Five Tips to Spice Up Your Insta Food Pics

Art Director, Ped Millichamp, who has created flawless food shots for Sainsbury’s Magazine, Men’s Fitness and now heads up creative at bar and restaurant, The Willow, reveals his top 5 tips on how to create tantalizing food imagery that will attract crowds to your blog.

Mixed Bean, Chickpea & Courgette Falafel Burger — Credit: Naomie Samarou

We have to admit that we are all slightly obsessed with taking snapshots of our meals, whether it’s home cooked or we’re out at a dashing restaurant, we tend to all feel this sudden urge to go on a photography-craze with our mobile phones before we even reach out for our knife and fork.

It’s almost like a ritual or a new custom that has revolutionised our dining experience forever. There’s no need to feel awkward anymore because one in five Brits, approximately 9 million people, now post pictures of food across their social media.

According to Vuelio’s 2016 UK Bloggers Survey, food blogs are amongst one of the most dominant categories of the genre. If you haven’t heard about Ella Woodward — where have you been? Her super popular food blog ‘Deliciously Ella’ has accumulated over 100 million hits in just three years. Also, some of the nations favourite blogs, such as the ‘London Eater’ has generated around 2 million hits and ‘Eat like A Girl’ receives on average 75,000 visitors a month.

All three of these bloggers have one thing in common that has contributed significantly to their success which is the ability to produce appealing, illustrative food shots that have made people’s stomachs growl and their mouths drool. We live in a visual culture, where everybody ‘eats with their eyes’, meaning it’s essential to create compelling food images that will resonate with your target audience to increase social engagement and drive traffic to your blog. On Facebook, photos are the most engaging form of content with an interaction rate of 87% and by adding a photo URL to a tweet, it can increase retweets by a striking 35%.

We visited Ped Millichamp at health bar and restaurant, The Willow and we joined his hands-on workshop on how to spice up our food shots. Check out his top five most practical tips and tricks on how to capture high-quality food photography that will help you enhance your blog.


Rainbow Salad — Credit: Naomie Samarou

Pictured here is The Willow’s crunchy rainbow salad full of ‘Nature’s colour palette’, which perfectly demonstrates how natural sunlight has made the mixture of colours in the dish appear brighter and vibrant.

“Colour brings life to your shot, whether it’s from the food or the props. No one wants to see a boring brown pile of food, right? Never use a flash, natural light is the way to go with food,” says Ped.

Good lighting is a crucial aspect of good food photography and preferably the best light is natural daylight. A spot in the shade on a sunny day or shooting near a window will create some of the most beautiful effortless shots, in our opinion. But if you decide to shoot without natural light avoid using natural ambient light, because it can be temperamental and difficult to control. Instead, use daylight bulbs, it will help you capture those delicate natural shadows and highlights on food surfaces which make the food look ‘real’ and palatable.


Roasted Candy Beetroot & Walnut Salad — Credit: Naomie Samarou

In this shot, we have another of the Willow’s dishes the ‘Roasted Candy Beetroot and Walnut Salad’. We added the raw ingredients on the side to add a fantastic splash of colour and to give the shot a bit of personality. Also, it will help tell the viewer what ingredients are actually in the food itself.

To get the best possible shot, it’s always beneficial to experiment with different food props such as plates, utensils, bowls etc. depending on what fits your style.

“What will the plate, condiments or the surface look like? A rustic blue-wash paint chopping board? A masculine stainless steel table?” Ped says, that these are the type of questions you should ask yourself when thinking about props because this will help paint the picture for you.

Ped also suggests you should, “Grow your ‘props’ archive! Invest in some natural lighting umbrellas and reflectors too, you can pick some basic ones up on Amazon and they’ll enrich the quality of your pictures.”


Mixed Bean, Chickpea & Courgette Falafel Burger — Credit: Naomie Samarou

Here we have the ‘Mixed Bean, Chickpea & Courgette Falafel Burger’, which is a meat free and bread free twist on a typical pub burger. The burger was shot at a 45-degree angle to showcase all of the layers inside of the burger.

“In order to show off a falafel burger, make sure it’s shot from a side angle, it’s important to find the best angle and one that is appropriate to what you are shooting. There is no point shooting from above, as you won’t see the beauty of the burger! Side angles allow for more depth of field, so be cautious with your background.” says Ped.

SEE ALSO: Welcome to Growhampton

If you are unsure about what angle would look better on a certain type of food — don’t be afraid to get close, move around, and try out multiple angles as this will help you figure it out. Normally flat foods look better when shot from above and drinks preferably from a 45-degree angle.


Choco Mint Rooibos Tea — Credit: Naomie Samarou

This picture includes one of The Willow’s naturally rich, high-quality whole leaf teas. Once you learn the basics, the styling part is where you will have the most fun! We were able to take creative risks and add our own special touches to this shot.

“Whether you’re shooting for a magazine, social media or for fun, it’s always important to ensure you decide on a ‘look’ for your photos — it’ll ensure they look part of a family of images. This style of photography will support your brand/mag,” says Ped.

He also, added, HOWEVER, never be afraid to mix it up a little! Contradictory? No, strive to evolve and experiment and stand out from the crowd — always aim to give that creative twist to whatever you do in life.”


Pistachio Chocolate Brownies, Carrot & Chocolate Cake — Credit: Naomie Samarou

Here is an assemblage of The Willow’s gluten-free desserts, which includes pistachio chocolate brownies, carrot cake and a chocolate cake.

This is Ped’s most important tip.

He said, “If you’re ever unsure inside, do not be afraid to start over if your instincts are telling you to do so. Some people may find it annoying or won’t work with you again, but they’ll thank you once you achieve a better shot than they anticipated! Remember, once it’s posted or printed, there is no going back…ever!”


We know a lot of you guys, are wondering if you need a fancy camera to take amazing food pics or can you just simply use your mobile phones. Well, the answer is ‘yes’; nowadays smartphones have built-in cameras that produce high-quality photos, which is a great tool to use when you’re first starting out in food photography. However, in the long-term, it will also benefit you to invest in a decent DSLR camera, as they tend to have more versatility and functions.

Ped says: “Learn how to use it. Learn what all the buttons are for! Take a course, speak to someone who knows how to USE THEM!”


Here are Ped’s, last words of advice to anyone that is interested in entering the field of food photography. “Analyse what others are doing — there are many prolific food photographers out there (Martin Poole, Lauren McLean…), check out their websites, read food mags (Sainsbury’s mag and BBC Good Food have fabulous food shoots) … develop a hungry appetite for all things food!”

“Have fun. Don’t conform. Don’t play the ‘safety card’. Take a moddish approach to your photos. Ensure every shot oozes your passion, personality and enthusiasm”.

SEE ALSO: The Hive to launch their first cookbook for students


Pippa Payne, who lives in Devon with her husband and two beautiful little girls, joined the ‘Slimming World’ in early 2015 and began posting pictures of home-cooked meals with a healthier twist on her Facebook page, as a way of tracking her weight loss.
In just a few short months, her social media page blew up! She started receiving over a 1,000 followers a day and on Easter weekend she accumulated an impressive 5,000 followers, which led her to create ‘The Slimming Foodie’, a food blog on a mission to help those on the same weight-loss journey as her by simply sharing recipes and information on how to adapt unhealthy meals to be healthier.
In just over one year, Pippa went on to win the ‘Best Food Blog’ title at the Mum and Dad (MAD) blog awards 2016 and her blog receives around 70,000 unique visitors a month.
When we spoke to Pippa, she told us that mastering the art of food photography played a fundamental part in her success. She also, noticed how great shots can make a huge difference in the number of shares, comments and likes she receives.
“On Facebook and Instagram I tend to get more likes and enquiries when my images appear more ‘real’, as this makes my blog posts far more appealing and attainable to my audience”, says Pippa. “The use of natural light and angles, are tips to always keep in mind”, she added.
Here are Pippa’s, 3 most popular posts that include some fantastic food photography for you to have a look at:
1. Chicken Curry
2. Healthy Extras on Pizza
3. Greggs Style Steak Bake
See more…
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