You can learn more about food photography in my other posts on the subject. Learn:
- How to improve the food photos you take on your phone
- How to edit those phone food photos in my favourite free app VSCO
- How you can even take better food photos in winter (when there’s barely any light)
- Which food photography books are worth the investment
- How to improve productivity by batch-shooting your food photography
- How to edit your food photos in Pixlr
- Why good food photography is essential for food businesses How to start building up your food photography kitWhich VSCO filters are best for food photography
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Use free apps like VSCO for food photography that is even more beautiful
So, recently I posted my guide to taking more beautiful food photos on your phone, which included a bunch of simple tips that will make your phone-based food photography way more beautiful. Today though, I’m sharing some of my top tips for using free photo editing app VSCO for food pictures that will make your Instagram followers drool
This post isn’t going to tell you how to TAKE pretty pictures on your phone – you’ll need to check out my phone food photography guide for the full deets on that. This is working under the assumption that you’re taking decent pictures of some pretty food, and you just want to up your food photography game with a little help from VSCO (just FYI, I have literally no affiliation to VSCO, I just think that it is an AWESOME free tool for anyone into photography).
How to Use VSCO for Food Photography
Just a note: this post was first published in 2016, so the look of the VSCO app has changes slightly – the basic functionality & the edits you’ll make have largely remained the same though.
1. Download the VSCO App
Go to VSCO.co to access the VSCO app. The app is available on the App Store for iOS
2. Take a picture…
Obvious, right? In my previous post, I mentioned two points that at particularly important here you should a) take photos directly in your phone’s camera app (this gives you more flexibility later) and b) set your phone’s camera to capture a square (1:1 ratio) image, instead of having to crop later (on a Samsung, open the camera app, then use the settings gear, to select ‘picture size’ and 1:1)
3. … And open it in VSCO
Now you can take your picture. Then press the ‘share via’ icon and scroll down to select VSCO. Your image should now be open in VSCO. Tap the image to select it, then click the slider icon at the bottom of the screen to begin editing.
4. Apply any filters
Here you can choose a
5. Manually adjust the image
Once you’ve made a decision about filters (and when you first start using VSCO for food photography editing, I know how addictive it can be to just scroll through the filters trying them all out), slide upwards on the arrow at the bottom of the screen and select the slider icon again to access all the adjustment options. Being honest, the best way to get a feel for them is probably to spend a few minutes trying them all. I go into a bit of detail below about the key ones I use:
For each of the settings below, select the relevant icon, and adjust the level by moving the slider at the bottom of the screen right or left. When you’ve got that particular setting adjusted to the right level, click on the circle in the bottom right of your screen to save, or the x in the bottom left to return to the image before you made that adjustment. The key settings that I adjust go in pairs, as follows
Crop & straighten
Though they are different things, I’ve grouped crop and straighten together because the adjustments they make to the image are fundamentally different to the other ways I use VSCO for food photography image editing, in that they physically change the composition of the image, rather than adjusting the makeup of it (to use a flimsy simile, cropping and straightening are like going on a diet and losing weight to make yourself look different and the rest of the edits I’m using are like changing your clothes to make yourself look different. Kind of. I did say it was flimsy).
As mentioned in point 1, take all your images in 1:1 ratio and you shouldn’t need to crop unless a sneaky finger or shoe is just visible in one corner, in which case crop as little as possible (sticking with the 1:1 ratio, of course). Similarly, try to line your images up to the ideal angle before you come to editing, but if your image has very clear straight vertical or horizontal lines, then a little straightening may be called for.
Exposure & contrast
I’m lumping these together because, 9 times out of ten, they should be used in exactly the same way: Adjust the exposure up to +1 or +2 (occasionally +3 or +4 if the image is very dark, but any more than that and it will just look overexposed), then save, and adjust the contrast by the same amount or sometimes +1 less (so if the exposure is adjusted to +2, the contrast will be adjusted to +1 or +2)
Saturation & temperature
Again, these are bunched together because they serve a similar purpose and I tend to use them in tandem: Increase the saturation to +1 or +2 to make all the colours in the image a bit more bright and vibrant, then adjust the temperature to anywhere between -1 and +2 to balance out the artificial look of an over-saturated image.
The sharpen function is in a class all of its
6. Save the image & upload to Instagram
Once you are happy with your Foodie Instagram Picture, scroll up on the arrow at the bottom of your screen and select the circle on the bottom left of the screen to save the image
In the home screen, tap the image to select it, the tap the three-dot ‘more’ symbol in the bottom right of your screen
That is the way I use VSCO for food pictures, but I massively encourage you to have a play with all the adjustment options and find a combination that suits you and your style. Eventually you’ll get into a routine, and know what adjustments an image is likely to need, almost before you’ve even taken the picture.