Outstanding food photography is a hard-earned skill, which is why talented people are lucky enough to get paid for it. Smartphone cameras have made it a lot easier for restaurant owners to get in the game these days. A smartphone can yield gorgeous, high-quality images that are easy to share to your website and social media platforms.
The only things standing between you and mouthwatering food photos are knowledge and practice. Here are some of our tips.
Food looks best under soft, natural lighting. Snapping photos next to a window in your restaurant during the day is the best place to start. Avoid shooting food in direct sunlight because it can cause harsh shadows.
Never use your camera’s flash. Trust us, just don’t.
Shoot in the front of the house. It’s where your food is going to be enjoyed. It also allows you to set the ambiance with things like signature drinks, wine glasses, and napkins on the table.
Get inspired. Scroll through food photography accounts on Instagram to get ideas. Also, look at what restaurants similar to yours are posting.
Trying to find the best angle? For dishes like soups, pasta, or salads, shoot directly over the dish to capture the textures and colors. For burgers or sandwiches, shoot the item at the angle in which it would be eaten – as though someone was seated at your restaurant and looking at that plate as it was placed in front of them. Also, if it’s a burger or sandwich, cut it in half to capture the good stuff.
When posting to apps like Instagram, find filters that enhance the colors of the dish while keeping an authentic quality.
Pair foods with contrasting textures for a dynamic photo, like soup and fresh, green parsley.
Take several photos, making small adjustments to your angle and closeness each time to give yourself lots of great options to choose from.
The final tip: don’t overthink it. While it’s helpful to look at stylized magazine shoots for inspiration, great food photography isn’t reserved for professional food stylists only. In an interview with Popular Photography in 2012, Jeff Kauck, a Chicago-based photographer said, “Food photography can get overly graphic or overly simple or this or that, the important thing is that you never lose that appetizing quality. Go ahead and Instagram it or shoot it with lights, either way, the question is, does it make your stomach growl? That’s what I think is really important.”