There was a time when the only reason to take pictures of your food was if your glowering nutritionist demanded you show them every single thing you were eating. Now taking photos of food is totally acceptable. It is a part of our culture. You don’t have to be a blogger, photographer, chef or nutritionist’s abductee to take food pictures. You shouldn’t feel awkward or weird or embarrassed because people are staring at you for taking pictures of your food at a restaurant. What you should be embarrassed about is taking pictures that look like crap.

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To aid me in my obsession for perfecting my picture taking game, Asus sent me their new ZenFone 3. The phone packs a powerful lunch. I mean punch 😉 The one feature which I’m really excited about is the 16MP rear camera. And for the rare occasions when I take a selfie, it has an 8MP front camera. The phone is lightning fast, thanks to its 14nm Snapdragon processor with 64-Bit Octa-Core CPU @2.0Ghz. The design is sleek and stunning; with spun-cut etchings and precision sculpted glass on both sides. It comes in four signature colours and I chose the gold naturally.

If you know me on Instagram, then you know I’m all about travel, food, animals, and the occasional sunset. The first few pictures I took on Instagram were hardly special. But since then I’ve learned some tricks to enhance my feed. People started noticing and I made many connections and increased my engagement. Here are some of the tips and tricks I learned along the way.

1. Sun’s out phone’s out

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Shot with the Asus ZenFone 3 on Auto Mode

Grab the table by the window. The sunlight can make your food photo look like the Lord himself is about to descend down to double tap it. The flash from the camera is harsh, and indoor light can be harsh sometimes too. Which bring me to my next point.

2. Let there be light

Pizza at dusk with some soft bulb lighting:

If there is no natural light, get a friend to use their phone’s torch light to illuminate the food. Use a white napkin as a reflector to bounce light and fill in any dark areas. You can also use the napkin to soften the torch light.

3. Compose the shot

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Shot on the Asus ZenFone 3 in the auto mode with manual focus

Don’t just photograph anything. Set the scene first. The plate doesn’t necessarily have to be in the centre of the picture. Move it around, arrange drinks or cutlery or condiments or napkins around it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly styled either; a donut or a cookie with a bite taken out it looks better. A sliced cake looks better than the whole thing. It doesn’t always have to be on the table, it can be on the window sill, on the bed, or in this case, my balcony wall.

4. In the shadows

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Shot on the Asus Zenfone 3 on the manual mode with ISO 1200

Don’t shy away from taking photos in the dark. Using shadows and darkness and using the right tools to edit your photos, you can create beautifully contrasted images. Don’t use the flash. Use high ISO. You can adjust the amount of light in the photo by tapping anywhere on the screen. Want to add more light to your image? Tap the darkest shadows on your screen. Want to get more shadow? Tap the brightest part of the screen.

5. Move

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Shot using the Asus ZenFone 3 on the auto mode

Don’t be afraid of standing up, crouching down, moving a few things around on the table, or even standing on a chair. I will admit I’ve stood on chairs a few times, but I only do it in places where I won’t bother the other diners. They’re all on their phone anyway so I think you’re good. 😉

So much organizing the table, putting each dish in it’s place(!), till the table looked great in the photo.

6. Blur the background

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Shot on the Asus Zenfone 3 on the auto mode, with the cupcake in manual focus

Tap on the part of the photo you want to focus on, preferably the brightest and most eye catching color on the dish, like this little red heart on the cupcake. A really good food photo has a short depth of field, which makes it look more appealing on Instagram. In this shot, the Zenfone 3 helped me blur the background out of focus, drawing you attention straight to the cupcake, which looks really sharp and in focus.

7. Shoot fresh food

Bangkok has numerous opportunities to practise quickly shooting fresh food.

 

Fresh herbs will start wilting, the cheese will start looking greasy, tacos will get soggy, but worst of all you won’t enjoy eating it. So take a great picture quickly so can get to the best part: EATING!

8. Process it

Before you take the food to Instagram, you can use a couple of other apps to edit, adjust brightness, contrast or temperature. Fix what natural light couldn’t. I really like VSCO, Lightroom and Snapseed.

It is truly built for photography.

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With the ZenFone 3, you can adjust settings easily and make the most of the phone’s built-in HDR function (particularly useful when shooting still objects). The auto mode is okay for some quick captures. But you can up your game with manual focus, exposure and adjusting the shutter speed.The camera is fast, both the autofocus and actual image capture. You can shoot pictures in rapid succession and then pick out the best ones.

It also has optical and electronic image stabilization for blur-free shots and video, colour correction sensor for true colour photography, and true 4K UHD video recording. It also has an image stabilizer to keep your photos from blurring.

[This post was written in collaboration with & sponsored by Asus; I used their ZenFone 3 and if you love taking pictures with your phone, I highly recommend it. The prices start at INR 21,999 and you can become an owner of one here.]