Business, Social Media

iPhone Photography: Editing Tips for Food Photos

iPhone Photography: Editing Tips for Food Photos

People are shocked when they hear that most of my food photographs on @eatwellwithsari were captured with my iPhone! Besides the professional photoshoots (for lifestyle content) and a few exceptions, all my content developed for my blog, Instagram and Pinterest were taken with the tap of a screen on my iPhone. The camera technology on smartphones has come a LONG way! The quality of the images, pixels, and clarity is very good! No blurry cell phone pictures here. I have the iPhone XS Max – the newest, largest and most up to date apple product you can have. I have that for a reason – the quality of the camera! As soon as the phone came out, I ordered it. It works really well for me and the style of photos that I take. Plus, the res is very high and suitable for my blog and social media.

Ok, so without giving all ALL my secrets, I am going to share with you some tips for editing your photos, specifically when it comes to food. These are my “amateur” tips – aka things I have learned along the way. I am not a professional photographer by training, but I do know how to take some great food photos! This is all from my own experimentation and what I have learned over time. Before I get into the nitty-gritty — here are a few rules of thumb:

  1. Create a consistent look for your Social / Blog – decide what the few ways you are going to style /edit your photos and stick with them! It can take time to finesse this look, but it is worth it. You want someone to see a picture of yours and KNOW that it is yours. Having a distinct style makes you stand out. This doesn’t happen overnight. You can play around with a few things, – editing modes, presets, filters, angles, colors, etc to find this. For me, this has always been a bright, colorful overhead shot of my food with a white background. I like to show texture/bites and a lot of colors. Sometimes, I throw in a lifestyle food shot with plants in the background for a stack of pancakes or cookies – but not as often.
  2. Natural Light only – I cannot stress this enough. Natural light, especially for food, is the most ideal way to shoot your content. You want a bright day, not too sunny, with clouds to eliminate the harshness/shadow. I like those overcast, yet bright days for food photos. If I know it is going to be a cloudy-ish day, I try to shoot a ton of content. On the sunny days, the best time to shoot is after high noon so there is no direct light coming in through the window (my windows face east). At this time of year (late spring / long days), about 1-5pm is best. It changes all the time. In the winter, that time is earlier and shorter.

Ok, let’s get into some specifics aka the APPS that I use to edit my photos. I never use the Instagram in-app editing tool, I don’t find it does very much for my photos. Below is a list of apps I know and love

  1. VSCO – I use this as the first step. There are a TON of great filters that you can play with on here. It is a great way to establish a ‘look’ or ‘mood’ for your images. You want them all the look consistent (as I mentioned above). I pay for access to more of the editing options/filters and I think it is worth it. I specifically like the “S” and “C” edits.
  2. ADOBE LIGHTROOM – This is where most of the heavy lifting comes. At least for me. I use this one to adjust color, white balance, vibrancy, saturation, shadows, exposure, and clarity. A good place to start would be to upload your photo (after VSCO if you are choosing that step) and press “Auto” in Lightroom. From there, you can play around with it. I do not always use “auto”, but I find for people just getting familiar with the app it is really helpful to see what each element does. Take some time to play around with the app.
  3. FACETUNE – I do not use this to edit selfies actually – I use it to whiten the background of my photos with the teeth whitening feature. Helps so much when I am trying to create that crisp white background! Sometimes if there is a little too much sun (not ideal), I can use this feature to eliminate the blue hues. Sometimes after I whiten in FaceTune, I take it back into Lightroom and do a few adjustments depending on how it looks.
  4. SNAPSEED – I do not use this as often, but here and there I will. I know others really love this one.

A few other tips:

  • Be careful how you use portrait mode on the iPhone. Sometimes the portrait mode for food is hard to look clean. Certain things become blurred and the look overall is off. If you want that depth effect, just go close up to the object and the background should blur automatically.
  • Use planning apps like Planoly or Plann to layout your feed and make sure it looks cohesive – if that is what you are going for. I like to make sure my food photos look good together and mix well with the lifestyle ones. This is also where I keep my “ready to go content” once it is fully edited. You can also write draft captions in there.
  • When editing lifestyle pictures, a lot of people use presets through Lightroom. I use those here and there when it fits – mostly with beach pics or those in nature. Otherwise, I use regular Lightroom to adjust my photos as I like them. You can purchase people’s presets – the options are endless – and then copy them into Lightroom and save them as a preset to use for your own photos. I purchased a few from “The preset villa” on Etsy that I play around with occasionally.

I hope these tips helped you! I included some before / after examples below. If you have any further questions, feel free to comment or email me! If you are looking for social media starter tips – check out my blog post on that topic.

xo, Sari

some examples..



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