Dan Seidman has no formal culinary training, “other than Food Network and YouTube,” he notes, and has never taken a photography class. “I never really had the expectation or intention to become an Instagrammer in that sense,” he admits. “Everybody likes to take pictures of their food, usually it’s just not very good, and my pictures used to not be very good but I’ve always been interested in it, so I just naturally started getting better. Then I thought, ‘Hmm these look pretty good.’”
Good enough that he started posting his pics to his personal Instagram account with food-related hashtags hoping they’d get reposted by others. Now, the 22-year-old is a star not only on the platform with over 63,000 followers, but also through his burgeoning recipe business and brand-building prowess. Below, a round-up of Seidman’s mouth-watering greatest hits.
THE BIG BREAK
The turning point for stepping up his Instagram game came when he posted this gooey masterpiece. “Since that picture, I’ve posted every other day. It’s just picked up from there. It’s funny, looking back now that photo doesn’t look great, but at the time I thought it was really, really good.” Though he’s taken down a lot of his first photos, he’s left up some of his early shots he describes as “crappy” to show he was just a regular guy who used to take not-so-good pictures.
Why do people love photos of food they’re never going to eat? “There’s the sharing factor. People really like to be able to share this type of stuff. Most of the comments I get are just people tagging their friends so they can show [them]. There’s something to be said about being able to share an enjoyable experience. They’re not really eating it but just the idea of eating it seems to be a pleasure to people.”
Seidman prefers to photograph food against a natural wood or a solid white plate. He says it doesn’t “distract from the picture and [leaves] a clean background.” If you think you could never achieve such drool-worthy shots, Seidman answers with encourgament. “I think anyone, if they really wanted to, could make it. It’s not that hard, but a lot of people don’t feel they have the skills in the kitchen or the confidence to do that.”
“It was a very sunny day and I was shooting outdoors. Natural daylight is definitely a plus but you don’t really want direct sunlight on the food that you’re shooting. To remedy this, I had a few people hold up towels to block the sun. This way, I still had the brightness of the natural light, but without the harsh rays from the sun,” he says, adding that the shrimp and mussels overcook easily, which gave him only a small window of time to take the shot. And getting a bit of the flame in the shot without the photo being obscured by smoke took several tries.
It’s the almighty burger – and all the dripping, oozing ingredients that come with his variations – that may be most responsible for keeping followers coming back for more. The burger that’s gotten the most buzz is the as-ridiculous-as-it-sounds PB&J burger with bacon. “It’s got liquidy peanut butter dripping all over. My audience is really receptive to over-the-top stuff.”
His most-liked Instagram photo to date couldn’t be further from red meat: a quintet of purple-and-white. “People love those popsicles I think it was just super colorful and really pretty to look at.”