Food Photography Tips: How To Create High-Quality Photos For Restaurant Marketing

How To Create High-Quality Photos For Restaurant Marketing
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

How does a photograph capture the aroma of freshly brewed coffee? The sweetness of ice cream melting on your lips? The cozy atmosphere of New Year’s vacations or the inspiration of an upcoming trip to the sea? The main task of a food photo – is to whet the appetite and a desire to try the dish. But for that to happen, it doesn’t suffice that it looks delicious. People need emotions – they will buy something that “hooks”, surprises, and excites. 

Also important for creating the perfect food shot is post-processing the photo. At Skylum’s blog, for example, you’ll find all the information you need about the photo editing apps for Instagram that will help you do just that. So, let’s move directly to our topic.

How to Organize a Food Photo Shooting Process

Preparing for the shoot begins with a study of the brand because food photos are part of the company’s identity. That’s why pictures have to be taken in the style of the brand: they should translate the philosophy, mood, and atmosphere of the establishment. 

To understand that the client and you see the concept of future photos, in the same way, you can use references – photos of food and interiors of third-party venues that are similar to what the client wants to see in the end. Examples of photos will be a starting point in drawing up your TOR.

When Should You Photo Shoot

A photo shoot of food dishes can take anywhere from a few hours to a week. The timing depends on the specifics of the food and its quantity. For example, candy doesn’t go bad for a long time; you can take it with you and shoot it in the studio. A shredded tomato, on the other hand, turns into “mush” in a few minutes.

The more time passes from the moment of preparation, the less appetizing the dish becomes: the vegetables and fruit get stale, the herbs wither, and the soup gets cold. The shooting of such dishes should be scheduled literally by the minute. For this purpose, it is necessary to agree in advance with the cook what dishes, in what order, and by what time will be ready.

Project Team

Not only a photographer works on a food-shooting, as customers sometimes mistakenly think.

  • The producer coordinates the processes. He is responsible for the studio, props, the choice of photographer, timing, and the overall success of the shoot.
  • The marketer thinks through how the photos can be “tied in” to promotional mechanics and how they can illustrate the brand’s offerings.
  • A content manager decides how to integrate the photo content into the feed: link photos together meaningfully so that they look logical, and create appropriate textual content.
  • A food stylist thinks through the subject, looks for advantageous sides of food, in a word, develops visual positioning.
  • And the photographer takes the shot.

Ingredients for the perfect frame

So what does it take to create the perfect shot? Let’s look at it step by step.


Inexperienced photographers like to pack as much as possible into the frame: there’s the cappuccino cup, the keyboard, the cat, the cherry on the cake sprig.

But competent composition allows the viewer to concentrate on what you want to show him. In order not to distract attention or create a “mush” of objects in the photo, make sure you line up the frame correctly.

A photo should have an “entrance” – a point, that first “catches” the eye of the beholder, then slides over the objects and smoothly finishes its way through a still life. As a rule, people look “in a spiral” or follow the trajectory of geometric figures with their eyes. Don’t forget the rules of the golden ratio, either.

Food is the main focus of the photo

The emphasis of this type of photography is on food, which means that nothing should distract from the dish. The tableware can be plain and monochrome, different in color from the dish.

If you want to emphasize the color of the food, use a dark background. Gray will look neutral, and white will maximize the focus on the details.


The dish in the frame must look real, not artificial. There are many jokes about how the food in commercials is often inedible. In some cases, it is not food at all: glossy chicken smeared with shoe cream; pancakes dipped in machine oil; a huge layer of wax that makes fruit glossy. These tricks have long been unraveled by attentive viewers and cause distrust and negativity.

However, some dishes don’t look appealing in the frame. A Smoothie of mango and basil, for example, looks like an ochre-colored slurry and evokes unpleasant associations. And the broccoli cream soup looks like a yellow-green muddy liquid on a plate.

To make an attractive shot, it’s worth shifting the focus from the dish itself to the serving. For example, a nice branded glass and a sprig of fresh basil.

Atmosphere and branding

It is important to convey not only the quality and taste of the food but also the atmosphere of the place. You can do this with details. It is important to remember that food photography is not art for art’s sake, but for commercial purposes.

In creating a shot, it is important to consider the philosophy of the brand, corporate colors, and elements of corporate style. People who see the mouthwatering dish in the photo should remember where that brightly colored cupcake is waiting for them.

Final Thoughts

Food photography sells not only food but also the atmosphere, a mood, or a certain experience – like sitting down with a good group of friends. That’s why a restaurant’s content shouldn’t be limited to just shooting food. It’s very important to use images of people and with their help convey the spirit of the place. I wish you delicious shots!