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NPR's Handy Guide To Not Taking Terrible Food Photographs

The real excuse for this handy guide is a project we just launched called Cook Your Cupboard. The idea: You don't always have time for fancy recipes. But you probably do have unused stuff around the kitchen. So post a photo of what has you stumped, and get ideas from other people. Occasionally, we'll even get chefs to weigh in on-air.

And if we're going to ask for food photos (guilty!), we figured we'd at least offer a few basic tips — since slapping on an Instagram filter can only do so much. So let us guide you to the light (the perfectly exposed, natural light, that is, preferably from a north-facing window).

Big Mistake #1: Flash! Nooo! Anything but the flash!

The fix: Natural light is key to photography in general — so maybe open the blinds. It's the best way to avoid weird colors and glare from light bulbs. Plus, that way you don't have to use the flash.

Nooo! Not the flash! Anything but the flash! i i
NPR
Nooo! Not the flash! Anything but the flash!
NPR

Big Mistake #2: Clutter

The fix: Background stuff is distracting! Find a clean space and try shooting from above.

A very sad and cluttered collection of kitchen stuff. i i
NPR
A very sad and cluttered collection of kitchen stuff.
NPR

Big Mistake #3: Blur

The fix: Just back up a bit and show the whole thing. The wider the shot, the more light you'll have, which compensates for a shaky hand.

An unnecessarily close-up photo of ... something. i i
NPR
An unnecessarily close-up photo of ... something.
NPR

And voila: Doesn't this look pleasant? Now an expert, you can join the ranks of guilty food photographers and feel confident sharing your culinary oddities on Cook Your Cupboard.

Ahh, doesn't that look nice? i i
NPR
Ahh, doesn't that look nice?
NPR

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