learn more about photography and visual marketing? Follow us on Twitter at @TheCoreBlog, read more about sharpening your Instagram photography skills, and be sure to plan for the future of food photography!