Food photography that helps the food stand out is essential in the age of social media, where an image can be the difference between people visiting the restaurant and going to your competitor.
Have you ever seen a plate of food on social media or a restaurant’s website and immediately wondered what it would taste like? Restaurants and influencers create these images to evoke such reactions because they understand that our eyes play a crucial role in helping us select the food we would like to eat.
We are naturally drawn towards colourful, enticing food because our bodies have evolved to tell us it would taste great and be good for our health. If you own a restaurant, every photograph you take or post should entice people to want to experience your restaurant and its offerings. These food photography tips should help you elevate the image you post online.
A common mistake photographers and restaurant owners make when shooting food photographs is complicating things. While full plates with lots of colours can lead to great results, that is not always the case. Sometimes, simplifying what you put online can have the desired effect.
As you simplify your plates, consider using local ingredients. Check online to see what to include or avoid so your photographs stand out. For example, there are so many pictures of cake, rice, chicken, and strawberries online. Why not try something different and instead post ingredients that locals can find in your restaurant?
In many cases, people do not want complicated dishes and will gravitate towards something familiar. Leverage this by using local ingredients.
Also, shoot your food as soon as possible after buying it. A high-end camera will show the food is nearing its expiry date if it is, and if people look hard enough. A common tactic professionals use to avoid this issue if they have to delay a shoot is keeping the food in the fridge and covering it with wet towels. They then wash it before plating it so that it looks fresh and has water droplets on it.
A mistake many people make is plating cooked food at the start of a shoot. With complicated setups, framing, and alignment, it might take a few hours before you or the photographer starts shooting. By then, the food will look bland, and this will show in your photographs.
Instead of this, use a composition that is as close to the subject as possible. This way, you have enough time to line everything up and know how to plate the food before doing it. When you are ready, it will only take a few minutes to set everything up, and you might only need to make a few adjustments.
Social media and search engines are full of images you can use for your inspiration. We are not talking about taking images and ideas wholesale, but instead seeing what other people are doing and using that to create ideas for your unique photographs.
A great place to start is Instagram, where professionals, amateurs and diners do a great job of taking unique photographs that capture the eye of anyone who might come across them. You can discover lots of unique ways to plate and photograph your food and present drinks so potential customers become more likely to click on them.
Whether you are a restaurant owner or a professional photographer, always develop a brief before starting a photoshoot. It should be as detailed as possible and include the project’s goal, the target audience, the platforms you will publish the photographs on, and the tone you want to express.
If you can, send a few images to show the essence of the photoshoot and what to expect when everything is done and edited. Having an idea of what to expect will help the project go smoother and ensure your vision comes to life.
As a restaurant owner, you can ask for revisions to the brief if you feel the photographer has not captured what you had envisioned. Use an annotation tool to add comments and notes to the PDF brief you receive or convert it from PDF to Word to add comments to the file directly. The online conversion tool from Small PDF makes this easy, and you can help you convert bulky files in a few seconds.
If the photographer finds it challenging to understand exactly what you need after a few brief revisions, go on social media and create a collection of images for their inspiration. Discussing these with them can help them capture your vision better and help them make the best decisions on the day of the shoot.
The choice of a camera does not matter much in food and beverage photography because you or a photographer will be capturing still subjects under controlled conditions. However, you still need to know how to work with the camera so it can become a tool for capturing what you want.
If you are working with a full-size camera, pick a few lenses to see which ones will work best. Take a few photographs with each to see how the images will look before settling on one.
Also, pick a lens that can allow a shallow depth of field. This setting isolates the food (main subject) so that it stands out and draws the viewer in.
When doing this, try to capture unique details about their subject. For example, the food might have an interesting texture you would like people to experience through their screens and your images.
Since you are capturing a still subject, keep the camera as still as possible by using a tripod. Using one helps you avoid shakes that could make their way into your photographs. It also allows you to frame your shot and step back to observe everything. You then get a chance to adjust everything before clicking the shutter.
A tripod is also helpful if you would like to capture motion. It allows you to know where the camera is pointing at all times so you can do interesting things with your photographs and motion.
Sometimes it is a good idea to ditch the tripod once you have the shots you need to play around with the angles. Photographing your subject from all sides can lead to interesting results, and you may even love these photographs more than those you planned initially.
Even though the food should always be the main subject, you can use colour and props to make it stand out even more. The two ways to make the food pop are using contrasting colours and neutral tones. Contrasting colours create a vibrant dynamic that draws the eye to the photograph. Neutral tones, on the other hand, dull the surrounding areas and make the subject stand out.
The right choice between these two options is your goals for the photoshoot and the desired characteristics of the final images. Always think about what you want the final images to look like, and you will find making the right choice easier.
Food photography that helps the food stand out is essential in the age of social media, where an image can be the difference between people visiting the restaurant and going to your competitor. You can follow the tips above to end up with amazing images, but always consider hiring a professional if you do not have the skills or are not sure if you can create better photographs than those posted by other restaurants.
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