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6 Tips for Great Food Photography

November 14, 2016


Do you have great pictures of the food your restaurant serves? Whether using them for a menu, a Facebook post, a tweet, or for a website, having great pictures of your food is a necessity for every restaurant. The prominence of sites like Yelp and Facebook only magnifies the need for restaurateurs to have and be able to provide current photos of the dishes coming out of their kitchen. A good photo of a dish can make someone curious; a great photo can elicit an emotional or physical response from the viewer. From making mouths water and stomachs growl to bringing back fond memories; great food photos can be a powerful marketing tool for a restaurant.


Hiring a professional food photographer can be expensive but today’s technology means that a chef or general manager or restaurant owner can easily take great pictures, even with an iPhone. Sysco Menu Services has compiled six helpful tips for taking great food photos that can help even the most novice photographer create delicious pictures.



Always pick the freshest ingredients

Food is often photographed really close up, so even the tiniest flaws will show. Look everything over closely and be ruthless about what ends up in the photo. If the skin of the vegetable looks wrinkled, scarred or damaged, don’t use it, or angle it in such a way so as not to see the bad side. Don’t use fruit with bruises or lettuce with brown edges. Never use food that is overcooked for photos. In fact, food that is undercooked generally photographs better.


Lighting is everything

Poor lighting can make food look unappetizing, especially under florescent lights or direct flash. The texture of food is all-important when it comes to capturing a great image. Backlighting is a key technique that will help show off texture and angles of a plate while also allowing hot dishes to appear in the image as steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind. Daylight is really the best source of light, so set the plate by a window or even take it outside.



Use simple props

Give attention to your food and bolster its presence by adding simple plates, cutlery and even raw vegetables. If a rustic look is desired, slabs of wood, bark, or slate can provide this.  Fresh herbs, chili or peppercorns also make fantastic extra props. Featuring darker food on lighter plates and lighter foods like fish on darker plates can create contrast allowing the food to be more noticeable. For plate selection, stick to non-patterned plates and bowls so as not to distract from the food.


Add a human touch

Just bit of a human touch can make your photograph more appealing to viewers. A hand stirring a pot, holding a plate, or seasoning a dish implies fresh preparation and also shows scale. This also adds an element of movement missing from most food photography.


Vary camera angle

Plates shot from directly overhead tend to look one dimensional. Experiment with different angles of view like tilting, shooting the edge of the plate or table and so on. Try both landscape and portrait or hold your phone/camera at a diagonal angle. Make sure the background is uncluttered or out of focus to ensure that the food is the star of the photo.


Pour some oil

Want your food to look extra fresh? Vegetables will glisten when you brush on a bit of olive oil making a beautiful photograph. If it’s a salad, sprinkle some water on top to enhance the freshness. Shiny, glistening food always looks more appealing than dull or faded food

Now that you’ve taken a great picture, let Sysco Menu Services add them to your menu or create a table tent to really feature the item. Reach out to us at 800-380-6348 or email at info@syscomenuservices.com to work with one of our industry experts.

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