6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

If you want to stand out in today’s Instagram world, it’s no longer enough to simply take beautiful photos. You have to take beautiful photos, post them consistently (like everyday), organize them in a feed, and make that feed not only aesthetically pleasing, but cohesive. If I may, curating the perfect Instagram feed is like curating a gallery. You need both pieces that stand on their own, but that also can coexist as a unified body of work.

We talk a lot about how to market your work in Foodtography School, my virtual food photography school (with over 1,000 alumni to date!), but today I wanted to bring some of that knowledge to the blog. So put that pot of coffee on and get ready to learn, people. I’m about to spill some tips to help you plan out your food Instagram feed so it’s pretty AF.

#1 Use a Feed Organizing Tool

Plann, Planoly, UNUMSnug& Preview are all “feed organizers” that help you plan out your IG feed in advance. They let you move photos around a mock grid, allowing you to plan your feed with photos you haven’t Instagrammed yet.

This is #1 on my list because it is the first thing you need to implement in order to create a stellar Insta feed. I also love how some of the upgraded versions of the apps allow you to save captions to the photos so when it’s time to actually post your picture, the majority of the legwork is done; simply copy and paste, et voila.

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Many have unlimited squares to load photos into so you’ll never lose one in the depths of your phone again. So instead of looking through the 8,000+ photos on my phone I just go into my app and choose from the 20-30 already edited, Insta worthy photos I have cued up in the app. This makes it way easier when you’re curating your feed.

You can also edit and crop your photos within the tools, though tread lightly, because cropping can sometimes warp your photos, putting weird vertical lines across it giving a striped effect that you don’t want. For this reason, I recommend to leave editing tools to editing apps, and just use feed organizers for content visualization 🙂

#2 You’re the salt to my pepper:
The Dichotomies Rule

It’s hugely important to have a diverse collection of photos when you’re laying out your feed. As in, photos that contrast each other from one to the next in terms of composition, style, and patterning. This will ensure that it’s well balanced and not too repetitive.

The easiest way to do this is by working in what’s called dichotomies. Dichotomies are two things that are polar opposite one another. The ones we’ll focus on today are: Simple vs. Busy, Singular vs. Repetitive, Center vs. Left/Right Aligned, and Organic vs. Manmade.

Simple vs. Busy

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @colljeffers & @monkeyandmekitchenadventures

Singular vs. Repetitive

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @healthylittlecravings & @zestfulkitchen

Center vs. Left/Right Aligned

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @effyeahfood & @cookinginmygenes

Organic vs. Manmade

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @thewoodenskillet & @murielpostresg

When creating your IG feed, make sure that you’re paying attention to The Rule of Dichotomies. If you just posted a shot of a single piece of cake, you might want to contrast that by placing a photo of a tablescape next to it. Or if your feed is looking a little busy, give it some breathing room with a more minimal, simple shot.

#3 Use 3 types of shots:
The Varied Perspective Rule

Along with dichotomies, shooting from different angles is supremely important to the overall look of your feed. You don’t want your feed to end up as all overhead shots, or all straight on shots. You need a good mix to have a fabulous looking feed. Bonus, this will show your diversity as a photographer!

Overhead Shot

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Right two photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @lenaskitchenblog & @cupfulofkale.

Straight On Shot

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @thebutterywhisk, @shannanmonson & @unboundwellness

45° Angle Shot

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @zestfulkitchen, @butternutbakery & @martavals

#4 This, that, this:
The 1-2-1 Rule

You’re probably thinking what’s the 1-2-1 rule. Well um you don’t know yet because I just made it up but basically you DO NOT want any of the same dichotomies or perspectives next to each other. Here, I’ll use a screenshot from our @foodtographyschool feed to explain!

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @zestfulkitchen, @frontpaigebakes & @cupfulofkale

See how both the photos marked 1 are similar in composition, shot type, color and height? (extra points for color & height).

Here’s another example…

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Right two photos courtesy of Foodtography School students, @colljeffers & @cupfulofkale

See how the “1”’s are similar in composition and shot type, but “2” completely diverges?

Using the 1-2-1 rule gives your feed a really nice symmetry. And symmetry is universally appealing to the eye, so this is going to look great to everyone.

#5 Look at Your Feed in Blocks of 3, 9 & 15:
The Block Rule

When you’re planning and designing your feed, I suggest looking at your photos in blocks of 3, 9 and 15 together. Make sure it looks balanced in those increments. Within blocks of 3, ask yourself if you’re using 1-2-1 rule. In blocks of 9, make sure you’re using a variety of dichotomies and perspectives.

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

And in blocks of 15, make sure you’re hitting all of the big picture things that your brand is about. For example, in my feed’s ideal world, within every block of 15 photos I want at least 1 savory image, 1 restaurant/travel image, 1 image of me, and 1 photo of my animals/apartment. The rest are baking images, of course! 🙂

#6 Diamonds are your best friend:
The Rule of Diamonds

A good way to ensure a feed has balance is to look at it in a grid of 9 photos to make sure photos 2, 4, 6 & 8 all make sense together. Look at the grid below, see how photos 2 & 8 are similar in terms of a cocktail subject, green color, and a close-up crop? And see how photos 4 & 6 are similar in terms of left/right aligned and an overhead perspective? We can also say the same about photos 1, 3, 7 & 9. If you printed this out and folded it over it would almost be completely symmetrical!

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Following the Diamonds rule ensures that your feed has balance on a larger scale.

Bringing It Home

To tie all of this together, let’s look at an example from my actual feed…

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

  • In general, I’ve followed the Varied Perspective Rule In this grid we have overhead, straight on, and 45° angle perspectives.
  • I’ve also followed the Rule of Dichotomies by placing varied photos next to each other. For example, in row one we have a Singular vs. Repetitive dichotomy.
  • I’ve also also followed the 1-2-1 rule across all 3 rows. For example, in the middle row, the photo of carrot cake is overhead and up close, the beach shot is straight on and far away, and the pizza shot is overhead and up close.
  • The Rule of Diamonds is almost perfectly executed here. Photos 2, 4, 6 & 8 are all top down shots, and take up most of their frame.
  • Something to note, whether it’s a shot of you, your table at a coffee shop, or your dog, adding a personal touch to your feed gives people a chance to connect with the person behind the feed. This is really important! People are on social media to connect with people. Hence the photo of me from my trip to Mexico.

Now let’s contrast that with a not so great example from my actual feed…

6 Ways to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed

Now that you’re super knowledgeable, can you come up with a few reasons why this doesn’t work?

Here’s what I’m seeing–

  • The top right corner is far too busy. There are too many components in each photo, making for 3 busy photos touching each other. This goes against the Simple vs. Busy dichotomy.
  • The opposite bottom left corner is lack luster; those three photos are too simple. Plus, they’re all straight-on shots, which goes against the Varied Perspective rule.
  • The left column has too much negative space compared to the overall grid of 9. This again goes against the Simple vs. Busy dichotomy.
  • I’m not seeing any of the 1-2-1 Rule, nor am I seeing the Rule of Diamonds in this feed.

Of course, it can be hard to 100% follow all of these rules when organizing a feed. It’s good to have some imperfections along the way because we’re only human right? Regardless, even just knowing that these rules exist now, you’re going to be seeing your feed in a different light. And to get the most out of this post, I’d suggest bookmarking it, sitting with all this newfound information, and coming back to it in a few days once your brain has had a chance to digest. I bet your Instagram feed will be looking better in no time!

Love and brownies,

Sarah

16 comments

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Sarah you have the most beautiful feed! Thank you for sharing this.

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Wow this is such great information! Can’t wait to apply these tips to my feed. Thank you!

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This really helped to breakdown and simply how to curate my feed. As a new blogger, this information is invaluable. Thank you!

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This post was very informative and I cannot wait to incorporate some of these strategies into my feed. Thank you for sharing!

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It’s Sudoku for food photography! Thanks for the ‘why’ behind what’s pleasing to the eye. I’m curious how you plan out your feed. I’ve just been posting pics as I make recipes for my blog. Do you schedule the posts in groups of 9? I don’t have that many recipes figured out. Just getting started.

heidi
http://www.figandfork.co

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Yes, exactly! Yes, if you’re scheduling, groups of 9 is ideal. Though let’s be real, life is not that organized. So scheduling in groups of 3 or 6 is ok too 🙂

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Sarah, this was SO helpful! Thank you so much! I’m bookmarking this post to come back to, because there’s so much valuable info here. 🙂

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OMG, this makes perfect sense! I can see exactly what you are saying in your examples. I’m embarrassed to say that I NEVER look at the big picture when it comes to my feed and it shows! Thanks so much for all this helpful info.

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I’ve been trying to figure out for so long how to create a cohesive Instagram feed – THANK you for spelling it out and sharing it with us!

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This just blew my mind. It is SO helpful. I’ve been feeling like my feed is off and not coherent the way I want, yet I have a pretty consistent photography style. Now I know why: I haven’t used any of these strategies. You’re the best— thank you!

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This was so so helpful! So interesting to look at my own feed and see where I was following some of these tips, and other parts that looked messy…and I couldn’t put my finger on it! Thanks so much for sharing!! ❤❤

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Thanks for the tips! You talk about posting pictures of yourself to make it more personal – do you take these yourself? Or work with a photographer? Thanks!

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Sarah | Broma Bakery
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I work with a photographer for most of those!

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Super helpful post! Thank you so much <3

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Sarah – thank you so much for sharing these tips! I have been noticing the 1-2-1 rule on feeds, but I don’t know how to keep it consistent unless I post 3 pictures in a single day! If a feed is 1-2-1 and then I post a new photo, wouldn’t the feed shift to 1-1-2? I’d love to know more about how you add new content one at a time while keeping this format. Thanks again so much for sharing these awesome tips! I can’t wait to start planning!

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