Sometimes there are unexpected tools right under your nose and you don’t even realize it until you see someone else use them. That may be the case with this short YouTube tutorial on iPhone food photography by Peter McKinnon. Using a cookie sheet for a background and a stump for a rustic looking surface, Peter takes you through the steps he uses to create an Instagram food photo.


  • The room in your space with the most natural light
  • Stump
  • Cookie sheet
  • Foam core/“big piece of white something”
  • Food/subject


  • Snapseed
  • Lens Distortions
  • Instagram

First, Peter created his set near a window in his kitchen using the fine art of random object stacking, in this case utilizing a tub of dog food, a book, and a wine bottle (not listed in ingredients) to prop the cookie sheet behind the stump. The foam core is used as a reflector to fill in shadows cast by the window light.

Enter the subject – in the video, French toast Nutella rolls topped with a lovely ripe strawberry and garnished with what looks like a sprig of mint. Place your subject on the on the stump and style to taste, adjusting fill card as needed.

Now, snap your photos. An iPhone is used for the demonstration, but of course you can use any camera at your disposal with the understanding that post production would potentially change.

Now, it’s time to season the photos. First up, a trip through Snapseed (a personal favorite, by the way) will allow you to make your basic adjustments, similar to Lightroom. Refer to the video to see Peter’s preferred editing method. Then, final touches can be added in the Lens Distortions app (this is where your method would differ for another device, say, an Android phone.) Peter applies a “light hit” for a little extra panache to camera left, where the window is located.

Finally, the image is ready to find its place in the world – the place so many iPhone food photographs go to mingle – Instagram. Upload to Instagram, and voila! You have a 21st century digital masterpiece (using the term loosely of course) using stuff you had lying around your house and something pretty that you can eat now.


Video tutorial is below. We would love to hear about your favorite unexpected photo props or things that helped get the job done in the comments!

[via PetaPixel]