Lunar New Year food photography tips from Hong Kong’s favourite Instagrammers and bloggers

The best tips: lighting and depth. But these foodies know a lot more about taking the perfect food photo, and they share their pointers here.

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 2:59pm

Food photography is at its most colourful during Lunar New Year. From snacks to desserts, dishes served throughout this period are known for their auspicious colours (red and yellow) and meanings: fish for abundance, noodles for longevity and sweet-rice dumplings for togetherness and harmony.

Over the past 24 hours, electronics giant Apple challenged a group of popular food Instagrammers to come up with images that capture this festive mood at the table, using the iPhone 7 Plus (portrait mode). We pick eight of the best.

Nicole Fung & Eugene Kan

@thatfoodcray (97.1k followers)

Pro tip: “I always get asked about what makes a good photo so here goes: Lighting is key. Good light means more dynamic range and more depth in your colours. While natural lighting is great, it’s not always the case especially when you’re out for dinner. Sometimes you have to ask to get seated closer to the window or swap seats to move out of a shadow. Watch out for backlit photos where you’re shooting directly into a light source, leaving your subjects dark and underexposed.”

“That’s tong yuen (glutinous rice ball in Cantonese). Composition is one of those underlying traits that make a good photo great. The most basic rule of composition is the rule of thirds. Imagine your frame divided into 9 sectors; aim to have the point of focus on one of the intersecting lines. This, however, is merely a rule and a starting point. There’s a lot of impact in using centre-composed shots, symmetry, and isolation. Knowing when to use them for effect is something that will come with experience. The last thing is using depth of field to further isolate and highlight the subject. Features like portrait mode ensure your photos pop when highlighting the subject.”

Margaret Lam

@little_meg_siu_meg (67.6k followers)

Pro tip: “For long objects like fish, which are hard to fit into a square on IG [Instagram}, I usually shoot it front-on and on one side, to fill the rest of the space with other objects.”

Ann Cheng

@taiwanwalker (60.6k followers)

Pro tip: “During a CNY-eve dim sum lunch with a friend, using portrait mode easily gives a perfect composition of these waxberries, which are custard inside, with more depth to the photo. Besides, adding some decorations for pictures, like the red packet in this photo, helps make a rich composition and creates a joyful atmosphere of Lunar New Year.”

“The [portrait mode] creates so much depth for photos, and makes every object and person pop out from the background, just like a professional camera. And for me, I’d prefer taking photos with as much natural light as I could, since natural light gives the object its truest reflection on colours.”

Daniel Haddad

@danielhungryhk (78.8k followers)

Pro tip: “Known to symbolise prosperity, rice is known to be a good luck food by the Chinese making this salted egg yolk fragrant rice dish at Lee Lo Mei a great Lunar New Year choice. Using portrait mode made sure to focus on the meat at the centre of the dish. Space is good, but don’t be afraid to crop an image to change its composition.”

Li Wun Ling

@chocolatemuimui (48.5k followers)

Pro tip: “[This photo focuses] on my favourite dish and gives a depth effect, and the [portrait] mode works well even in dim light conditions.”

Sander Jackson Siswojo

@palatism (29.1k followers)

Pro tip: “Find an unusual angle/way of looking at your objects. Depth creates dimensions. Try to shoot at a 45-degree tilt to achieve depths and perspectives. The object does not have to always be in the centre of a frame. Spend a few seconds by simply looking at the objects. The sky’s the limit. Observe, imagine, and capture. You’d be surprised.”