The power of quality food photography

A 3 minute read, posted Paul Dean on 6th September 2023.

The power of quality food photography

As the old saying goes, "You eat with your eyes first". 

Any restaurant's menu pages are the heart and soul of their website. They are the pages most likely to convert visitors into paying customers, so it should go without saying that making them visually enticing is critical.

Since the dining experience frequently begins online these days, you really can't afford to overlook the value and impact that quality food photography provides.

In this article, we'll explore why good quality photography is such a valuable tool for any restaurant, and we'll provide practical tips to help you capture mouthwatering images of your own culinary creations!

Quality photography has the remarkable ability to transform an ordinary meal into something truly extraordinary.

Why food photography matters

  1. It's impactful: We're all visual creatures, and seeing a beautifully presented dish can create a desire for it. Great food photography can convey your dishes' texture, colours, and aroma in a way that a description never could and can help create an instant connection with potential customers.
  2. It's influential: Your potential customers often research restaurants online before deciding where to dine. High-quality photos of your food on your website and social media can significantly influence a potential customer's choice.
  3. It builds a strong brand identity: Your menu is a canvas for conveying your restaurant's personality and style. Whether you aim for rustic charm, contemporary elegance, or something in between, your food photos can help tell that story.
  4. It showcases your expertise: Food photography showcases your culinary prowess and creativity. It's a way to demonstrate your commitment to quality and presentation, which can help set you apart from your competitors.
A well composed photo can make all the difference...

The hidden power of food photography:

  1. It forges an emotional connection: Food photography can evoke powerful emotions. For example, a photo of a favourite meal can trigger a deep emotional connection, influencing a potential customer's decision to choose your restaurant over another.
  2. It's free exposure: Not only do diners love sharing their own experiences on social media, but we've found that Facebook and Twitter posts from restaurants that containing quality food photography receive much greater engagement, in terms of likes and shares. Creating sharable content extends your restaurant's reach and potentially attracts new customers.
  3. It informs your customers: Food photography is a visual guide for diners, helping them make informed choices. People who can see what they're ordering feel more confident, leading to higher satisfaction and fewer surprises.
  4. It increases people's appetite: In short, food photography done right can make mouths water. The visual appeal of your dishes can awaken the appetite of potential customers, making them more eager to dine at your restaurant.
A blurred background allows the viewer to focus on what's important in the photo.

Top tips for excellent food photography:

  1. Use a good camera: This doesn't need to be a high-end camera costing thousands. In fact, most smartphones have cameras that are easily up to the job. Just make sure your lens is clean!
  2. Good Lighting: Natural light is ideal for food photography. Position your dishes near a window or in diffused natural light to avoid harsh shadows. You can invest in a cheap ring light if no good natural light is available. Avoid under, or over-exposing your photos and ensure that your camera's white balance is correctly set so images don't appear too warm or cold.
  3. Composition: Use the rule of thirds to create visually appealing images. Experiment with angles, but try to keep the camera level. Overhead shots are generally reliable and can work well. Take pictures with the light source either to the side, or behind the camera — not in front.
  4. Props and Background: Choose props and backgrounds that complement your restaurant's aesthetic but keep clutter to a minimum. Cutlery, drinks, salt and pepper shakers, etc. Avoid using a scratched, stained or otherwise marked table — and ensure everything is spotless.
  5. Focal Point: Use a shallow depth of field to blur the background and make the food the focal point. You can enable 'portrait mode' on many mobile phones to achieve this effect.
  6. Ensure your photos are bright and sharp: Don't use pictures that are too dark, and avoid blurry images. Keep the camera still whilst taking photos, motion blur will cheapen your imagery. 
  7. Timing is Key: Capture your food while it's fresh and hot.
This image looks great, but it would be better if the whole plate was in focus. For best results, also check that your images not over or under exposed and ensure that the colour is accurate to real life.

Other useful tips:

  1. Fine-tune your pics afterwards: No matter how good the results are direct from the camera, they'll always be better after a few tweaks. Post-process images to enhance colours, exposure, and details, but avoid overdoing it.
  2. Be consistent: Whatever you do, establish a style and aesthetic for your food photos and stick to it.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Food photography is an art that takes time to master. Practice and learn from your mistakes, but
  4. Take your time: Rushing can lead to subpar results. Take the time to compose each shot, set up the lighting, and make any necessary adjustments.

In summary. food photography is a powerful tool for any restaurant owner looking to thrive online.

It's not just about showcasing your dishes; it's about creating an emotional connection, driving engagement, and filling your restaurant's tables.

By taking the time to invest in good food photography, you're not just capturing images; you're capturing the hearts and appetites of your audience, making it an indispensable asset for your restaurant's success.

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Paul DeanPaul Dean

Paul is the owner and lead developer at Easy Eatery and is also senior web developer at the award-winning Cardiff-based digital creative agency, Blue Stag

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