Food has been both my vocation and my passion. I’ve worked in corporate food service, at a juice bar, for a world renowned chocolatier, and I write a food blog (“Simple Fresh Yum.”) I love it all, but home cooking is my greatest pleasure. Around February of this year, I stumbled across a YouTube program, “Diane in Denmark,” that seemed to embody so much of what’s important to me in terms of enjoying life and celebrating with food. It was through Diane that I was introduced to the world of Instagram and the idea that communities there aren’t geographically limited.

Six months into my Instagram journey the vast majority of people who follow me are people who I don’t know personally. I think they are drawn to the idea of respecting and rejoicing in everyday moments, especially those that relate to food. As the number of my postings increase, so too does the number of my followers.

I strive to use foods of the best quality by shopping at farmer’s markets, local farms, and local producers, including Patyk Farms in Richmond (produce), Wallace Farms in Iowa (grass fed meats) and Honey Lake Bee Co., North Barrington. I find great inspiration for my food life from Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa”), author Michael Pollan and the food blog “Oh, She Glows.” Though very different, each recognizes food’s importance in our culture and understands its ability to greatly influence quality of life.

I think, as humans, one of our greatest drivers is the desire for connection. When we find joy in its preparation, presentation and sharing, food can bring us that connection, whether it’s with the people around our table or our virtual friends around the world.

Claire Ryan of North Barrington posts regularly on Instagram. Follow her at @coffeegirlclaire.

Food Photo Tips

·       Lighting is key. Minimize shadows and use natural light whenever possible.

·       Find your best angle; often this is from straight above, but play around. Sometimes from the side is more interesting.

·       Contrast and color are your friends; try to bring both into the photo.

·       After the picture is taken, use the editing tools. You’ll almost always want to increase lightness to some degree.

·       Use filters. Try them all and see which ones work for you.