This guide is part of a series called "Being Your Best #Foodbeast" on Instagram. If you're gonna document your food, you might as well do it well. These guides are here to help. Indulge.
So you order a good looking burrito, you whip out your phone or DSLR and you have no idea what to do next. You could just eat, but chances are you're here because you are a food documentarian of some sort.
Full disclaimer, the following tips and tricks work for me, my audience and the some of Instagram's most notable food pornographers. Pick and choose which of the following practices work for your Instagram. Those of you with your own personal style and aesthetic, I applaud you -- you're already ahead of the game.
1. SHOW THE INSIDE
Sounds obvious, but not a day goes by where I don't get tagged in a photo, begging for a regram, only to land on a picture of a tortilla tightly wrapped around a mystery filling. What's inside your burrito?! I don't care what your caption says, I'm on Instagram and I deserve to know!
The psyche of the average food porn consumer isn't predicated by the outside of the burrito, it's the inside that matters. Unless you've ordered your burrito wet, drenched in cheese and beautifully plated in a tin circle with rice and beans, please split it open and show your audience what's inside.
Also, pick it up with your hands, it won't bite.
2. Have a well organized, clear cross section
Don't get lazy after cutting a burrito in half.
Once a burrito is halved, data shows that having clear, distinct ingredients filling the burrito is crucial. When you halve a burrito with a knife, you've likely sliced right through pieces of rice, beans, french fries and in some cases, ice cream (cotton candy burrito anyone?). The way the human eye reads a news feed, they need to see things as clear and whole as possible. Rice and beans cut in half don't register as well on the eyes.
Once you've sliced your burrito in half, make sure you do a bit of finagling with your ingredients to bring some whole beans, rice and pieces of meat to the top. In the example above, you'll see that I've buried the shrimp pieces I accidentally cut, and brought to the top unharmed shrimp. Same with the fries. I left some cut, then pulled whole ones to the foreground. There is no question to the subconscious this burrito is stuffed with whole french fries.
3. Grab the ass, and make sure people see it
The only asses you should be grabbing are of consenting adult friends, and halved burritos (consent optional).
Once you split a burrito, you have two asses and you're gonna need some sizable hands to cup both in one frame. Don't trip, if you have small hands, like our social media manager That's That Fuego -- it actually makes the food look bigger, which is never a bad thing.
What many food Instagrammers tend to miss when documenting burritos is cylindrical depth. Plates can vary in size and it is extremely difficult to capture the depth of a burrito when she's lying flat.
By grabbing the burrito from the bottom and giving it a slight tilt towards the camera, a lot of nuanced mind trickery is at work.
Your audience is intrinsically expecting a tortilla to complete its own brain loop that makes them crave a burrito. If they don't see the tortilla clearly, their mind might not register it as a burrito. Don't assume people know a tortilla is in frame. Sounds extra, but remember that your audience isn't in the room with you, they didn't taste the burrito and they didn't feel the tortilla.
4. Natural light, avoiding canopies & overhangs
Go outside. The sun is a beautiful tool and natural lighting is the easiest way to immediately take your Instagram food photos to the next level.
Avoid direct sunlight, and get away from walls that create weird colors when they reflect the sun.
Too often your camera will pick up on the reds illuminating off a nearby brick wall, or an orange tint on your food because you're sitting at a table with a red umbrella above. Call me extra, but I've once taken my burrito into a nearby alleyway because the lighting was just perfect and nothing was skewing the light. Just try and find the side of the building where the sun is casting the softest shadow.
Also, if you're eating a burrito at night -- just enjoy it and keep your phone in your pocket. Your photo is gonna look like shit no matter what you do.
5. Keep the background clear of distractions
When shooting with the burrito held directly in front of you, make sure the background composition is free of clutter.
The more objects in the background, the higher the probably your audience will lose focus on the burrito.
Make sure the color of your background doesn't blend in with your model, and avoid busy patterns or tiles that can confuse someone's line of sight.
Your background doesn't have to be empty, a little texture is always nice and human -- but anything that competes with the model, in this case your sexy burrito, will hurt your chances of food porn success.
6. Have fun, eat well and get out there!
If y'all enjoyed this guide, feel free to follow me on Instagram. I eat a ton of burritos on my @BookOfElie account, as well as make sure things are looking sexy when y'all submit your goods to the main @Foodbeast account. Feel free to Tweet @BookOfElie to tell me what guide you want next, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org once you're Insta famous with Chipotle brand deals.