I’m an Instagram junkie. If I’m being honest, I love it more than blogging. It’s quick—like a text message rather than an email. I can text with the best of them. But email? I’m not even going to tell you how many unread messages I have. It’s an embarrassing 4 digit number. Forget I ever mentioned that. Over the past couple months, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I take and edit my photos for Instagram. I’m honored you’d even want to know. It’s nothing fancy. Promise. I’ve compiled the questions and shared all the juicy details. As always, no secrets allowed here.
What kind of camera are you using?
I’m a purist through and through. I only use my iPhone for Instagram. Since I joined, I’ve been using an iPhone 4. I think it’s high time for an update this summer.
Do you use an app to edit pics?
I edit all images using Afterlight. Does that cancel out my purist ways? Either way, I love Afterlight. It takes my images from drab to fab. Excuse the cheese but look at the original. I take my pictures in the camera app. I don’t care for Afterlight‘s camera. Side note: you know the tap on the screen trick right? Tap where ever you want to focus. It’ll also adjust your white balance too.
If you use a filter, do you use the same filter on everything?
I do, I do. Russ is my absolute favorite. Once I started using Afterlight, I streamlined my editing process. In other words, I do pretty much the same thing to every picture (adjust brightness, contrast, exposure, temperature, fade, and sharpen). I like to keep things simple. You’d never tell from my compositions. (That’s a joke.) In other news, I’ve recently started shooting and editing my blog pics similar to my Instagram pics. If I can get my beep together, I’ll share the Photoshop action soon.
What is your behind the scenes set-up? Tell me about lighting. And what is the white background?
I shoot in the same corner of my house on my white Ikea desk in front of a window. I usually shoot overhead. The light pours in from the left. I adjust the blinds behind to add a little back light. If it’s super overcast, I pull up both sets of blinds. Sometimes I use a white board to bounce light and fill shadows, but lately I’ve been welcoming the shadows. Click to see more pictures of my current workspace and my old workspace.
Do you take most of your photos in the daylight?
I’d say 99%. I started taking pictures in natural light. It’s really all I know.
Do you come up with a concept of the photo beforehand, or do you experiment with creating the photo as you’re baking?
I’m embarrassed to admit—I think about Instagram, and therefore food, a lot. It’s always running in the background of my head. I’m an overshare-er especially when it comes to what I’m eat or baking. For better or worse, Instagram is a natural overflow of what I’m already doing. However, I don’t spend as much time as I should composing my photos. Actually, composition has always been my achilles heel. In high school, I painted. In college, I was a graphic designer (still am). In real life, I’m a blogger/fauxtographer. Composition is hard for me. However, in each of those endeavors, I had a tendency to over simplify. I fought it for many (many) years. Now I’m embracing it. White space and geometric compositions come natural to me. While I love to drool over highly stylized photos with pretty props, it’s not my personal strength. If you’re looking for advice on developing your style—do what feels most comfortable to you. Take a lot of pictures. Then take a step back. Look for similarities among the pictures and mark your favorites. Keep what’s working. Toss what’s not. Then create a breadth of work in your style.
Do you add anything to the food to make it look glossy or gooey?
If only I was that professional. There’s a good reason I call myself the faux. Although, I am mindful of how I present my food, whether it’s for a picture or placed straight on the dinner table. If I’m preparing a bowl, I mess with it more than usual. See this pic for reference.
I want to know how the heck you’re cooking and snapping pics with a new baby?
You want the real answer? I’m juggling too much right now. I stay at home with the babe, co-run a business, and a blog plus all the normal life things. It’s been a hard adjustment for me. However, it’s really important for me to maintain my little creative space as a food blogger, and therefore an Instagrammer. Cooking is therapeutic for me. And no matter how busy we are, we still have to eat. It somehow works. Kev is also very involved dad. He helps so so much. Hal is 6 months now. She takes long, consistent naps. It’s a dream come true. I save all fussy, semi-longwinded recipes for the weekend and keep things short and sweet during the week. We’re finding our rhythm, slowly but surely. In other news, Hallie hates food. She still prefers a liquid diet.
Who inspires you? You didn’t ask but I want to tell.
Some of my favorite Grammers are: Sarah Kieffer, Amanda Jones, Diala Canelo, Billy Green, Whitney Reeder, Nikole Herriott, Tara O’Brady, Molly Yeh, Vanessa Rees, Angela Hardison, Kamran Siddiqi, Nicole Dula, Breanna, Melanie Blodgett, Ashlae W, Kelsey Brown, Yossy Arefi.
PS—If there’s ever anything you want to know, just ask. Leave a question in the comments. If there’s enough, I’ll do another post. All images in this post were taken with my iPhone and edited with Afterlight. Credit for the first image goes to my main man, Kev, with a little art direction by me. I told you he’s a saint.