Beautiful tablescapes and food photography are all the rage on Instagram and other social media nowadays, but there’s more to these beautifully-arranged images – and their creators – than meets the eye.

Meet Chicago-based photographer Christina Slaton, one of the photographers behind the mouthwatering images you scroll through on your feeds.

Who is she?

Slaton, who has her own food and lifestyle photography brand, used to work for the Infatuation, a website that posts restaurant reviews and guides to help you figure out where to eat in cities all over the world, including Chicago. Most of the tempting photos posted on the Infatuation’s Chicago Instagram page and included in their blogs have been taken by Slaton.

However, she recently decided to make a career change. She accepted a job as a photographer for Lettuce Entertain You, a company that owns many successful restaurants around Chicago, including hotspots like Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, Summer House Santa Monica and RPM Italian.

“I decided to just grow with one brand and make that one brand the brand.” she said. “I went from freelance to corporate just now. It’s very interesting.”

But no matter what kind of environment she is working in, Slaton has always loved photography.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve always considered myself as a photographer,” she said. “I haven’t always been great at it, of course.”

It takes practice, and Slaton has had a lot of it – she says she has always taken photos of her food. Her favorite kind of food to photograph is “anything real,” although she acknowledged that it’s not always possible to take photos of un-doctored food, fresh out of the oven. Burgers, pizza, and cheesy, greasy junk food may do well on social media, but Slaton thinks all food is beautiful.

How does she take such amazing photos?

Slaton has a few steps she takes in order to craft the most delectable food-stagrams that elevate her grid. First of all, she has the restaurants turn off the lights and open the windows if possible. If you don’t have that kind of power, just try to get as much natural light as you can – stay away from those fluorescent bulbs.

Her preferred style is to photograph toward windows so “the light from the window [is glowing] at the back of the food, which preserves the details of the food in front of you.”

One restaurant trend Slaton is loving right now is vegetable-based restaurants like Bad Hunter, where the meat is “secondary." You don’t see that very often in a deep-dish, hot-dog, steakhouse-loving city like Chicago, and she loves the fact that “different concepts are coming into play.”

Follow Slaton on Instagram (@christinaslaton), check out her previous work (@infatuation_chi), and look out for her photos from her new gig (@lettuceentertainyou).

#Spoon Tip: If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, don’t miss the Sugar and Spice Summit on April 1 – Slaton is one of the speakers featured in the day-long event celebrating women in food.