How to take good Instagram photos

Top tips on how to get the best Instaframes, as advised by veteran food photographer Dave Hagerman and mega-Instagrammers Trisha Toh and Lim Sher Reen

Lim Sher Reen instagram
Photo: Lim Sher Reen (@sherreenl)

Top down or eye level?

'Top down. For the iPhone, it has some limitations in terms of light capabilities, depth of field and lens distortion so I shoot all these from the top down. It’s also more graphic so I can use the rim of a plate or a bowl to focus attention on the food.' – @davehagerman

Top down


A photo posted by David Hagerman (@davehagerman) on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:54pm PDT

Eye level


Morning shopping. #georgetown #travel #penang

A photo posted by David Hagerman (@davehagerman) on Aug 10, 2014 at 6:41pm PDT


Human element or without?

‘My photos have a lot of human element. Not only in showing hands; things like napkins, keys, newspaper, all of that highlight human elements. People can resonate with it, and it’s more raw and natural.’ – @trishates, food stylist

With human element


A photo posted by Trisha T. (@trishates) on Oct 10, 2014 at 12:37am PDT


Without human element


A photo posted by Trisha T. (@trishates) on Oct 24, 2015 at 7:09pm PDT


Negative space or cluttered?

‘Depending on the mood I’m in. Cluttered, but with sufficient space.’ – @sherreenl

Negative space


A photo posted by Sher Reen L. (@sherreenl) on Feb 27, 2015 at 9:03pm PST




A photo posted by Sher Reen L. (@sherreenl) on Aug 30, 2014 at 7:33pm PDT


Foodstagramming tips

1. @trishates: 'Don’t use generic hashtags as your airtime will be limited. Try participative hashtags. My favourites are #wwllt (what work looks like today) or #fromwhereistand.'

2. @davehagerman: 'For me, I work fast. If the shot doesn’t come together quickly, it will likely not get posted. Tuck in when the food is still hot.'

3. @sherreenl: 'Try to sit by a window for more natural light, and go earlier in the morning or later in the evening when sunlight is at an angle.'

Read more about the Instagram trend

Instagram - Camera eats first
Photo: Trisha Toh, Lim Sher Reen and Dave Hagerman

Camera eats first: Is Instagram changing the way we eat?

For all its popularity (400 million active users at time of print), Instagram has a bad rep among food purists. We hear of acclaimed restaurants banning phone photography, citing bad manners, infringement of intellectual property and disturbance of other diners’ experience. No surprises there.