With 140,000 Instagram followers, Heike Müller knows how to run a successful Instagram feed. Better known as @TastyAsHeck, she has made a big splash on the platform with her colourful and enticing food photography.
Heike’s channel has grown incredibly over the past three years and she has learnt a lot along the way. She now reveals how to boost your channel following, improve your social presence and those little food photography tips and tricks to help you succeed when posting food pics on Instagram.
Simple ways to boost your followers
“The question I’m asked most often is ‘how do I grow my Instagram following?’ My advice, stay authentic at any time.
Another recommendation is to run your own competition.
I did this at a point when I had around 40,000 followers, asking them to re-post or recreate one of my recipes using a hashtag I chose. A competition allows your photos to be seen by so many more people than usual. It’s no coincidence that two weeks after this competition, I had 20,000 more followers. But be warned, this takes a lot of work! It’s by no means an easy option.
If you’re not at this stage yet, look out for competitions that you could enter! I re-posted my favourite submissions, giving smaller accounts a chance to be seen on a bigger platform. It’s a win-win for everyone!
My favourite thing is to meet people in real life. Some friends I had met on Instagram organised an #InstaMeet in London together with me. We invited other Instagrammers to join us, bring along food, and we had a huge potluck party at the end of it. It was so good to meet people in person and grow your followers in a more personal way.
Improve your social presence
Nurturing your Instagram channel is as much a matter of staying true to yourself, as it is getting to know your followers.
As your channel grows, try to engage with and get to know your audience. I’m based in Switzerland, but I know that most of my followers are in the US & Australia, so I make sure my posts go up when they’re awake; not necessarily when I’m hungry or making my breakfast.
Take advantage of your posts’ captions. They’re your opportunity to show a little personality! Instagram also lets you use up to 30 hashtags per post, so think carefully about how to describe your photos or scene.
I spend time replying to comments on my posts and talking to everyone on my account. But my advice is to be social: comment on other feeds, not only your own. It’s a fantastic experience to be able to speak to, and meet, people of all ages from countries around the world, that’s why I stay open-minded.
For food photography, you don’t need sophisticated kit
One of the big myths of food photography is that you need fancy equipment to take beautiful photos. I don’t have any! I’ll sometimes use a curtain to dim the natural light a little, or get my boyfriend to hold a white tray just to give a lovely reflection for the shot. That’s as sophisticated as my set-up gets.
When I first started my Instagram gallery, I used my smartphone to take my photos. But I always felt I couldn’t express myself very well. I then moved to a compact camera and this summer I upgraded to an entry level DSLR, the Nikon D3400. It makes a world of difference to my photos. In low-light, when my eyes could barely see what I was photographing, the camera picks up amazing detail.
For a DSLR novice, the camera’s guide mode is perfect for helping me achieve what I want to. It’s easy to handle, it has an excellent depth-of-field, and SnapBridge is perfect for social media channels – your photos transfer instantly from your camera to your smartphone via low energy Bluetooth.
My followers also noticed the difference in quality; it was great to get positive feedback from my audience saying they’d seen the change.
Heike’s food photography tips
Why did I choose food photography? Because I love to cook and eat! I’ve taken many, many food photos since launching my account. Here are my tips for making your audience drool, based on my experience:
- Use the correct lighting: I always use natural light, even venturing outdoors sometimes to find the best light!
- Show the texture: I use a bird’s eye view to show the texture of my food; juicy fruit, crispy salad, crunchy bread, and oozing sauces should all stand out
- Find a nice background: a neutral-toned background lets the colours and textures of the fruit and vegetables really pop
- Think carefully about your props: I have learned never to use shiny cutlery as a prop– people’s attention will be drawn to it and not your food
Heike shared her wealth of Instagram knowledge with Nikon at Photokina 2016. Follow her feed as it continues to grow here: @tastyasheck.