Nearly everyone has had the experience of ordering something from a restaurant menu and getting something that looked completely different from what they expected. With a photo, you might have avoided that surprise. Good photography can greatly enhance the restaurant experience – but it can also hurt you if you don’t do it correctly. To help you out, we’ve compiled some tips we’ve picked up from studying a number of restaurants and restaurant franchises.
1. Avoid Chinese Takeout Photos: Have you ever been to one of those takeout restaurants where the menu board is made up of a bunch of poorly lit, head-on shots of the food? That may work for cheap takeout, but it doesn’t do you any favors if you’re trying to sell expensive entrees.
If you’re going to have photos on your menu or website (or any other official marketing message), be sure the photos are well-lit, appealing, and shot from a more interesting angle than “straight-on from above.”
2.Don’t be afraid to add props or vary the background. A shot of pasta in the kitchen shows off the cleanliness of your restaurant and it makes for a more interesting photo. An image of a fruit-based dessert sitting next to a pile of the same fresh fruit conveys the message that your food is extremely fresh and homemade – even if it’s not. Big chains use this marketing trick often.
3. If you only wish to add a couple photos to your menu, pick menu items that are both photogenic and highly profitable. People tend to order more of what they see (if it looks good), so don’t waste that effect on a low-margin menu item.
4. Don’t be afraid to include non-food photos that evoke the overall image you’re going for. For instance, many wine country restaurants will include photos of nearby vineyards or olive groves. Other fine dining establishments like to include photos of the chef. Let your restaurant’s personality shine through.
5. Use photos for “extras” people might not always order. Special cocktails, desserts, and appetizers can easily be skipped, but a tempting photo can change that.
6. Get a photography student to help. If you’re not good with a camera or you don’t have the proper equipment, consider trading a gift certificate for photography services from a novice. You’ll get photos that are still very high quality, but you won’t spend an arm and a leg getting them.
7. Share, share, share! If you’re going to take the time to make good photos, share them. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are all great places to showcase your dishes.
Humans are visual creatures, and catering to that can greatly impact your bottom line. Make sure you’re equipped to provide photos that show your restaurant and food in a good light and you’ll see the benefits almost immediately.