Culinary Students Are Learning to Snap Droolworthy Instagram Pics (And So Can You)

Follow these social-media food photo tips to post a food pic worthy of "likes."

How integral is Instragram to the food scene these days? Important enough for culinary schools to start making food styling and photography — particularly tailored to the app — part of their regular curriculum.

The Culinary Institute of America, that food-education mecca, will offer its students two new courses — one focusing on food photography; the other on styling food for the camera — to help them take drool-worthy photos of the foods they prepare, the New York Times recently reported. Students will learn camera and lighting techniques, photo composition and editing, and cooking techniques tailored for the camera — such as deliberately undercooking foods like chicken and fish “to keep the skin from looking tired” or burning vegetables “to better convey texture,” according to the Times.

Kersti Bowser, a food stylist who is helping to develop the courses, told the paper she was hoping to help students evoke the “integrity” of their dishes rather than going for “shock value,” as so much social media food porn does.

The CIA is not the only culinary school to offer such courses, the Times points out, citing similar classes offered at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC as well as the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Students at the latter have even coined a phrase for snapping a photo of their food, a dean at the school tells the Times: “taking a plate-y.”

And while we’re on the subject, here are a few photo tips worth following the next time you’re taking a “plate-y” (love it!) in a restaurant to post on Instagram:

1. Get the light right

During the daytime, get a seat by the window to make the most of the natural light. If it’s nighttime and you’re dealing with dimness, you can use the flashlight app on a friend’s phone to augment the available light, diffusing it with your napkin, if need be.

2. Find a flattering angle

Taking a photo from directly above your food is generally a good bet – though for certain foods (milkshakes, cones) a side angle may be more suitable. Play around until you get a look you like. 

3. Go in for the close-up

Comfort foods like ice cream and burgers look yummy up close. (OK, they look yummy from far away, too – but especially from up close.) Fruits and veggies do, too.

4. Capture the color

Go for contrast, placing foods of different hues next to each other on the table or your plate.

5. Add texture with props

A pair of chopsticks at a jaunty angle or a fork placed just so – a prop can make your photo pop.

And the most-important tip of all? Don’t take so long about it that your food gets cold (or your ice cream melts away). Even the most photogenic restaurant meals — perhaps especially those — are meant to be enjoyed.

Photo: iStock

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