Eating at a restaurant is an experience of the senses. The restaurant’s ambiance as well as the sight, smell, and taste of good food all contribute to the total experience. While a thousand words might be able to convey this, a single picture or better yet, lots of pictures of delicious food take a more direct path to the appetite centers of the brain. It will also do a far better job of convincing people to come to your restaurant if you have high quality food photos and or a professional food photographer.
However, not any old photo will do because food often doesn’t photograph well. What seemed mouth-watering in person, can look bland and even unappetizing when hastily photographed. This is why either hiring an experienced food photographer or putting a lot of thought into your own efforts is so important.
Because your restaurant website design efforts should focus on converting visitors into customers, a visual element in the form of outstanding photography of your food and ambiance is essential. Here are eight photography tips for producing professional quality images:
Use good lighting
Natural lighting coming down from behind (backlighting) gives the food more texture and makes it glisten. The backlight will also make the steam rising from the dish more visible and emphasize that the food’s freshness. By contrast, front lighting doesn’t produce shadows and therefore gives food an unappealing flat look. Flash photography also has a flattening effect on the food and produces harsh lighting. If you are looking to market your restaurant’s food in the “best light” so to speak, it has to be done in just that.
Make the food the star of the show
The food should draw the eye rather than the dish or the table that it sits on. White plates and bowls don’t compete with the food for your attention. They also give an impression of cleanliness and show off the food’s natural colors. Other colors that contrast with but don’t overwhelm the food also work well. If the choice enhances the food presentation, go with it.
Photograph food quickly
As the minutes go by, sauces cool down and congeal, salads wilt, and meat stops sizzling. Rather than spending time finding the perfect shot, quickly take multiple pictures covering different angles. You can select the best photos later.
Use props for dull food
Some types of food such as purees aren’t much to look at. Use an appropriate garnish to add interest to the photo. The garnish should contrast with the food by adding a splash of color. Another technique is displaying the raw vegetable ingredients on the table next to the finished dish.
Avoid images of partially emptied plates or pots of food
The food residue clinging to the walls of the pot or plate surface makes the food look messy or partially consumed.
Avoid distracting image elements
Be careful not to clutter your food shots with too many items such as candles, flowers, silverware, and other food. Limit the shot to a single plate of food and the aforementioned props when needed. This means the food dish should occupy the entire photo.
Display your restaurant’s ambiance with images of its interior
A good burger tastes the same whether consumed in your car or at a restaurant (admit that you know this). However, the two experiences are far from equal. Ambiance is second only to the food in a restaurant’s appeal and marketing success, and for some, it’s the primary reason. A bright sunlit interior works well for restaurants serving breakfasts and lunches, while a dimmer but warmer lighting of lamps or candles convey the right dinner atmosphere.
Don’t shy away from image post processing
If you have experience using image processing software such as Photoshop or know someone who does, you can brush out small mistakes, sharpen the image, and enhance the colors a bit. A popular and free open source alternative to Photoshop is Gimp. Image processing is a useful skill because it makes the photography process more forgiving of mistakes. Use the above restaurant quality photography tips to produce professional looking images for your restaurant website on your own. Take your time, be methodical, and don’t settle for mediocre shots that fail to do justice to your food. Unlike you, your website visitors won’t know that the images were a photography problem rather than the result of mediocre food preparation. It’s not always something you can just pull off on your own so you might find that an investment in a pro photographer can be well worth it and produce a better ROI than you might imagine. If you have any questions about restaurant website design, professional food photography or of course, a branded restaurant online ordering system, don’t hesitate to contact us!