Food photography is a notoriously tricky skill to master. But it’s an absolutely essential component for virtual kitchen brands. With fierce competition and online food delivery platforms offering diners so much choice, you need to tantalise taste buds before customers have even placed an order!
It’s been shown that menu items with images next to them (compared to those without) have an average increase of 6.5% in sales. What’s more, photo-based menus on food delivery platforms increase overall conversion rates by 25%.
Great food photography creates atmosphere, sets expectations and is the key representation of your products and brand. Done right, it can set you apart from competitors. Done poorly, it can put off potential customers for good. So let’s get straight into some of the main photography do’s and don’ts for your food franchise.
Keep it realistic
Food photography should of course be tempting and professional, but make sure it also offers a realistic representation of your dishes. There’s nothing more disappointing than a restaurant making big promises of succulent, beautifully prepared food – then failing to deliver!
On a similar note, avoid stock photography and treat your images like a store window. With an accurate understanding of what they’re ordering, customers will be more likely to leave good reviews and reward your business with repeat custom.
Now this doesn’t mean automatically going for the quirkiest presentation you can find – but the personality of your virtual kitchen brand should shine through. Customers are always looking for unique experiences, so what do you offer that your competitors don’t?
Think about the background detailing, branded items, colours and descriptions to create a specific atmosphere. Whether your food franchise is aiming for refinement, laid-back humour or health-conscious cuisine, tell this story with images!
Invest in equipment
You don’t have to spend loads of money on professional photography equipment – but a few poorly-lit snaps on your old iPhone might not cut the mustard.
Consider purchasing cheaper items that really make a difference. LED lights, as well as reflectors / diffusers (you can even purchase mini studio boxes for under £20) will take your photography to the next level.
Lighting is a vital element of good food photography, and one aspect that you can’t afford to ignore.
Soft natural lighting is best for appetising shots. Avoid using flash at all costs, and also watch-out for overly harsh shadows or exposures. If you don’t have great natural light, this is where equipment such as LED lights and diffusers would come in handy!
To keep your food photography realistic – avoid overusing photo-editing software.
There certainly are a lot of excellent, free tools out there (such as Photoshop Express, GIMP and Pixlr) which can be used to great effect. Just be careful not to overdo it with things like colour saturation and filters. Your food may start to look fake and put-off potential customers.
Forget your angles
We’ve all seen stylish Instagram accounts with food consistently shot from above and impeccably sophisticated styling. Whilst this may be great for social media, it’s not always as good for takeaway menus.
So play around with angles, getting as much variety as possible. Utilise the rule of thirds (so your food isn’t always right in the centre) and shoot from different levels. A combination of close-ups, medium level and master shots (with branding or tableware included) will provide a memorable view of your restaurant franchise and food.
For more inspiration and expert advice on taking your restaurant franchise or ghost kitchen brand to the next level, check-out the Peckwater Brands blog. From getting to the top of food delivery platforms to driving repeat custom and omnichannel selling – stay one step ahead of the competition.