I’m notorious among my friends for always taking incredible food photos with an iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I love the flattery, but I always try to explain that taking the same quality photos that I do can be achieved just by following a few simple steps.

Looking to spice up your Instagram, impress your friends, or just learn to take better food pictures with an iPhone? Follow these five steps outlined below and you’ll be sure to get at least one great shot.

Step 1. Lighting

The first step to a great photo is making sure you have good lighting. For this, natural light is key. Unfortunately, natural lighting is not always possible, so in these cases you may be able to use flash to capture the shot. However, in almost all cases, natural lighting is the best.

Jolie Rosen

When shooting at a restaurant, it’s best to sit at a table that is near a window; or if the weather is nice and outside seating is available not in direct sunlight, outdoors is the way to go.

Step 2. Styling

Styling your photo is the next step necessary to get that perfect shot. This step may seem intimidating at first, but it is actually simple and straightforward. There are just a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Always have a clean plate

2. Always garnish your food

3. Always be intentional when using negative space.

Step 3. Composition

Ever heard of the rule of thirds? This is a basic step for any photo and should be applied to your food photography too. Use the grid feature when taking photos as a guide.

Jolie Rosen

Step 4. Take the photo

Here comes the part you’ve been waiting for, actually taking the photo. Now, this step can get tricky if you don't go about it the right way, so you need to be very careful.

The best food pictures can be taken with the iPhone 8 and above using portrait mode. Don’t feel too discouraged if you don’t have portrait mode, you can still take great photos without it following all the other steps, but portrait mode helps to enhance the photo and give it a professional look and feel without a professional camera. 

Jolie Rosen
Jolie Rosen

If you don’t know how to use portrait mode on your phone, just start practicing. Position your phone in the composition you think looks best and adjust until the yellow light at the bottom of the screen lights up. This is your go ahead to shoot. It’s best to take multiple picutures, alternating between horizontal and vertical, while also adjusting the angle of the picture and the lighting.

Jolie Rosen

For overhead shots, it’s best to not use portrait mode. There are rare occasions that portrait mode may work for overhead shots, but typically it’s best to stick with your regular camera for this. In this case, if you don’t have portrait mode on your phone, these are the best photos for you. 

Jolie Rosen

Step 5. Editing

Once you have gone through your photos and narrowed them down to the best, the process is not over. The final step is editing.

Editing is probably my favorite part of the entire food photography process. I love playing with different filters and adjusting brightness and colors. However, sometimes editing can be difficult. To make it a little easier, the iPhone has so many applications available to download. My top three essential editing apps include:


Snapseed is the most complicated of the three apps, but if I need to make a particular section of my photo white, black, or change the saturation, Snapseed is my go-to automatically.


Polarr is the best application I have for adjusting colors in my photos. Many times I like to change the saturation of specific colors in my photos to stand out or blend in. In addition, I like to adjust the lighting of the photo with Polarr.


VSCO is always my last and final application used before posting my food photos. Because I edit so often, I have VSCO+ which allows me to have a few more editing features, but even without this, VSCO is incredible. I love to play around with different filters and see how they change my picture, but almost always I revert back to C3; it never lets me down.

Jolie Rosen
Jolie Rosen

Your Turn

Now that I have taken you through the 5 steps to get the perfect food photos with an iPhone, it’s your turn to give it a try! Make sure to tag @spoon_iu when you post your photo on Instagram so we can see your hard work in action. You got this!