In radio it’s called a “driveway moment” – when listeners arrive at their destination but remain in their car to hear the rest of an engaging story. On Instagram, food marketers aim to capture this same desire to pause. Ideally, each post should cause users to zoom in, read a caption, or effect the serial Instagrammer doubletake prompted by images that just have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. It takes the human brain as little as 13 milliseconds to recognize an image, but the according to recent MIT research, an image is far more likely to stick if it’s realistic and unexpected; if it takes a couple more milliseconds to figure out. (You can plug your photo into their formula to see how its ‘memorability score’). Considering the glut of food and beverage shots crowding social media, stand-out photography is more important than ever, yet far easier said than done.
Here are seven of the latest ways to get food and drink social media to resonate.
Minimalism is sweeping into almost every industry, and culinary marketing is no exception. Gone are the days of heavy propping and garnishing in front of perfect kitchen backdrops. Now the focus is on the food or drink itself, not a story that marketers attach behind the scenes. Today, there is a shift towards simple layouts, with art direction only in lighting and surfaces. A minimalism movement reaches throughout the shareable aesthetic trend.
Monochromatic photos shine, combining lighting, surfaces, and food from one color family. The monochrome look is highly stylistic and lends itself well to the booming world of plant-based cuisine, with the vivid color of ingredients are unsullied by contrasting tones. The trend spreads into other sectors of Instagram, as style blogger flat-lays and travel landscapes shoot in unified tonal platforms.
Abstraction, emerging from fine dining plating techniques, takes the forefront for many food bloggers. Abstraction highlights each individual component of a recipe, often using a familiar dish as muse. Though some abstract plating practices seem avant-garde, they engage Instagram audiences by alluding to conventional dish and provoking a reaction that’s more than just ‘yum’.
Scatter-Plating is a visually-arresting form of abstraction. By placing ingredients and compounds on asimple surface in a Pollock-esque manner, photographers capture a whimsical representation of what’s to come when all are combined. When executed correctly, scatter-plating instigates a slow, mouthwatering realization. While the vibe can be messy and dramatic or simple and clean, a scatter’s trademark, spatially-attuned placement is consistent.
Layering zeroes in on the geometric aesthetic. By layering ingredients, photographers achieve dimensionality and create a unique perspective on the blends of a dish. From avocados bent into swirls, rhubarb spiraled into spikes, or ratatouille simulating the scales of a fish, layering adds a sculptural, depthy element to photographs. Colorful tiered cocktails and layered beverages add an element of surprise to any image.
Video remains king of social media. Moving images consistently receive more interaction than stills. Beyond Tasty’s well-established recipe format, newer approaches more subtly maneuver ingredients or products in a visually-appealing way. Stop motion or a simple shot of a process fit the bill. With a simple process shot, like cake decorating, there is minimal styling and more direct information to please knowledge-hungry viewers.
Hyperrealism, when used to describe paintings, refers to nearly a photographic depiction of the painting’s subject. In the social media world, hyperrealism refers to genuine authenticity – the drool-worthy photos where it seems you can reach out and touch the cheesy burger. Viewers experience the concept as it is, not obviously retouched, overly-filtered, or perfect. There is no evident three-point lighting or styling in this trend; it is honest and raw. Those taquitos are a little messy, but you can see the grease on the tortilla and the cheese pulling out of the shell.
For food and beverage marketers, cutting through the clutter in social media can be the difference between success and failure. Knowing how to style and photograph food for maximum engagement is more important than ever. It might be strewn all over a plate like a painting in a museum, or handheld in hi-def focus, but at the end of the day, it’s all about using the food itself to deliver the message and create excitement about your brand.
Hyde Park Group is a new food and beverage development company providing services from concept through production and launch. Our approach unites marketplace and consumer research with five-star culinary, packaging design, co man services and digital outreach. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org