An Inside Look at the Secrets of Food Media, from a Non-Foodie Intern

What one intern learned about the industry—and herself

We all see incredible food photos and videos in our newsfeeds. Scroll for even a minute on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, and you're consumed by oozing grilled cheeses and pastel-colored unicorn desserts. But what has to happen to get that perfect shot? And what's the secret to going viral?

Here's what I learned as an intern, a non-foodie college student who has admittedly managed to somehow ruin box-mix brownies.

① When it comes to photos, it's all about the setup.

Turns out Derek Zoolander was onto something: Lighting and angles are the keys to a perfect picture. A good photo shoot needs plenty of light, either from a large source of natural light or professional-grade lighting equipment.

Angles are important as well. If you think one picture is enough, you're sorely mistaken. At least 25 photos are taken of any one dish: straight-on, bird's-eye, with hands, without hands—all so multiple people can find one single shot to agree on. (Also, being a hand model is tougher than it looks.)

② There's no science to viral.

Everyone in food media is looking for a reaction: how the audience (that's you reading this) responds to a post. Of course, the dream is to get a reaction that results in a recipe, article or photo going viral, but there is no formula or, ahem, recipe that guarantees a hit. So the next time you like or share something on social media, know that you're the one shaping the next food trends just as much if not more than chefs and restaurants do.

③ Take a risk!

I am a self-proclaimed picky eater and hate everything from soft cheeses to mayonnaise; I refuse to touch let alone taste things like Brie. But being adventurous is essential to success. Pesto and ricotta sounded terrible to me at first—until I tried them and fell in love. Taking a risk is what the food world lives for; the feeling of delight in something unexpectedly delicious.

So next time you're scrolling through pizza pics on Instagram, remember there's more to your feed than pepperoni; there's a lot of innovation, cooking and creativity put into that picture-perfect shot. And it's all done for the love of food.