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Tips on How to Take Good Pictures of your Restaurant's Menu Items

Restaurant Photography Tips

Your menu is the heart and soul of your restaurant. It is a marketing tool that can guide diners in their menu choices. Enhancing your restaurant menu with photos is an effective marketing technique. Studies conducted by industry leaders confirmed that by adding a picture to a menu item can increase its sales by up to 30%.

The name of a menu item does not always give customer a clear picture of what is in the dish. A photo and a well-written description help customers visualize eating that food and make their mouth water.

You do not need a photo of every menu item, nor would you want to have that. The point is to attract attention to the dishes you want to sell more of, while making the menu look nice. Most restaurants have a few “signature dishes” that are usually have a high profit margin because diners are wiling to pay more for them. A few photos of your signature dishes on the menu will draw customers’ attention to those items as well as make the entire menu appealing to the customer.

Many restaurant owners do not use photographs of their food because:

  1. They are afraid they don’t know how to photograph food correctly.
  2. Feel it is expensive to hire a food photographer.
  3. Think that it requires a food stylist to arrange and display the food for photographing.

While there are restaurants that do use food photographers and stylists, food photography does not necessarily have to require a professional photographer, expensive camera and lighting equipment or a food stylist. You can actually take good pictures of your menu items yourself.

You do want the food to look fresh and appetizing, so here are some clever tips and tricks to really bring out the best in your food photographs:

You Can Use Your Smartphone: With a great smartphone, food photography is certainly budget friendly. While a smartphone does not offer the control or flexibility that a professional camera does, it is much more user friendly. Photo Editing Apps are available that are a quick and easy way to improve the look of your food photographs. One of them is “Snapseed”- in addition to filters, it has a tool for creating depth of field and blurring the background so that the food is the central focus and appears crisp and clear.

Choose Food that Photographs Well: A juicy steak, a fresh green salad or a delicious chocolate dessert are much more appealing than a white risotto dish or mashed potatoes because the colors bring out the flavors.

Use Natural Light: Look for a big natural source of sunlight like a window or an outdoor table. Avoid direct sunlight as it casts big shadows. If your restaurant does not really have a natural light source, then you will need to use an artificial light source like a spotlight, but no flash. A softer, natural light picks up the natural colors and juices of the food make them look appetizing to the viewer.

Mute Reflective Surfaces: Most restaurants have wooden table tops that have a reflective surface to them that can ruin the lighting, cast shadows on the food and drown out the food colors. Use a white tablecloth or foam board background surface to reduce the glare and make the color of the foods really stand out.

Shoot at table level: When shooting food you want to strive to photograph at an angle, which is 10-40 degrees from the table. Don’t take food shots at eye level because you may miss all of the details of the food display. We see our food at eye level and it’s more appetizing when we see it at the actual level the food is at.

Get in close and isolate the dish: Shooting a picture of a plate of food from too far away or with side angle lens may pick up things in the background such as waiters, other diners that can distract the viewer’s attention from the food. There is way too much going on in the foreground and background, when all we want to see is the food. Getting in close helps bring out the texture of the food and focuses the viewer’s attention on the food.

With these basic food photography tips, you can add DIY food photography to your marketing bag of tricks and increase your customer base.

Check out5 Restaurant Menu Secrets You Might Not Know About and Effective Restaurant Ads: Using Facebook Ads.