The last 3 months of the year are arguably the most Instagram-able months of the year. Between pictures of pumpkin spice lattes, the typical autumnal and/or snow landscapes, Halloween costumes, and holiday pictures of the fam, your Instagram aesthetic is on track to be totally on point. But we can all agree that Thanksgiving is a key component to the holiday season of Instagram. Some things to consider when you take your Thanksgiving pic:


Get out of the kitchen.

When it comes to lighting, the term “au naturel” has never been more important. Kill the fluorescent lights (aka mom’s kitchen is not ideal), don’t use flash (like ever), take the picture near a window, or better yet, go outside. Remember to shoot away from the light; the last thing you want is your turkey to be dark. Oh, and don’t wait until 6 o’clock to Instagram your plate; natural, daytime light is the best light.

Take advantage of Thanksgiving decor.

It’s like your mom wants you to take an awesome Instagram pic. She doesn’t break out the expensive plates, the nice tablecloth, and the leafy centerpieces for your smelly cousins. Use all of it to your advantage.

Plating is key. Use white or simple plates to make your food the center of attention. Make sure the plate is proportionate; don’t spoon on mounds of mashed potatoes (do it after you Instagram); clean up the dripping gravy; and organize all those cuts of turkey, don’t just pile it on. If you’re going for an authentic/messy look, make sure it’s strategic and not over the top. No one wants to see your green beans sticking out of your mashed potatoes like some modern art piece.

A great meal just tastes better eaten at a pretty table. It's a fact. @juliakramer can vouch.

A photo posted by bonappetitmag (@bonappetitmag) on

Props are sooo important. Keep it simple with some cutlery or get festive with some leaves. Just make sure it’s not too tacky or messy.

And just how no one likes a messy plate, make sure your background isn’t cluttered. The chances of you catching your uncle picking his nose will be a lot lower if you keep your back-drop simple. Try to stay away from distracting or busy backgrounds as it takes away from your plate.

Taking the actual picture:


There are only 5 acceptable angles:

  • Pictures taken from above
  • Low angle
  • Eye-level
  • Wide angle
  • Downwards angle

Play around with these options and see which one you like best. (Sidenote: wide angles would be good for capturing the fam around the thanksgiving table. The other angles are good for your plate. Pro tip: Low angles are good for making food bigger. I personally would use the above angle just so that all my side dishes get the love and attention they deserve)


Remember to always focus before you take a picture. It seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised to see how many blurry Instagrams are posted. Tap your screen to focus so you can get those double taps, okay?


Filters. Saturation. Contrast. What would Instagram be without edits? While the Instagram app itself is a useful editor, outside apps are the way to go if you want to maximize your photo’s true potential. When you edit, there are a few things that you should adjust:

Color Balance

Make sure your green beans are green, make sure your white plate is white, make sure your cranberries are red-ish/purple-ish/cranberry-ish, you get the picture. The white balance of a picture is very important.


@elle_jaime is in mashed potato heaven.

A photo posted by bonappetitmag (@bonappetitmag) on

Make the details of your plate stand out by increasing the contrast of your picture. The right amount of shadows/highlights are can make or break your plate.


Play around with the exposure to find the perfect lightness/darkness you want. Try to be subtle with exposure since over-exposure looks gross and grainy. Definitely don’t overdo it.


Realistic is what you should be going for. Too much of anything is never a good thing and the same applies to filters. Stay away from filters that make colors extremely saturated. If you’re looking for inspiration of what not to use, look back 152 weeks ago to your first Instagram post when you thought it was cool to use the most intense filter. Cringe and learn.

Other tips:


If your picture needs cropping, crop it. If you’re one of those people who like to Insta full pictures, go for it. The last thing you want to do is ruin your aesthetic.


Main point: don’t try too hard. While witty and humorous captions tend to get likes, so do heartfelt captions. Try not to make the caption long because let’s face it, we live in the 21st century and we have no patience for long ass captions. And if you’re still stuck in 2013 and still hashtag everything, this is your formal command to stop. Be wise in your choice of hashtags if you’re using any at all (#turkeyday would be appropriate, or, 10 points for originality, #thanksgiving); that way more people who look through the hashtag can like your beautiful pic but not at the expense of you looking idiotic.


Post your location. Not only is it cool to see your photos on a map if you’re bored at 1 a.m., but it also allows for people who look up the location to see your photo, too. More potential likes? Yes please.

Go forth and Instagram the best picture you’ve taken yet. You’re welcome.