The Ultimate Guide to Improve Restaurant Food Photography – Tips and Tricks

Within the past few years, restaurant marketing has exploded with restaurants needing images to fill up their websites, and social media channels. It is in our human nature to judge bases on looks, especially when it comes to food. The better the food looks in an image, the more inclined people will be to visit a restaurant. Which means Long Island restaurants need their food photography to be top-notch. Food photography can be tricky, so Union Square Advertising is here to provide you with ten tips and tricks to take your restaurant food photography from good to great.

  1. Take Advantage of Natural Light: Shooting near a window is one of the best ways to use natural light to your advantage while photographing restaurant food. If you are not getting great natural light in one area, move around tables (if the restaurant does not mind), open or close blinds and curtains, shoot outside, do whatever is necessary to make the shot work. You will also want to plan the shoots out in advance, since the amount of natural light varies throughout the day, you want to make sure that you are shooting at a point throughout the day with optimal lighting.

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  1. Don’t Use a Flash: Restaurant is typically shot at close range to help highlight the dimensions and texture of the food, so adding a flash has some unintended consequences on your image. Using the flash can create glares, dark shadows, and harsh reflections in your image, which may make the food look less desirable.
  2. Wear a White T-Shirt: While it seems like an odd tip, wearing a white t-shirt is a great technique to use when photographing food. A white t-shirt can act as a reflector, redirecting light to your subject, adding light that is not too harsh. Another alternative to this trick is to bring a reflector with you to help add more light to the photo.
  3. Use a Neutral Background: When doing restaurant food photography, you want to make sure to highlight the colors that are on your plate of food. Using a colored background can take focus away from the food, making it look less appealing. Consider using light, dark, or wooden background to really make the food pop!

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  1. Remove All Unnecessary Items- It is common to have saltshakers, water glasses and menus on the table when you are dining at a restaurant, but these are items that you want to remove from the table in restaurant photography. The fewer items on that are on the table, the better. If the table it too cluttered it will confuse the viewer’s eye, making it harder for them to focus on the intended subject of the photo.
  2. Add in a Human Element: Having a human element in your photo, such as someone holding a drink, or a dish adds emotion and action to the photo, which will help draw people in, enticing them to visit the restaurant. The more enticing the photo, the more inclined people will be to come to your restaurant. These actions can include a drink being passed, drizzling a condiment on the food, or putting a chip in dip.
  3. Mix Up the Angles: Not all food photographs well at the same angle. Some food looks better shot from above, others look good from a 45-degree angle, and others photograph well from the side. Switch up the angles to make sure you get a shot that works for your subject. Here are a few general rules to consider when photographing food:
    • Straight on shots work best for food that has height and layers. This can include burgers, sandwiches, tall beverages, and cakes.
    • Diner’s view, or a 45-degree angle, is the angle in which you would view the food if you were sitting down and being served at a restaurant. This angle adds depth and texture, making it the perfect angle to shoot items such as a bowl of ramen, or shorter drinks like a cocktail or a cup of coffee.
    • Top-down shots are best for food that is flat, or a collection of dishes. So, if you are shooting pizza, charcuterie boards and shots with multiple dishes, you may want to consider getting a few shots from this angle.

Keep in mind, that there is always exception to these rules, so make sure you are taking shots of each dish at multiple angles.

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  1. Work in Triangles: This tip works best when you are shooting multiple dishes. Triangles then to create structure and simplicity in a photo, giving the photo balance. So, when shooting multiple dishes arrange them in a triangle to make the photo more naturally dynamic, making the viewers eye bounce back and forth between each dish.
  2. Take Advantage of Your Surroundings: In restaurant food photography, you want to make sure that you also show off the restaurant, which allows you to get creative with your shots! If it’s a New York restaurant located on the beach, make sure you include some shots outside! Show off the place so that your customers can get a sense of the restaurant’s vibe. Not to mention, beautiful spaces in the restaurant serve as a great backdrop!
  3. Follow the Rule of Thirds: You want to try to not stage the food front and center in your shot because items are more appealing to the human eye when they are off centered. These shots can be created by imagining that the frame is divided into three horizontal and three vertical sections making an even grid, or enabling the grid setting on your camera the picture and placing the food in the in a section outside of the center of the photo.

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With a little practice and following these tips, you can make the food look more desirable than ever to get new customers in the door!

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