Food Photography Tips from Tina Ly-Johnston

Food photographer, blogger, and bon vivant Tina Ly-Johnston has an Instagram feed that we love for so many reasons. Not only do we get serious inspiration on where to eat in our wonderful city of San Francisco, but we love seeing the vibrant and crisp photos she takes of food and restaurants wherever she goes.

We've asked our favorite San Francisco foodie to share her tips and tricks for shooting food photography. For all of you out there waiting to Instagram your next meal, this one's for you.

Hi! I'm Tina and my account on Instagram is @tina. I grew up in Orange County, CA and made the move up to the Bay Area two years ago with my husband. Looking back, it's been the best thing we've ever done.

We spent the first year exploring everything we possibly could and it wasn't until then that I really started to share regularly on Instagram. Last summer, I truly started to get into the food scene in SF and along the way met some amazing and passionate people. I never used to share photos of my food, but that thought quickly went out the window. Food is beautiful here, and getting to know the people behind it encouraged me to want to share everything. I've always loved food, but I never fully appreciated it the way I do now and I owe it all to the people of SF. I quickly found I was taking so many photos with my trusty iPhone 6S and Canon 6D that I eventually launched a blog to share more of them on.

Loews Regency | #priime_cocktail

Discovering Priime has sped up my editing so much these days. I love looking through the filters and seeing what works best for the photo and the suggestions that Priime offers are always spot on. My style tends to be more on the bright and colorful side and I've been able to achieve that look with the help of Priime.

Here are some tips to get the best out of your food photos that I follow:

Good Light

Like any other photography tip you'll hear, make sure the light is on point. I have (and I know other food bloggers who have done this) taken food outside or to a window for a quick second to get a better photo. Tapping on certain areas on your iPhone camera screen can adjust the lighting too.

Twisted Donuts | #priime_cocktail


If it's an overhead shot, try to position everything in an eye catching way. Incorporate color and interesting things available to you without cluttering the shot. Example: cocktails, candle, menu, etc.

The Loop Churros | #priime_bushwick

No Shame

I know the weird looks you get from other people can be intimidating when you take food photos, but it's ok! Standing up for a shot or even using a chair will be silly for a minute or two but honestly worth the shot sometimes.

Louie's Gen-Gen Room | #priime_pacific Hog Island Oyster Co. | #priime_analog

The More the Merrier

Food is best enjoyed with people, so invite those foodie pals out! You'll get to try more dishes and experience new things together. Just make sure you eat with people that won't mind some cold food while you snap some photos.

1601 Bar & Kitchen | #priime_around

For more of Tina's food photography and work, check out her blog and Instagram. (Her latest post, Real Instagram Hacks, is one of our favorite reads!)

You can find all the styles used in Tina's photos in this post on the Priime app available on the App Store.

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