The Difference That Professional Food Photography Makes
The Difference That Professional Food Photography Makes
Yum, right?? Warm, steamed jasmine rice, rich tikka masala, and fluffy naan bread topped with spices and herbs. Our stomachs are already growling, and it’s only the beginning of this blog! Looking at this photo is an experience. The ingredients, props, angle, and lighting tell the story of the dish and make you crave it.
Now, just for a second, compare the feeling of that professional food photo to these:
Not quite the same, right? The white background is bland and boring, and the plate is more colorful and interesting than the food! If we’re gonna get nitpicky, the dish on the left looks dry, and the one on the right doesn’t make sense… spoiler alert: this photo isn’t even a real dish (thank goodness).
Believe it or not, these photos are all from the same restaurant: our client, Masala Wok. They started out with the second set of photos, and thankfully they knew as well as we do that those weren’t working.
I mean, it should have been obvious; this photo doesn’t feature a real Masala Wok dish. Raw cucumbers, onions, carrots, and lemon slices as a side at Masala Wok… that wouldn’t happen in a million years. But we digress.
How Food Photos Increase Sales
Masala Wok contacted us for restaurant branding, and one of the first projects we guided them to was food photography. We knew the impact professional restaurant photography would make on their brand overall and how valuable the images would be to each of their marketing materials. We knew their photos needed to represent their brand and their food. Additionally, the images would be a major player in the creation of marketing materials designed to drive sales.
When you compare professional restaurant photography to an iPhone snapshot of unstaged food, it’s not rocket science to figure out which is more likely to make a sale.
For a restaurant, showcasing your core offering in its best light (literally) is a strategic investment you won’t regret.
Each image from your professional restaurant photography project can be used digitally and in print over and over, increasing the return on investment, so it’s really a no-brainer purchase for your marketing. Think of how many places you can put a great photo: on your menu, in your ads, on your restaurant interior, on your social, in your marketing, and more.
The Professional Food Photography Process
So how do we create the magic? Here are a few ingredients of a successful professional restaurant photography project.
We start by understanding your menu, and working with you to select the menu items that should be photographed.
Then we create a visual direction for the photoshoot that pairs with the brand direction we’ve created for the overall brand. To plan out the shoot, we create a mood board as a guideline for what the images should look like in order to best represent your brand.
The mood board includes setups we want to create and functions as a shot list. This is what we use as a reference checklist throughout the photoshoot to inspire each shot.
With our mood board as our reference, we create a shopping list of props that we need for the shots. The props that we gather are a big part of how we add the context of your brand into each photo. The style of plates, cups, bowls, silverware, serving utensils, spices and herbs, and more (we can’t give away all our secrets!) all showcase the brand and enhance the scene.
During this phase, we also design backdrops to set the scene for each photo. Different colors and textures give us variety for the shots and help us perfect both the vibe and the lighting for each photo.
With our mood board, props, and backdrops in tow, we plan out the schedule of the photoshoot day.
Typically, we set up inside the restaurant dining space where we can get the most natural light, using two tables for shooting and two tables for props. The first thing we do is set out all our props and perfect our lighting, getting accessories and backdrops in place for the first shots.
On the day of shooting, we work closely with the kitchen manager to organize the dishes we will need. Together, we communicate what dishes we will need to shoot and when so we can start shooting when they are fresh from the kitchen. We style each dish and get to snapping photos of each steamy, picture-perfect dish right as it comes out.
As part of the setup for each menu item, we plate and style each dish. We use fresh ingredients and garnishes, and apply sauces and sprinkle toppings right there before we snap the photo. While we’re photographing a setup, our food stylist is constantly adjusting the food to ensure that it’s perfectly placed for each shot.
Typically we spend 30 minutes per dish, nailing the setup, lighting, and photo angles, and shooting until we get the perfect shot. Once we’ve got it, we then clean the slate and prepare the table for the next setup. By keeping our schedule organized, we get photos of fresh dishes without stressing out the kitchen.
After a long day of shooting, we have a gallery of thousands of food photography images. We sift through them all and pick out the most compelling ones to share with you. Next, the editing starts. The first thing we do is check the white balance and color correct. Then, we assess the content of each photo down to the last crumb — literally — and make sure that everything in the shot looks intentional. Here, we edit out fingerprints, smudges, and stray crumbs that made their way into the photo.
Once the photos are edited, we share the files with you, and you have full rights to them.
This library of photos is a huge marketing tool for your business. The photos will capture your brand, your passion, and the beauty of each dish, making people hungry and attracting them to your restaurant.
Do you have a mouthwatering menu that deserves great photography? Don’t let your great menu be missed! Give us a call: 615-905-9936.