5 Tips on Taking the Best Restaurant Food Photos
How to take great food photos to use in your menus and for promotion
It’s probably cliché to say, but food always looks better with great lighting. Having natural light helps highlight texture, color, form and presentation. In addition, it helps make food look more appetizing and appealing. The best type of light for taking food photography is natural light, so try and find a space next to a window. In terms of light angles, “Side and back lighting will give the best results as you get an even spread of light throughout your dish.” If natural light is not an option, bounce your flash off a wall. Be careful that your flash does not make the food look too harshly lit or too unnatural.
Make your food look even more appetizing and artistic by adding tasteful props around it. At the end of the day, you’re trying to take a shot that represents not only the dish itself, but your restaurant, as a whole. A dish on its own looks out of place. “There’s a difference between a bowl of pasta shot on white with no forks or napkins versus a bowl that was shot with moody lighting, on a beautiful wood surface with utensils that look straight out of the home of a Sicilian grandmother.” Try to organically tell a story when you take a photo of food.
Different types of dishes just look better in different angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taking photographs from several different positions. Oftentimes, you’ll have to mix your style up to capture the style of the food. However, whatever angle you shoot from, you want to always ensure that the subject (the food) shines over anything else in the shot. If you’re trying out creative angles, just be on the lookout for reflective items like cutlery and glasses. There’s nothing worse than glare from a prop that takes away from the main subject of a shot.
Let’s be fair, many a shot looks decent on-site, but can be turned incredible with a tweak here and there. It is important to get the most out of each photo with your preferred editor of choice, but “It is very easy to overdo it and end up with an unnatural looking picture.” You want your editing to enhance what is naturally in your shot and not to create something artificial. This will turn customers off as they might feel that your food does not look appealing without heavy editing. It’s best to keep things looking as close to natural as possible.
Ensure that you are comfortable and familiar with how your camera works. It is often a good idea to bring different lenses for a shoot as some shots look great with a macro lens and others will require something totally different. In terms of what camera to use, “a decent DSLR or a compact with full manual settings will start to make things better. Pictures taken with a phone are [okay] only if you post them on social media.”