High-quality food photography is no longer something that is “nice to have” at your restaurant. It’s something that customers are beginning to expect, and it can generate impressive results for your business. If your restaurant is lagging behind on food imagery, here are some food photography ideas that can help you elevate the way you showcase your dishes — and your location and brand. 

Why Use Food Photography at Your Restaurant?

Food photography is a powerful tool for restaurants. Showcasing photos of your food better serves customers and can lead to multiple benefits for your business. Here are a few reasons why you should use food photography at your restaurant. 

  • People process visuals very quickly. Our brains are wired for visual stimuli. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the human brain can process entire images in just 13 milliseconds. Images help customers quickly absorb information and take in your menu offerings faster than if text is used alone.   
  • People like to see food photos on social media. According to Facebook, food and drink are the top interests for 43% of Instagram users. Showcasing images of your food can attract attention and drive engagement and interest in your brand. 
  • Food photos drive sales. DoorDash says adding high-quality photos to your menu can increase delivery volume by 15%, and Grubhub says it can increase sales of menu items up to 30%. Adding photos to your digital menus can encourage customers to order — and order more.
  • Seeing photos of food can change ordering decisions. A study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University found that salad consumption increased as much as 90% when a digital menu display showed a rotating image of the salad. By changing the graphics in your menus, you can lead customers to order more of what you want to sell (like high-profit menu items). 

High-quality food photography supports your business because visuals are easy to understand, enjoyable to view, and enticing to customers. 

3 Food Photography Ideas for Your Restaurant 

If your restaurant isn’t using high-quality photos or you’re getting ready to revamp your photo assets, keep these top food photography ideas in mind. These best practices will help you whether you are taking photos yourself or hiring a professional to capture a collection of visual assets for your restaurant. 

#1) Take platform-specific food photos. 

Your restaurant can use food photos in a variety of ways. Before you take any photos, consider how you will use the visuals. Where will they be placed and how will they be used? Knowing this information will shape your approach to your food photography. 

  • Online Ordering: High-quality photos on online ordering platforms can make your restaurant stand out in a listing of local restaurants and drive customers to add more to their orders. 
  • POS Systems: A restaurant POS can utilize photos on both the staff and consumer side of the technology. Photos of food can help staff place orders faster, while photos on self-ordering kiosks can drive more orders and help customers make decisions. 
  • Website: Featured food photos on a website can increase interest and help customers get an idea about what to expect when they visit your restaurant. 
  • Social Media Posts: Photos of food make great content for social media posts. Photos can drive new followers and encourage customers to come in for a visit. 

While you should have placement in mind when taking photos, that doesn’t mean you can only use the photos in one way. Always think about how you can repurpose your photos — such as using menu photos on social media — so you can get more out of your content. 

Related: PR for Restaurants: Top Tips to Use Public Relations to Drive Restaurant Growth

#2) Take consistently styled photos for your menu photos.

If you are going to use photos for your POS or online ordering system, plan a day to take photos of all of your food items. Set up a mini studio session in your restaurant where you can take photos that all look similar in style. This food photography idea will make all of your photos look like they belong in the same stream of images and create a consistent experience for customers as they browse through your menu.

  • Use similar lighting for each photo. (Use natural lighting with no flash.)
  • Frame photos from the same angle and distance.
  • Use the same style of plates and backdrops. 

Photographing all of your menu items is a big undertaking. For this investment, you may want to consider hiring a food photographer to capture high-quality photos. 

#3) Get creative with your social media photos.

Social media food photos don’t need to be as consistent as the images for your digital menu and POS systems. As you snap photos for social media, keep these food photography ideas in mind. 

  • Arm your staff with cameras, and train them to capture photos. Your social media manager might not be able to capture all of the great moments in your restaurant. Teach your team how to capture high-quality photos so they can share images with your social team. 
  • Incorporate action in your photos. Bring your photos to life by including hands grabbing for a burger or scoping up pasta with a fork. 
  • Mix in videos. Videos can increase engagement on social media so don’t be afraid to capture a few short clips that showcase your menu items with some real action. 
  • Share user-generated photos. Remember that your customers can also take great photos of your food. Check your tags and share user-generated photos from your social media accounts. Tag the photographer to show credit and your appreciation. 

Add Food Photography to Your Restaurant Marketing Mix 

These food photography ideas for your restaurant can produce high-quality images that attract, engage, and entice customers. Even if you aren’t ready to bring in a professional food photographer, consider how you can use these ideas to start snapping photos of your food that you can use for your digital menus, POS system, and social media channels. 

For more ideas on how to set up ordering systems that drive more orders and better experiences for customers and staff alike, talk to Lavu about our touchscreen POS system. See Lavu’s restaurant POS features in action and talk to our team about how we can upload your food photos and set up your digital menus for you. Request your free demo today.