And Where & How to Use Them

There’s a lot of bad marketing circulating around out there – and you know what all of it has in common (besides – likely – poor design, lack of target market research, and missing call-to-actions)? Unpleasant imagery. We know what you’re thinking… “photography costs a fortune!” – but that’s not always the case. And, what costs even more than any photo is losing customers over a bad one. There are ways to use good photography on your marketing without breaking the bank. Today, we’re going to explain why food photography is so important for your shop’s marketing, how you can get and use good photos, and, if need be – tips for (carefully and creatively) shooting your own.

Why Quality Photography is Important for Any Restaurant

Like we said above, losing customers to a bad photo or photos can be very costly. A not-so-delicious photo can make or break any marketing piece or campaign and deter customers from ever setting foot in your shop. Visuals are a huge part of what we choose to eat and where it’s from, because, like they say, we “eat with our eyes first.” When advertising with only speech or text, customers only remember 10% of what they see or hear, but, when advertising with imagery, they remember an impressive 65%. Additionally, it’s been found that 82% of people “would buy a dish just because of how it looks in the picture”. Quality food photos appeal to customer emotions, and are intended to trigger feelings of desire and hunger. So, make sure your imagery is eye-catching, impactful, informative, realistic, and of course…looks appetizing.

Good food photography of specific items can also help you sell those dishes you’d like to distribute more of. If you have a classic item that’s your best seller, make sure to spend the most on that item’s photography so that it can continue to be a top customer choice, and can be used on various marketing platforms. Or, if you have an item that’s struggling to sell through text but looks delicious, take a great photo and watch its sales increase. The right photos can be used in several areas – from postcards and menus, to social posts and website banners. And it’s not like you can only use a great photo once. So, if you think about all the places a good photo can go, it’s worth the time or cost to get it.

Lastly, food photography is a universal language – so no matter who’s seeing them, if your photos are appetizing, potential customers will be able to understand the intended message, whether they speak English, Spanish, or Japanese. It’s best to think of photography as one of your main points of communication with your customers, because, well…it really is. Sometimes, it’s the first form of communication they get from your shop altogether.

How to Get Quality Photos & Use Them in Your Marketing

If you’re not taking your own photos or utilizing a professional food photographer, there are a ton of options out there to get great food photography at varying prices. Websites like Pexels, Unsplash, Freepik, and Pixabay provide decent royalty-free, commercial-use stock images, free of cost. But, make sure to use these wisely and always check the fine print. Some photography sites will want you to give credit to the photographer in some way, or use the image only under certain circumstances.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more for higher marketing ROI, stock photo packages can be purchased on sites like GettyImages, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and others. You have the option to purchase a few individual photos – but that can get costly. We’d recommend going with one of the free sites above, or, if you have more photo needs, getting a plan that, for example, gives you 10 photos a month at a lower package price.

If you do hire a food photographer, you have a leg up on other shops. Why? Because food photographers know what to look for when it comes to selling food products. They have an eye for detail, know when it’s best to add something or take something out of the frame, and can edit your photos to delicious perfection. They also know that food is time-sensitive. They’re aware of the window that a food is still “live” – whether it has steam coming off of it, or has drips of sauce slowly falling down its side.

With a professional photographer, we’d recommend a one-time photoshoot (if possible) to cut costs and photograph your menu items, store, and maybe even your staff and the leaders of your shop all at the same time. We’d also suggest really planning ahead – not only to tidy up the store and make your food look great, but to make sure you photograph everything you need to, and that you don’t run over-time.

Lastly, it’s also an option to work with a marketing platform like us that can provide a variety of good photo options, and has the knowledge and expertise to advise you on best practices. Many platforms will offer a library of free photography with your subscription, or will assist you in deciding on the best photography option for your shop.

If You Have to Take Photos On Your Own, Here’s How…

It’s not the end of the world to have to take your own photos, since, these days, almost everyone has a mini professional camera right in their pocket. But just because we have better cameras doesn’t mean we have the skills of an experienced, well-versed food photographer, or know the best settings and angles to get the best shot. Yet, with a bit of research and effort, we can take some great product photos that will do the trick. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when photographing your offerings:

Camera Awareness: You don’t have to read a manual to get to know whatever camera you’re working with, but, the more expensive and intricate the camera, the more time you should take to practice your skills. Have a bit of fun and experiment a bit before doing an actual photoshoot with your menu items. Make sure you understand the effects and settings available to you and what will present your products best.

Camera Angle: When perusing restaurant photos online, you’ll most often see an aerial view angle (looking at the food from above) or a side angle (looking at the food as if it’s right in front of you). There are a ton of ways to take your photos, but “where you place the camera will affect the type of story you’re trying to tell.” So, think about what makes your food unique and tasty, and how it can best be framed to show these qualities. Avoid angles with too much slant, that are too close up, or that blur the wrong areas.

Detail: Before taking your photo, take note of the little things. Is your plate clean? Does the food look its best? Are all of the ingredients up to par? Does the dish match what the menu item truly looks like?

Background: Almost always, you’ll want your food’s background to be neutral and not in focus. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s the safest bet to make sure your dish is in focus and is the center of attention. If your shop is bright and colorful, it’s okay to have that as the background. Just make sure it’s not so busy that it’s distracting from the food itself.

Color & Lighting: When adding objects around your centerpiece (the dish) or creating some sort of background, make sure the color of your food pops. If need be, make some color edits to your photography using Photoshop, Lightroom, VSCO, or a similar photo editing platform. But – don’t go crazy. Keep your dish looking realistic and appetizing. Additionally, take note of the lighting. Feel free to get fancy and purchase professional lighting – but there’s often no need to. Natural lighting can often have great outcomes when it comes to photography.

Authenticity: We’ve already brushed the surface on this one – but it’s so important that it can’t be said too many times. Make sure your photography’s an accurate, authentic depiction of your offerings. There’s nothing worse than getting excited over a restaurant dish you see online, only to be disappointed by its appearance upon ordering.

Need help finding the perfect photo, or ready to take these practices and put them into great pizza shop marketing that’s simple and effective? Contact ZaHub to get started.