In this age of social media and social sharing, it seems we can’t say we’ve truly enjoyed a meal without having shared it with our Instagram community or Facebook friends, taking perfect shots of our plates in the hope of capturing the moment and enticing the senses of others. As a blogger, I am a totally guilty party on this front, so I was really delighted to be invited along to my local IKEA store here in Belfast to learn some top tips on styling and photographing food and kitchen wares for that perfect Instagrammable shot. As a homes and interiors blogger, I haven’t worked with foodie styling that much in the past, however with IKEA’s gorgeous new Summer 2017 dining and kitchenware ranges in-store, I was excited to get to use their products whilst creating some Insta-worthy shots.
Local stylist and all-round Instagram guru, Eve Brannon, was on hand during the evening helping us create a Swedish ‘smorgasbord’, which is essentially sharing plates of tapas-style food which is enjoyed by family and friends together around the table, everyone helping themselves in true feel-good ‘hygge’ fashion. Eve showed us how to style the various ingredients on our own individual smorgasbords, all the while imparting some invaluable tips on how to make our culinary creations totally and deliciously ‘Instagram-able’, using food and serving ware which can all be bought in-store.
Here are some things I learnt on the night about styling and photographing food, as well as some pictures of my very own smorgasbord and details on some of the products featured…
Colour brings food to life, so make sure to garnish with ripe red tomatoes or a slice of lemon to add vibrancy to the dish. Always ensure you use the appropriate garnish, too! Lemon with fish, tomatoes or bright green rocket with steak, and so on.
Don’t undermine the importance of texture. Try to use a variety of textures and play around with different heights and shapes, too. Chunks of rustic bread, fresh juicy grapes glistening with water, cheeses crumbled on the plate, that type of thing. Don’t be afraid to brush a little oil on meat or spritz some water onto fruits or vegetables to help them stand out and to create added textural interest.
Presentation is key, but avoid the temptation to make everything look too perfect and contrived. Food is natural and is there to be eaten, so let it fall onto the plate as naturally as possible, allowing a few crumbs or torn herbs to lie where they fall. The dish should look as if you haven’t spent absolutely ages styling it (even though you probably have!)
Natural light is best for food photography, so avoid snapping it under artificial lighting if possible. Quite often it’s our freshly cooked dinner that we’re most proud of, however it can be difficult to avoid having to photograph it under harsh kitchen lighting. Bringing it outside or into a brighter room for a moment can make all the difference. (Just be quick so you can enjoy it while it’s still warm!!) Using a small handheld mirror can certainly help bounce light around, too.
Finally, decide on the focal point of your dish and work with that. Consider different angles and include close ups of different elements on the plate – often these details are the pictures we like best. The classic Instagram way of photographing is from a bird’s eye view, known as a ‘flat lay’, however feel free to experiment with other angles and viewpoints, too. Let the food do the talking!
So, taking on board all of Eve’s top tips, I managed to style my very own smorgasbord – I opted to style a board of savoury nibbles, however some people chose a variety of sweet foods. The general consensus was that savoury foods were easier to style, perhaps because there’s more variety of texture and colour, with meats, leaves, cheeses, breads and nuts all sitting really well together.
And here it is… YUM!
The wooden board I used to place my delicious wares on was this one and you can find the full range of IKEA cutlery here. All the food used here (aside from the salad veg) is available to buy from the IKEA food market. We were served a sparkling pear drink which was really refreshing and would be perfect to serve when entertaining as a non-alcoholic option.
Eve styled a dining table up with pieces from some of IKEA’s summer ranges for us to enjoy our Swedish fare at. The table cloth is from the SOMMAR 2017 collection, which features a range of brightly patterned and vibrant textiles and summery homewares, perfect for entertaining outdoors. I loved these gorgeous green glass tumblers, this Moroccan-esque tealight holder (a few of these would look great outside in the evening all lit up), these placemats and the candle holder, which is part of this year’s IKEA PS collection.
The different elements all came together so effortlessly to create a relaxed, summery vibe that reflects the laid-back style of communal dining a smorgasbord buffet encourages. And yes, it tasted as good as it looks!
The faux foliage and artificial orchids were displayed in these paper bag style plant pots, as well as these woven water hyacinth plant baskets. All these items are available to buy from the garden department and I, for one, would endorse the use of faux greenery to brighten up a dark corner of your home or a north-facing windowsill.
I really enjoyed the whole experience of learning about and creating an authentic Swedish smorgasbord and I definitely took some of stylist Eve’s top Instagram photography tips away with me. I look forward to trying out this style of dining with friends and family over the summer months – perhaps a Swedish style midsummer get-together is on the cards? Any excuse for a party.
And I’ll share it on Instagram with you, of course ;)
** IKEA Belfast invited me along to the above event, however this post has been written by myself and all opinions given are entirely my own.**