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phone vs. professional photography

Lots of small restaurants use their phones to take and share photos of their food. Which might be fine, but they are also putting money behind these images in paid advertisements. In restaurants today, there seems to be an unspoken battle of phone vs. professional photography. We want to share with you a couple of reasons your iPhone images might not be getting the job done.

What is the best lighting setup for food photography?

Natural lighting is great for quick snap-shot style photos. I love natural lighting and use it for more casual shoots. However, the value that a professionally lit food photo adds to your images is undeniable. Professional lighting removes the guesswork out of the images. If you can find that perfect natural light, iPhones take pretty good photos. But, when you send out marketing material do you want to leave potential customers thinking, “that looks pretty good” or “that looks amazing.” Elevate your business with images that look like they belong to a 5-star establishment.

phone vs. professional photography

How can you intrigue more customers?

While your cell phone camera may be getting better, some features just aren’t there yet. For example, quality macro photos with a DSLR camera show off the details of a dish. They can be used to highlight a specific ingredient or really show off the layers and texture a menu item has.  These photos might not always be best for a menu or marketing display. But you shouldn’t shy away from sharing a few like this to make people really crave a bite!

Professional photography

Are the photos on your phone getting boring?

Most people would only think to take a photo of a menu item very strategically.  Shown as it is served, from a seated position or overhead. However, professional photographers can take the time to get a little creative. We understand how to make the shots more dynamic with food styling and plating, capturing action, or adding props.

Professional photography

Isn’t it expensive for professional food photography?

One of the biggest things to deter professional food photography is the fear of the expense. Why pay for something you can do yourself. This may be the sole reason for selecting your phone vs. professional photography. But you already wear so many hats within your business, why try to add more to your plate. It has been proven time and time again that great food photography draws in customers and drives sales. As a restaurant owner, your passion is the food and the center of why you do what you do. Therefore, showcasing your food in the best light is the marketing that you should be spending the most money on.  Check out a few tips on planning professional photoshoots here or contact us today for more information!

Professional photography

In conclusion, food photos on a phone are a great way for the customers to share their experience with your restaurant. As a restaurant owner, it is your job to draw customers in and give them an experience you can be proud of. That’s exactly why our goal is to showcase your food with a little styling and creative direction that you will be proud to market to all of your customers.

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Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

There is a lot more to planning a professional food photo shoot than you might think. It takes careful planning to create the restaurant advertising that you see on billboards, flyers, social media and much more. Here are a few steps a photographer or agency should implement to help make the photo shoot more efficient.

Clarify the Message

The first step when planning a professional food photo shoot is to understand what message your client wants to send. You can do this by conducting a meeting prior to the shoot.  Whether they are highlighting a new menu item or launching seasonal items, make sure you understand their goals. It is the photographer’s job to make sure the message is clear in the photos. In addition, make sure that you understand the brand’s color story. For example, we frequently photograph Papa Gyros and always use their signature blue as accents and keep their authentic Greek traditions in mind.

Add Visual Interest

Once you’ve covered the previous step, it’s time to think about props. Understanding your message will help you determine what props you’ll need. If you want to showcase a new menu item, you may just want a clean wood cutting board. If your goal is to have more customers dine in, you may want to use a clean white plate, napkin, nice flatware, and a beverage. This will help to create the feeling of the customer dining in at your restaurant. Keep in mind, it is always a good idea to have extra props and accessories to add or take away from any scene.  

Background Elements

You understand your message, you have props, but how will you choose your background? I wanted to showcase a couple of different options that we have found work really well.  

Standout

First, just a simple black background really makes your menu item pop out.  The eye can fully concentrate on the details of the food as there are no competing elements to distract. This is a great idea for new menu items or menu items with a lot of visual interest. (Check out all the layers one that burger!)

Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

Ingredient Accents

Another great way to showcase a new menu item is with ingredient accents. This gives the customer a way to almost see a before and after. Visually seeing the finished product lets them feel behind the scenes and apart of the process. It also highlights the fact that you use fresh ingredients like displayed in the two examples below.

Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

Appetizers and Entrées

This choice creates a scene and a sense of being with a group of people (or in this case, a Fiesta!). You can still highlight one menu item but adding appetizers and additional entrées burred out of focus (bokeh) in the background. This is a very visually interesting style and can be very fun and colorful depending on your food or plate ware.

Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

Restaurant Environment

Similarly, this background type relies on good bokeh!  With the menu item as the main focal point, the background becomes a blurred out showcase of your restaurant. In the pictures below you can see the bar taps and some of the elements that make Roosters Canton a fun, casual place! It creates interest in the photo without distracting from the main menu item.  

Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

Seasonal

Last but not least, seasonal backgrounds can be really fun to create as long as they don’t stray far from your brand. In these examples, you can see some seasonal elements like pumpkins/pinecones or the plaid picnic cloth (still featuring that beautiful bokeh). They obviously are not the object of the photo but they help to convey the message that it’s the holiday season or summertime and Old Carolina Barbecue Company has a new entree for everyone to enjoy!

Planning a Professional Food Photo Shoot

Which background option will work best for your business? Well, first you need to take time to nail step one and two. Or better yet…have experts, like us, do it for you! We have plenty of experience planning a professional food photo shoot. Check out our full photography portfolio, then head over to our contact page to get ahold of us today.

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Restaurants owners have more on their plate than ever before. The “to-do” list is never-ending to ensure your business is successful. But when was the last time you crossed off a list item that will help you long term and not just right now.  The benefits of professional food photography are one of those long-term list items and let me tell you why.

Highlight Items

High-quality professional photos of your menu items allow you to showcase your food and make customers crave what you’re selling. Its common practice in the restaurant industry to draw the eye of customers to dishes that are best known, most delicious or are most profitable. To do this you must use the benefits of professional food photography.

Professional photography
Professional photography

Whether you want to highlight a signature menu item or a new offering, you need to use photos that will drive traffic to your establishment. Have you ever launched a new menu item that you thought everyone would love but it didn’t sell as well as you expected? If you didn’t use professional photography, the way your item was presented may not have been appetizing enough. Photos of deliciously styled food encourage customers to step out of their go-to orders and try new things. When you hire a professional food photographer, you are also hiring a food stylist. Together they know how to position your food to make it most appealing to your clients while also maintaining your brand integrity.

Marketing Material

Speaking of brand integrity, you will want a professional photographer to keep the photo style consistent with your brand so it seamlessly fits into your marketing material. Including photos on marketing material such as menus, table signs, billboard, etc. elevates your business quality. Showing your guest that you value the quality of the photos you market your restaurant with translates that you also value the little details. The ingredients that you source and the way you prepare menu items.

Graphic & web design

Online

Not only print marketing benefits from professional food photography but online marketing as well.  Your website should be the first thing that comes to mind with the use of your photos online. For example, a site we created for Los Girasoles (pictured below) displays large bright and colorful photos when you land on the page. These photos fit Los Girarasoles brand as well as enticing the viewer and making them hungry for a Mexican Fiesta.

Graphic & web design

But don’t stop there, use the benefits of professional food photography on your social media platforms. Stay top of mind with your fan base by posting regularly but also make them crave your food more frequently.  Delicious food photos make people hungry for what you’re offering. Have daily specials? Get people talking about them with posts that engage the viewer with delicious photos. Make them stop in their tracks and think about ordering dinner from your restaurant.

Benefits of Professional Food Photography

Now that we’ve made you sufficiently hungry are you ready to book your session with us? Head on over to our contact page and get in touch. Not ready yet? We’d love to hear what’s holding you back.

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With easy access to a camera today, it’s easy to think that a cell phone photo works perfectly fine to capture your business headshot. After all, why spend money on something you will rarely use and can do yourself? But, I’m going to explain why this is not the case and the 4 reasons for a professional headshot. 

1. Represent Your Brand

You should think of your headshot as an extension of your personal brand. What message you are trying to convey to potential clients? Is it that you are an expert in your field and take value in your business and career? A professional headshot will convey this message and will help you to align with your brand. If you work for a large organization, matching headshots create cohesiveness and builds trust with potential clients.
4 Reasons for a Professional Headshot

2. First Impressions are Everything

As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s easy to judge a book by its cover and the research proves it.  Check out this quote from the Association for Psychological Science:

“A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments).”

You have a tenth of a second for someone to judge you…just based on your face! A decent photo captured on your iPhone will not highlight you in the best light or give a professional impression.

3. Selfie vs. Professional

As you run your business, you may need to hire someone to prepare your taxes. However, you wouldn’t hire your mechanic friend to do this even though you trust your friend. You would hire an established accountant because they are an expert. Just like a professional photographer is an expert with lighting, composition, posing, and editing (we’re not talking about Instagram editing either 😉). If you want to be taken seriously in your profession the first step is to take yourself seriously and invest in yourself.

4. Where to Use

You should use an up to date, professional photo on all of your social media platforms and marketing material. Here is a quick list of all the places you can and should use your new professional headshot.

• Your website

• All social media accounts

• Linkedin

• Link to email/google

• Business card

• Marketing material



In conclusion, a professional business headshot translates trust, professionalism, and expertise to potential clients.  This is an investment in yourself that will help you to stand out and has multiple uses throughout your professional business. These are just 4 reasons for a professional headshot, but the list could go on and on. For a look at more of our professional headshots visit our portfolio or contact us today for more information.

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