4 Tips for Mouth-Watering Photographs of Your Menu
Taking a photo that reaches the senses takes more than just saying cheese
You see Instagram post after post of mouth-watering restaurant food and yet, when you’re adding images to your menu, you can’t seem to get the perfect shot. It doesn’t take a photography guru, but it does take a bit of preparation and knowledge to perfect the right shot.
While a professional photographer is ideal, there is no reason you can’t create delectable looking photos yourself. We’ve outlined some tips on how to get your menu updated with mouth-watering photographs that will get customers ordering double.
1. Pick the freshest ingredients
People tend to think that because the food is for a photo, and not for eating, that the ingredients shouldn’t be of the best quality. However, if the skin looks wrinkled, the lettuce looks limp or the fruit looks discolored, the camera will find it. If you’re stuck with what you have, try angling the camera in such a way as to not get the food’s bad side. It may seem obvious but it’s easy to miss. When you’re photographing menu items close-up even the smallest flaws will shine. Find the best ingredients you can, especially vegetables, and get them camera-ready!
2. Lighting is as important as ingredients
The backlight of the photographs is key to adding texture and making your food look appetizing. This is especially helpful for highlighting steam coming from food. When the picture is lit from behind, steam and smoke will show up more prominently. While it seems minor, even angling the light a different way can drastically change the appeal of your images.
Try to use natural light when possible, but don’t point the camera directly at the light. The ideal lighting is a shady spot on a sunny day. Whatever you do, don’t turn on your flash. Flash photography will be too harsh, creating unforgiving reflections and glare. If you’re shooting indoors, we recommend setting up during the day, near the window but out of the range of direct sunlight.
3. Be quick
Imagine the food is your talent, preparing and waiting in the green room before you are ready to begin. Let your talent stay there until the absolute last minute. Food can only keep its appetizing appeal for so long. You’ll want to be prepared and able to shoot as quickly as possible before the food melts, wilts, changes color or dries out.
This requires knowing what you want to achieve and how you want to shoot the food before it arrives. You should set up the shot completely before the food is ready. You might want to consider even substituting a stand-in plate to get your lighting, exposure and angles right before you’re ready for the real thing.
4. Pro tip to enhancing the look of your food
Your food should look mouth-watering, but shouldn’t be edible by the time you’re done filming. Brush vegetable oil on your meats and vegetables to make it glisten in your shots. The more you pour on, the more your photos will shine.
These tricks of the trade will go a long way to making your menu items look as good as it tastes. For more on improving menu items and profit margins, The Profit Recipe provides free resources to help sustain and grow your restaurant’s success. Perfecting your menu photography is an important step, but it doesn’t stop there.