Food photography tips for restaurants

November 29, 2022

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These food photography tips are proven to help restaurant owners get more sales. But most of them can also be used by food influencers to get more likes, or bloggers for more readers. In a nutshell, they’ll help you bring home the bacon (sorry for the food puns).

We’ll uncover some easy cream-of-the-crop food photography tips from our new Bolt Food photography guidelines to help make your pictures pop!

Learn the basics of food photography, such as choosing the correct angle, backgrounds, and technical aspects of lighting.

Let’s get into it. Lights, camera, action!

General guidelines for food photography

The angle

The most popular angle for food photography is 45° since it suits most dishes and lets you see the food from multiple sides. 45° is roughly the angle we see food when we sit at the table, so it feels natural and inviting.

But exceptions apply!

Layered foods like burgers are good to shoot from a table view angle, and the same applies to drinks.

For pizzas, any angle can be used (top view, 45°, etc.), and food in bowls is best captured from a 45° angle.

And to showcase sushi, you’ll need to choose an angle where the filling’s visible. 

So make sure you choose the angle which suits the dish the best!

TOP TIP! Fix the camera (with a tripod). Otherwise, each photo will come out at a different angle, and you’ll spend ages adjusting the set.

food photography tips burger

The composition

Sometimes, restaurants want to showcase their whole menu in one picture.

But as most people browse the internet on their mobiles, we recommend highlighting a single dish, as it’s easier to distinguish on a small screen.

Pictures on the menu should feature the same amount of food the customer will get.

For header images, focus on one or two of the most popular dishes that show what type of cuisine you offer.

Leave some space around the edges, especially if you use the picture on multiple platforms. This will prevent you from having to crop out part of the food.

The stylistics of food photography

The background

Suppose you’re photographing your mum’s homemade pastries for a food blog. In that case, using her knitted tablecloth may be excellent for setting the tone.

Otherwise, we recommend that backgrounds are minimal and are not competing for attention with the dishes on display.

We suggest a solid, flat background without patterned fabrics and textures, huge contrasts, table reflections or strong wood patterns.

A photo of a messy table may be appropriate when you blog about cooking with kids. But in a restaurant setting, it may come off as untidy.

There are few things more off-putting than unsanitary food preparation. So always ensure the food, tableware, and surrounding surfaces look neat!

food photography

Tableware

The serving dishes should complement the food without making the visual over-stylised and overwhelming. So opt for pastel and minimal tableware items.

And we recommend avoiding disposable dishes — especially plastic ones.

Lastly, replace empty glasses and items that make the picture crowded and carry no visual value with edible decorations.

Decorations

Use garnishes, spices, herbs, and other edible extras to enhance your food. But don’t overcrowd the picture!

For commercial photos, we recommend against using non-edible decorations like napkins, empty tableware, chopsticks, and cutlery.

Lighting

Food photos look best in natural daylight. Avoid heavy shadows and warm/yellow lighting and tones. Beginners should start with continuous lighting to see how the light hits the food.

PRO TIP! Choose a white balance of around 4500 – 5000K. We recommend using one camera flash + a reflector or two flashes.

Place your light sources at the sides of the table to avoid direct light, and use softboxes or white umbrellas to eliminate harsh shadows.

food photography soup

Technical aspects of food photography

It should go without saying that high-quality photos make a better impression whether they’re on your Instagram feed, blog, or website.

That being said, don’t go overboard!

Photos with large file sizes will slow down your restaurant’s website or blog. And this has multiple adverse side effects. Visitors may leave your site due to slow-loading pages, and algorithms might push you down the search results due to a bad customer experience.

The standard resolution for web images is 72 pixels per inch. If you’re using the world’s most popular website builder, WordPress, read more about using images in this article.

For more tips on improving your website to avoid losing visitors, read our blog post: does your restaurant need a website?

Time to put those food photography tips to the test!

If you’re a restaurant or store owner and finding food photography complicated — don’t worry!

If you join Bolt Food as a partner, we’ll set up your Bolt Food profile, provide you with all the necessary how-to materials, and help you with the photo shoot.

Sign up here as a Bolt Food partner if you’re ready to reach more customers, grow your sales, and increase your brand awareness.

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