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It surprised me, but a little research taught me that a lot of people are constantly using their iPhones to grab pix of food. I admit I do it myself.

Now with Thanksgiving upon us, it might occur to you to capture what’s on the table at that family gathering. The iPhone takes excellent, color balanced close-ups as we all know, so let me share some tips on how to have the best chance of getting some memorable photos of Thanksgivings memorable meals. I’ve got some photo examples here, but it’s not Thanksgiving so I settled for some Tex-Mex. Not exactly Pilgrim food, I know. Sorry.

First, what iPhone do you have? Apple has continually added megapixels to its cameras, the iPhone 4 has 6 MP, while the iPhone 4S gave us 8 MP until the new iPhone with 12 MP. I think anything from the 4S on up will get you some nice images.

As with most photography, lighting comes first. You might be lucky and get natural light on the dinner table, but generally you’ll get tungsten or LED light. That’s OK, and your iPhone will compensate and try for the best color temperature. If not, you can make adjustments later in editing.

Don’t, repeat, don’t use the iPhone flash. The light will be harsh, and objects look best when lit from the side, not the front, or in some cases, objects look really good when they are backlit. If you can’t get the best angle of light, consider moving yourself or rotating the dish of food.

What’s in the background? Tables are usually cluttered. If you are wanting the best picture make the background neutral, and keep other objects away from your photo subject, unless you are purposely shooting multiple dishes.

You are probably working close up, so keep a steady hand, and just lightly touch the shutter button. Use focus lock on the camera once you are happy with how the photo is focused, and set the camera to HDR, which will give you a richer looking image. If light is low, add more, because otherwise you are likely to move and your photo will be blurry.


Don’t be afraid of closeups. Foods can look really nice if you get in close, and you are assured of getting rid of the distractions.

Do you need to edit? Often, to bump up the saturation a bit, or play with the shadows. You may want to crop the photo for the best effect. I almost always edit my food images. I find Snapseed serves my food images the best, so I use the HDR settings, the sharpen settings, and sometimes the Glamour Glow sliders. If need be you can crop away anything you don’t want to see.

If you get some good images, send them around to the guests, and most important, to the host. They’ll appreciate it, and memories of the Thanksgiving dinner will be preserved along with the people photos you’re already likely to take.