At the time of writing, there are 417,543,887 posts on Instagram using the hashtag #food.
There’s a reason for this: people can’t get enough of food photography online, and if you’re a restaurateur, this is incredibly good news. But you need to be hot on this topic, because research suggests that 30% of 18-35-year olds would avoid a restaurant if its Instagram presence was weak.
5 reasons your restaurant needs great photography 📸
People spend an average of 28 minutes on Instagram every day. But that’s not the only reason your restaurant needs great photography.
The main reason is because the basics of what make us human never changes. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, the fact still remains that we retain 65% of information we’re presented with - if it’s paired with imagery (it’s just 10%, otherwise).
So, why does your restaurant need great photography?
1. It makes the best possible first impression
A photo really does say a thousand words. How many times have you been tempted to buy something based on the photo alone? Without any words, it made the best possible first impression.
Imagine if the same photo made a bad first impression. Let’s say the angle was off, the lighting was dim and the product itself was obscured by something else; would you still have bought it?
2. It’ll increase sales
Read the above two paragraphs again.
A great photo will sell your restaurant’s food to people - it’s as simple as that.
3. It tells a story
Great marketing is all about telling stories people either want to read, listen to or watch.
With photography, you can tell a story effortlessly. More importantly, it’ll help you build the story behind your brand and create a narrative for everything you do, marketing-wise.
Photos should reflect what your restaurant is all about and appeal to the emotions of your target customers. They should tell stories people want to keep diving into.
4. It can be repurposed endlessly
One of the best things about photography is that it can be repurposed endlessly across all of your marketing channels and strategies.
Just one photo can be used on social media, within the pages of your website and printed loud-and-proud for your traditional advertising. There are few other forms of content that can be used in the same way.
5. It builds trust and credibility
If you rely on stock images for your restaurant marketing, you’ll look like everyone else. Worse, you won’t look authentic at all, and that’s no way to build trust with your audience.
By instead investing in professional, unique photography, you’ll look far more credible. When people enter your restaurant or have their food delivered to the table, they’ll see those photos come to life.
It’s one of the best ways to start the customer journey and come good on your promises. Trust us - that’ll create a lasting impression.
When it comes to the various marketing campaigns you’ll call on for your restaurant marketing, they all have one thing in common. They need great photography. And now, more than ever, it’s one of the most important investments you can make for your business.
Back to basics: what makes a great photo?
People will form an impression of your restaurant’s photography in just 50 milliseconds.
With that in mind, let’s consider what makes a great photo. These tips apply to all kinds of photography, and are perfect for beginners who want to understand how to make food and venue photos ‘pop’.
The right subject: Some dishes don’t need to be photographed. Others demand to be snapped. You’ll know when you need to take a photo of something for your restaurant, because you’ll know it’ll communicate something to your audience.
A great composition: Simply pointing and shooting doesn’t work for restaurant photography. You’ll need to stage photos of dishes and ensure images of your venue are taken at the right angle and with everything important in frame. Don’t forget about focusing the viewer’s eye on whatever it is you want to draw their attention to (the rule of thirds will help here).
Plenty of light: Whether it’s manmade or the work of Mother Nature, light will make or break your photos. Ensure your subject is well lit from all sides, or dramatically lit if you want to create intrigue and suspense.
No filters: Just… don’t. If you get the three elements above right, you don’t need to slap on a garish Instagram filter in an attempt to make it look great. It won’t.
You’ll notice we didn’t once mention the type of camera you need in our tips above. That’s because while you obviously need a camera when undertaking your own photography, the one you have with you is always best.
Focus instead on the elements above and you’ll grab an Insta-worthy snap every single time.
Examples of amazing food photography
Clearly, one of the most common things you’ll be photographing for your restaurant is the food.
To get you inspired and to help you borrow an idea or two from the best in the business, here are five brilliant examples of food photography in action.
1. Simple composition, and homely food brought to life
2. Who says a photo of pasta needs to be boring?
3. Angles, props, and lighting can be the key
Should you take photos yourself or use a professional photographer?
This is entirely up to you, because it depends on two things: your budget; and the time you have available.
If you’re not too worried about either of the above, it makes sense to invest in the services of a professional photographer. They’ll take your ideas and bring them to life. Better still, they’ll probably come to you with the ideas.
However, if either one of the above (or, both) is lacking, you can do an awful lot yourself in-house. Just refer to our tips above for creating the best images, and keep experimenting - it’s fun!
Leaving it to customers: how to encourage customer content on Instagram
Of course, one of the best ways to up your restaurant’s photography game is to encourage others to do the hard work for you.
This is where your customers come in, but they won’t simply start taking photos for you without any encouragement.
Leave subtle hints on tables to encourage people to take photos of the food they’re eating, and create your own hashtags for them to use, which relate to the restaurant.
The best way to do this is to delve into the best hashtags for restaurants and begin using them yourself. The more active you are on the platform, the more likely your content is to be picked up by customers - and that’ll inspire them to do the same.
There’s also no harm in running occasional contests for the best Instagram snaps of your food or of people enjoying themselves in your venue. Give away something of low cost to you but high value to them (a free main, for instance), and you’ll quickly encourage quite a visual stir online that’s centred around your brand.
Before you go - don’t forget about video
We’ve focused solely on the importance of photography for restaurants in this guide, but video is equally (if not, arguably, more) important. So, before you go, check out this awesome guide for creating great in-house video marketing for your restaurant.