If you open Reddit and scroll through your feed, chances are that you’ll see a food post trending on the website. Food is one of the hottest trending topics on the internet, and carefully captured shots of beautiful dishes can do wonders in earning internet brownie points. The best part about food photography is that you don’t need any fancy camera to become successful. Any good Android smartphone with decent cameras can get the job done.

Picture-perfect food

Shot on Pixel 2XL

Reddit has several subreddits devoted to different kinds of foods, where you can share your images and rack up karma that people will see next to your name. Like achievement points in games, there’s no real point in boosting this other than the dopamine hit that comes from external validation and seeing a number next to your name get bigger. Still, it can be fun to rack up lots of imaginary internet points this way.


I’m no stranger to farming Reddit karma with food photos. Before switching to commercial food photography, I had several posts reach the top of r/food for the week, with one of them reaching the number one spot on the second page of r/all for that day.

While there’s no one way to guarantee a post blows up on Reddit, there are some steps you can take to give yourself the best chances of racking up some of that sweet internet clout, and you don’t need one of the latest and greatest phones to pull any of it off.

Sharpen your technique

The first thing you need for any food picture is food. We assume you have food and that it looks spectacular. Pictures of bad-looking food can blow up, but you’ll have an easier time if you start with beautiful-looking dishes. Once you have your food, the next thing to consider is composition. Composition isn’t just putting the food in the center of the frame. It’s also the angle you take your shot from, the orientation of the shot, deciding the main focus subject, the use of negative space, and more.

Like in commercial food photography, it’s also paramount to see what pictures do well. If you want your photos to trend on Reddit, surf the food subreddits and see what types of food photos generally end up trending. You’ll see a pattern emerge when you go to the all-time and weekly top posts on virtually every food subreddit.

While there’s plenty of variety in the foods you’ll see, the same angles and composition come up over and over again.

The top-down shot

The first is the classic top-down shot. This is great for many reasons, like putting most of your subject in the same plane of focus, ensuring that most of your image is in sharp focus, capturing side dishes and props surrounding the subject, and utilizing negative space in your composition.

The side angle profile shot

Second is the side angle profile shot, which is great at showing off layered foods, like cakes or burgers. If you take a top-down shot of a burger, you only capture the buns and miss out on the layers of goodness inside. This composition is also great for showing tall foods as it gives users a sense of the height of your food.

Add in portrait mode for some bokeh if your phone supports that for food, and the blown-out background will make your subject pop.

The downward-angled profile shot

The third is the downward angled profile shot. This angle is great for food because it’s relatively close to what it would look like if the subject was being served to you, and it can add dimension to the photo.

When taking downward-angle shots, ensure that your camera angle is between 30 and 75 degrees, with the ideal angle being 45 degrees for most food items. The 45-degree angle is the most versatile as it shows the top and the side of the dish you are capturing.

Choose your angle

While you’re likely to accidentally do any of these shots on your own, going in with these in mind can make it easier to get the right picture faster. Intentionality is important, and it can let you focus on the lighting and framing of your picture if you decide on the angle and composition before you get your phone out.

Don’t be afraid to take lots of pictures, too. My camera roll has dozens of virtually identical pictures in it, and it’s a massive help once you get into the habit of getting multiple options like this. You never know if your hand will have too much shake or if you moved too close or far after focus has happened for your food to be sharp. Get some options, immediately check them, and take more pictures if none of them is the right one.

Another way to get the best picture is by having lots of light. Low-light photography is difficult to pull off, and it’s even worse when it comes to food photography. When capturing food in low light, you get washed-out colors and miss out on the finer details that make the food pop off the screen.

If you’re doing this outside at noon, you’re pretty much set since you’ll have an abundance of light with a neutral temperature. If you’re indoors with low and warm ambient lighting conditions, the fastest way to get ideal lighting is to use photography lights. It’s a bit conspicuous out in public, but practical at home to have compact LED lights to light your food.

We recommend the Aputure AL-M9 if you’re on a budget, the Aputure MC if you’re willing to pay extra for more control and brighter light with temperature control, and the Aputure AL-MW if you need as much light in as small a size as possible.

The next tool may seem obvious, but it’s the camera you use, not the phone you use. Consider which camera to use if your phone has more than one. Macro lenses can open you up to interesting shots, though you’re better off avoiding using them if yours is one of the many disappointing 2MP ones. Telephotos are one of my go-to lens options because they let you get a fairly close-looking shot while giving you enough room to stay out of your lighting. Telephoto images are fundamentally different because of the way they compress backgrounds.

Comparing these two pictures, the backdrop doesn’t come close to covering the background when using the iPhone SE’s camera. However, there’s total coverage from the same perspective when using the telephoto lens of the Oneplus 8 Pro. Experiment with your options because you might find that what you thought was an impossible shot is within reach.

Put it all together

Now that we’re armed with these tips, it’s time to combine them like Voltron. Here’s a shot of ramen I made as an example. Since it’s in a bowl, our best bet is probably a top-down shot. I opened the blinds to get as much daylight as possible and held up an LED light for good measure since it was overcast. I used the telephoto lens on a Oneplus 8 Pro to stay as out of the way of the light as possible, and this is the result.

While none of this can guarantee runaway success with your food pics on Reddit, these tips can help you put your best foot forward. If you put a lot of effort into a picture, it can be a bummer to see it settle at a tiny amount of upvotes. It doesn’t have to stop there, though. There’s always another subreddit to post to, and it might perform better somewhere else.

This picture is a great example of that because after a day on r/food it only ended up at about +40 before leveling off. Still, it got the #1 hot spot for the day on r/ramen with a few hundred upvotes and over 800 upvotes after a day. While these aren’t front-page numbers, some intention and effort landed it at the top of a nearly half-million-member subreddit for a day.

Capture jaw-dropping food photos with your Android phone

As mentioned, you don’t need to buy a fancy DSLR camera to capture good food photos. You can use your Android smartphone along with one of these Android apps for photographers to capture and retouch your photos and share them across your social media profiles.

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