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Back when I still thought of myself as a serious foodie and important food blogger person, I bought myself a fancy DSLR and took a lot of awesome pictures. But my pictures were never as pretty as I wanted and they always looked a bit…unfinished.

At first, I thought the magic was in post-processing, so I learned how to use Photoshop (and its free cousin, GIMP). But even after selective editing, my pictures still left something to be desired. I did a lot of research on food photography and discovered the sad truth: most serious food photographers also have serious equipment. I had a great camera, but I didn’t have a set of tripods, wide-angle lenses, a continuous light source, bounce lights and diffusers, not to mention an array of gorgeous prop bowls, spoons, distressed surfaces. The list of things I didn’t have was so long that I sort of gave up on being a food blogger altogether.

Then my smartphone came to my rescue. Thanks to the existence of iPhone apps like Hipstamatic and the emergence of Instagram, I discovered I could take a lot of food shots quickly and then just edit and filter them to look right. Sure my phone wasn’t as versatile as my DSLR. I couldn’t adjust the aperture or the white balance in my pictures, and in low light, the pictures were terrible. But daytime food shots were passable, and with a bit of Instagram filtering, even pretty.

I put the DSLR away for vacation trips and shot exclusively with the iPhone after that. But doubt began to creep in, and ultimately, I realized I was going to need all those tools and props I’d rejected in the first place!

This time though, I was going to be smart about it. I was going to DIY the heck out of my food photography setup, and I was going to do it on a dime. (In other words, jugaadh is life).

You know what? It works. Here are some pictures I took of this morning’s breakfast, using only construction paper (white or black), white foam board, and a dinner napkin. (For examples of other inexpensive props you probably already have or can easily get, check out Laura’s excellent list at A Beautiful Plate).

These pictures were shot on my iPhone 6S. The images are slightly cropped for layout purposes, but otherwise unedited and unfiltered.

You can see the progression from a bland photo of a bowl of granola on my kitchen table to something well lit with a dash of color. Pretty cool, right?

food-photo-iphone-tips

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