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Customers love mouth-watering food photography. Adding menu photos to your restaurant website, social media accounts and online marketplace menus can help boost your delivery and takeout sales. What better way to tempt potential customers to stop by your restaurant than by showing off the food that they could enjoy?
Want to learn more about how to take great photos and where to incorporate them? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dig in.
Why is restaurant photography important?
When a hungry person is looking for food, they generally have tons of options on the table. One valuable method to set your restaurant apart from the competition is through photography. According to Menu Cover Depot, professional photography is likely to boost your food sales by 30%, and any items that are photo features on your menu may see 6% greater sales than other items. That’s because food photography is a digital marketing tool that can help make your menu dishes come to life.
Digital marketing for restaurants is important when reaching potential customers, engaging with diners and increasing retention. A modern website and social media presence can help with brand recognition — and food photography is an essential part of both of those marketing efforts. If you want to gain more loyal customers, add digital marketing to your to-do list.
Adding eye-catching food photos to your website and social media can skyrocket impressions. If you’re not sure how to capture your menu items properly, continue reading to gain some tips and tricks.
How to achieve professional-level photography
Restaurants that have already made the switch from fully text menus to photos on their online ordering platform have seen increases in their conversion rates by about 25% on average — that means more website visitors who actually become customers. Check out these food photo suggestions and best practices to help take the first step toward attracting new customers of your own.
Food photos are only good if consumers can see the images clearly and if they portray your dishes in a positive light. The right lighting ensures you can show off all the yummy toppings on your signature brisket nachos and emphasize the freshness of the ingredients in your Greek salad.
Natural lighting is always preferable, with indirect light being more flattering than direct sunlight, but a light tent or strong artificial lighting can work too. Just watch out for shadows and try to avoid using your camera’s flash.
Professional photographers know all about the “rule of thirds.” Divide your photographic fields into thirds, putting your subject into the right or left third of the image and leaving the other two sections relatively clutter-free.
Also, be aware of the depth of field. Your dish should be in focus and it’s okay if items in the background like placemats or drinkware are a bit blurred.
Take your time arranging each dish. Prepare the plate itself by wiping the rim clean and checking for stray garnish. Add a spritz of oil or water to fresh ingredients to make them look dewy and juicy on camera.
Except in rare cases where you’re going for cuisine photos that are more about the vibe of your restaurant than information, food should always be stationary rather than captured in action.
Find an interesting background that won’t steal the show
Photos are more memorable when they include details beyond the plate of the food itself, however, be careful not to incorporate elements that compete with the main attraction. Choose utensils, cups, salt and pepper shakers and table vases that are clean and simple while contrasting the colors of the food. All props should be on-brand, too.
Feel free to use your accessories to show portion size. Avoid miniature salt shakers or demitasse spoons for that reason; even photos that are unintentionally misleading can feel like false advertising.
Find the right angle
Creating the right composition means examining angles. It’s always a good idea to play with your angles until you find one that makes your menu items look their absolute best.
Flat foods like pizza look best shot from a bird’s eye view, while stacked foods look better photographed from the side to show off the layers in all their glory.
Here are a few more suggestions on shooting food from an angle:
- Use a higher angle for bowls without going completely vertical so diners can see past the lip of the bowl but still get an accurate gauge of contents and portion size.
- If you have multiple dishes that are plated similarly such as appetizer platters or noodle bowls, shoot them using a variety of angles to keep your menu images diverse.
- Place sauce in small containers outside the basket to show scale and portion size.
Plating with a purpose means thinking about the containers you’re using and how much of a dish you ultimately show. For instance, pouring liquids into clear cups helps diners understand the color and texture of sauces and dressings.
Diners often prefer realistic images versus overly staged menu photos so they can imagine sitting down to eat. Imagine how you would present the dish to a diner in person and stage your photos to mimic that.
Capture food in its prime
Take photos of food right after it’s been prepared to take advantage of its natural colors and look. It’s much easier to make lettuce look crisp and fresh if it actually is versus switching out produce or trying to perk up wilting romaine.
Edit, edit, edit
Pay attention to editing, too. You can crop photos to fit into your menu or eliminate excessive white space to keep the focus on your dish. Play around with exposure and lighting to see if you can make certain colors pop. But remember, you don’t want your food to look artificial — this isn’t the time for artsy takes on comfort food (purple pot roast is not a tempting sight).
Look up professional photography tips — or just hire a professional
The internet is full of food photography tips offered up by industry pros who know exactly what it takes to make all kinds of cuisine look wonderfully appetizing — even if you’re taking those photos on your iPhone.
A few minor tweaks can drastically improve your images. Want even better shots? Try using a high-definition DSLR camera to boost resolution, which makes photos crystal clear whether they’re used on printed menus, online delivery apps or anywhere else on the internet.
For an even easier way to get professional menu photos, sign up with Grubhub Restaurants. Part of your membership includes access to a free professional shoot of your menu. That way you can showcase your dishes to customers without worrying about photography details.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to level up your photography skills, you need to use these photos strategically. But, what are the best ways to add professional-grade photos to your restaurant’s branding?
How to incorporate your restaurant photography
Every restaurant is unique, but one fact remains the same no matter what type of establishment you run: photography is vital for success. Entice customers and increase retention by adding photography to your restaurant’s menu and marketing efforts.
Food and drink menus
Think of cuisine photos as setting the stage or establishing a vibe. These images are generally taken close up, artistically cropped, and more abstract overall. You might use these photos on your menu as well as on your website and in restaurant marketing materials.
Menu photos, on the other hand, are zoomed-out snapshots of specific ingredients or entrée items so it’s easy to see and understand the whole dish. They accurately convey portion size and what components diners can expect should they order that dish. Menu photos are especially helpful on digital menus. If you are adding photos to your menu, it’s best practice to either have a delicious-looking photo of every meal next to every menu item, or choose a few of your most popular dishes to feature a snapshot.
Menu photos are helpful when people are trying to decide what to eat or if they’re unfamiliar with the type of cuisine you serve and need a better idea of what a specific dish entails.
Before you can sell people on your food, you have to get them through the door. A restaurant website that has high-end photos and videos of your meals is a great way to pique diners’ interest and make their mouths water.
When you partner with Grubhub, you get access to Direct, a commission-free, direct-ordering website for your restaurant. You can use Grubhub Direct as a platform to host your restaurant photos and boost online orders, all at no extra cost to you. That way diners can browse your menu photos and place an order all from one spot.
How can you benefit from professional food photography by Grubhub?
From infusing your existing menu with full-color photos to helping potential customers understand the intricacies of your signature dishes, Grubhub is here to help you take your menu to the next level.
When you partner with Grubhub for Restaurants, you’ll receive a dedicated account advisor who’s experienced in restaurant success and invested in driving your restaurant’s performance on the Grubhub platform. Not only will they schedule your free professional photo shoot, but they’ll also connect you to internal experts who can provide menu consultation services to fuel takeout and delivery success.
Want to partner with Grubhub and take advantage of our services for restaurants? Click here to get started.