Take Better Food Photos

When preparing to take a photo, there are a few things you should take into consideration:

Find the best location for light in your restaurant. For example, this may be at a table by the window. Source: CentralDish
When you have your location, make sure the background is clean and simple. You don’t want a messy background. Source: CentralDish
Next, choose a few objects that will work with your dish. This could be some fresh produce, cutlery or maybe a wooden chopping board to present the dish on. This isn’t necessary but it does make the photo a little more interesting. Source: CentralDish

Once you have followed all of these steps, you can begin plating your food, and start snapping away!

Read on for more in-depth tips on how to improve your food photography.

Lighting

When taking photos inside a takeaway restaurant, the lighting may not always be the best. It may be too dark, too bright, or too orange. So how do you work with this kind of lighting?

DO

  1. Move the food to a better source of light e.g. by a window.
  2. Use natural light, if possible, but don’t face the camera directly towards the light.
  3. Make sure the dish is in focus (touch the screen of your phone to focus on the desired dish).
Left: This photo was taken in natural light — it is clear and bright. Right: This photo was taken under artificial light — the dark, cloth backdrop works well.

DO NOT

  1. Don’t use the flash on your phone — this will leave your photos looking harsh.
  2. Don’t take your photos on a reflective surface such as a stainless steel worktop — this creates bad lighting.
  3. Don’t take photos in orange light — this leads to a poor quality photo.
Left: The light is too orange — you can’t see the burger properly or it’s filling. Right: The light is reflecting off the surface — it creates shadows and is distracting.

Background/Props (composition)

Your background, and the items surrounding your dish are pretty important when taking photos. No one wants to see a messy kitchen, or a dirty table.

DO

  1. Use items such as a wooden chopping board to place your dish on.
  2. Choose a basic, clean backdrop e.g. white wall, wooden table etc.
  3. Use props from the kitchen such as cutlery, ingredients or a beverage etc.
  4. Take photos from directly above your dish, this makes it look better and more professional.
Left: The props match with the dish. Right: The background and surface are clean and minimal.
The chopping board/use of foil are an innovative way of presenting food with items readily available in the kitchen.

DO NOT

  1. Don’t place too many items in the photo — it looks crowded.
  2. Don’t use items in a photo that look out of place e.g. chopsticks next to a kebab.
  3. Don’t take your photos on a reflective surface — this creates bad lighting.
Left: The background is too busy. Right: The background and props are messy.

Plating food

Placing your food on a plate automatically makes a dish look more attractive (than when presented in a foil/plastic container). It will also help your customer relate to eating that dish in their own home.

DO

  1. Put the food on a plate, if you can — it looks more attractive than a foil or plastic container.
  2. Keep it tidy — messy food is not appetising.
Left: Using the paper the kebab was wrapped in makes for a blank, clean backdrop. Right: The bowl here makes the dish look tidier, and more appetising.

DO NOT

  1. Don’t use square plates — they are difficult to photograph.
  2. Don’t use coloured plates (especially blue or red) — this is not appealing.
Left: This angle/close-up makes the kebab look messy. Right: The container is fine, but the dish doesn’t look as appetising inside of it.

This story was originlly written by myself, for CentralDish