Focus up: Tips for taking your best pictures with GiftAMeal

The great thing about taking a picture with GiftAMeal is that, regardless of how the picture turns out, it will always be a picture you can be proud of. Each picture, no matter how out of focus or how embarrassing your friends are being in the background, will help feed someone in need. But since there is an option of sharing your pictures on social media to gift additional meals, you may want your pictures to look their best. Here are six tips for taking your best pictures with GiftAMeal.

1. Choose your subject wisely

A common misconception when using the GiftAMeal app is that you need to take a picture of your food. This is not the case! While your meal may often be the most eye-pleasing subject for your photo - don’t tell your date I said that - anything at a GiftAMeal restaurant can be your muse. So snap a picture of your drink, the décor, your friends, your date, or take a selfie! Whatever moment you want to remember or share with the world can help feed someone in need.

2. Put your picture in the right frame

In photography there is a concept called negative space, which essentially refers to everything in a picture that isn’t the main subject of the picture. It is up to you as an artist to decide how much negative space you want to include in your masterpiece. I like to get up close and personal with my food, capturing every parmesan fleck on my spaghetti and every bubble in my beer. But sometimes the photo calls for some negative space. For example, some restaurants have beautiful décor that will compliment your picture, such as brick walls or centerpieces on tables. In those cases, pulling back to include more negative space can add more dimension to your photo and complement your subject. Similarly, please do not take a picture six inches from your date’s face. Allow some negative space or else you will have nothing but space in the seat across from you next time you dine out.

3. Lighting is key

It can be really hard to find favorable lighting in a restaurant setting. Overhead lights are often dim, or worse yet, the whole place may be lit by candles (yuck, romance). Unless blurry pictures are your thing - I won’t judge your art - you want as much light as possible. Try to get a table next to a window or sit out on the patio if it’s a nice day. You might have to shade your eyes, but at least your pictures will come out sharp and the colors will pop! If you are stuck in a dark, “romantic,” candlelit setting, there is always the option of using the camera flash. But be careful when using your flash! There are often reflective surfaces on a dinner table (e.g., plates, utensils, vases, etc.) waiting to blind you and drown out your beautiful picture. So consider the flash as a last resort.

4. Choose the best angle

While lighting may not be under your control, the angle at which you take your picture is. So take a moment to find your subject’s good side. Unless the subject of your picture is a human... always photograph humans from the front. But if your subject is food, there are three basic angles that tend to work best: diagonally down, directly overhead, and from the side.

Diagonally down is probably the most commonly used angle for taking pictures of food because it allows you to capture the most details. A 45 degree angle from above allows you to capture both the top and side of your food, making it especially effective for foods with depth, like a slice of deep dish pizza. This is also an especially effective angle for capturing other table-top details, like vases, candles, or other centerpieces. Just be careful with how you frame the picture, it’s easy to get your lap in the picture if you don’t line it up with the end of the table!

Pictures from directly overhead are great for dishes that have a lot of surface detail, but are not so interesting from the sides. For example, this is a great angle for soups, pastas, and thin-crust pizzas. Top-down pictures also tend to look best with minimalistic or symmetrical backgrounds. Try arranging your utensils symmetrically on either side of your dish, and center your picture perfectly using the GiftAMeal camera’s built-in grid feature. Friends will be talking about how artsy you are for weeks!

Pictures of food taken directly from the side are rare, but can lead to really cool shots for certain dishes. I think the best example of when to use a side angle is for food with visible layers, like burgers and certain cakes. The side angle allows you to emphasize each layer. There’s also no better way to make your food look HUGE than by taking a close-up side angle picture. Let the world marvel at your monolithic slice of cake and your pyramid of cookies!

5. Capture the right moment

Unsurprisingly, the best time to take a picture of a meal is typically right after it has been served. It comes out looking just as the chef meant it to look, and chefs are artists too! We know it can be hard to remember to use GiftAMeal before starting to eat; we are working on a way to remind you, we promise. But if you forget, or your animal instinct kicks in and you devour your food the moment it is set in front of you, don’t worry! Remember that anything can be the subject of your GiftAMeal picture! Snap a picture of your empty plate or your sauce-covered face and preserve a fond memory of your meal.

6. Just have fun with it!

This may be the most important tip of all! Sure, you may get more “likes” on Facebook and Instagram if you bring in your own lighting equipment and stand on your chair for a better angle. But at the end of the day, GiftAMeal is just a fun way to share the experience of giving back with friends. Every picture you take on GiftAMeal is one you can be proud of, so no need to stress if your picture is not perfect. Just get out there, try a new restaurant or a new dish, and do some good!

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