Gone are the days where pricey equipment or a hired photographer is needed to take beautiful and impactful photos of food. Just take a look through your social media feeds and you will see examples of this everywhere.
If you own or manage a restaurant and want to take photos of your own food for marketing, to add visuals to your menus, or to showcase dishes on your website — the best tool you have is as convenient as the phone in your pocket. Even if you don’t have the latest and greatest phone model out there, there is a pretty good chance your mobile device can still take a decent photo. (And if not your phone specifically, perhaps one of your employees can lend theirs).
We bring this up so that with a little guidance, there should be no excuses not to showcase what you’ve got in the best way possible.
The device in which you actually take the photo is just a small piece of the puzzle however. There is a bit more to it than just snapping away aimlessly.
Below we take a look at a few tips focused around photos taken by an average person (non-professional photographer) with their phone. We focus on simple tips and tricks and the ‘WHY’ behind certain methods of photography. By simply having a better image-driven web presence on social media and your website, it’s proven you not only increase sales, but also increase order sizes if images are placed on takeout or online ordering menus.
It’s all about perspective.
Take a look at the photo of this dish below. The first photo shows mainly the juices from the tomatoes in the foreground, with the cheese and actual tomatoes towards the back. All we did to make the second photo look a bit more enticing, is turn the plate around. We now can show off the beautiful tomatoes and see how large the portion of cheese is. Same dish, just different way of looking at it. Before taking the photo, think about how the dish will look to someone else when they see it for the first time – you want your food to give its best ‘first impression’. The takeaway here is to simply move the camera or the dish around to find the angle that works best to highlight your delicious subject.
Get a little closer…
This is a judgment call based on what you are looking to accomplish, but sometimes it’s a better idea to show more detail by taking a photo of your subject close up and only showcasing a part of it, rather than snapping a picture from farther away. This idea will direct the eye to the delicious details you’re trying to highlight, rather than skimming over a busier photo with no emphasis on anything in particular. We do not recommend using the zoom lens however, as that may cause the photo to become pixelated. So get close to your subject, don’t be shy! Just try to capture the true essence of what is being photographed… what would make your mouth water? Make sure your subject is in focus though – no one likes a blurry photo!
Plating is important
You may already be aware of this, but how your food is arranged and presented on the plate is crucial. As a matter of fact, it’s proven that beautiful plating has a psychological impact on how people eat, and even enjoy their meal in front of them. (This interesting article talks about that and a lot more.)
The same philosophy applies to food photography as well. If the food you’re taking the picture of is sloppily arranged or looks like you don’t care much, unfortunately that is translated quite literally through the photo. Try and photograph food on a clean, non-cluttered surface or plate from above. It gives a unique and all-encompassing view of how well you’ve presented your dish, and it will be sure to catch the eye of someone scrolling through their social media feeds or deciding what to order off your menu!
What’s with all the filters?
So you’ve arranged, plated and focused on what the intended subject of your photo will be, but now there is lighting to worry about. Not to worry (too much anyway) because filters are the amateur photographer’s way of faking it — which is a good thing! We didn’t all go to school for photography, nor do we all own pricey cameras that have settings to transform our photos to look their best in any light, So it’s much easier to take advantage of filters to help us out during the photo editing process.
First, don’t let the word “editing” scare you. There are countless phone apps and computer programs that are created for people who more or less have no idea how to edit photos, as well as camera modes built into your device to work with.
When it comes to posting photos on social media, Facebook has some filter options, and Instagram offers SO MANY ways to make your photos look better, (or worse if you’re not careful!) and can help bring attention to them by giving them a more unique look than the other photos on your follower’s feeds.
In the photos below, the difference is subtle, but effective. The use of the slight filter on the beer in the second image brightens it, makes it look more refreshing with the “sunlight” hitting it, and draws the eye to it. A very simple, yet worthwhile change to a picture can impact it a lot.
As mentioned earlier, lighting is not always in our favor and we often find ourselves taking a photo in a low-lit room — But that’s OK! Look what we did by adding a filter to the same herb-crusted lamb chops in the second picture. With a filter adding some brightness and warmth, you now can see the detail of the dish, therefore making it much more desirable. Is it perfect? Perhaps not, but it is tremendously more effective than having an image that people skip over because they are unable to make out what it is.
The key to photographing your food is to not over think it, but to simply think twice before snapping away just to get the job done. A good photo may take a little planning, but doesn’t have to be rocket science, and feel confident that you have all the tools necessary to shoot like a pro!
Summing things up:
- Get up close and personal
- Keep your subject in focus
- Think about the angles you are shooting from and try a variety of them to see what works best (you may be surprised)
- Take care when plating your food
- Filters are your friend
Taking a moment to apply these simple techniques will bring more life to your food through photos, and will greatly benefit your business in the long run.