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Restaurant Marketing Menu Management

Improve your food photography skills & create menus that sell

Picture of Stefan Hertzberg
By Stefan Hertzberg on February, 23 2022

When ordering food at a restaurant it’s all about the ambiance, experience, look, smell, and taste of the food and drinks.  When ordering food online for delivery or takeout, for better or for worse, it is mostly about the look.

So, when competing with other restaurants in your area, the images of your items and their description directly affects your sales – both directly via your chosen online ordering or delivery platform and indirectly through your social media marketing.

#1 – Use of natural lighting

Most restaurant operators don’t have professional photography lighting laying around, so take your shots during the day near large windows.  Positioning your food so indirect natural light is coming in from the side or the back of the plate generally has the best outcome.

Lighting a little low?  When your natural light is not quite right, avoid the tendency to turn to flash photography as this typically creates severe reflections, and generally the food does not turn out quite right.

#2 – Add a little glimmer

Freshly made salads, straight out of the fryer crispy chicken, just prepped vegetable sides – unfortunately no matter how fresh the food, it doesn’t always appear that way through a camera lens.  But a quick trip to your local dollar store for a spray bottle filled with water and a splash of olive oil can change that.

Before taking your shot, give your food a light mist to bring out a light glimmer.  But be careful not to go overboard and turn that glimmer into a puddle on top of your food.

 #3 - Counter shadows

Avoid direct lighting from being in your shot.  While a bit of shadow can if used correctly create depth, more often shadows from direct light cause harsh direct shadows.  If you need to something to diffuse direct light on a budget, a plain white bed sheet works great.

#4 - Keep the background simple

It makes sense that some restauranteurs will want to try to include the interior of their restaurant itself in the background in their food photography to show the restaurant itself.  Leave these shots for their own images.

Unless you are a pro, wood background or areas that use limited (often natural) colors generally lead to the best shots.  For those looking for something unique, adding seasonal elements like flowers or fake snow or ingredients from the meal like peppers or strawberries can bring a bit of color to the shot and create a scene of personality.

#5 - Take multiple shots

Unless you only take one shot, your first shot is unlikely to be your best shot.  Take several shots from different angles that can be reviewed later in post-production.  Common angles are close-ups, side shots, angled slightly down at the plate, and a top-down shot.

#6 - Less is often more

While decorations, props, and backgrounds can be fun and create unique images - remember that a primary reason for food photography from a restaurant's perspective is to give the customer a better understanding of the item they are ordering online.  Simple shots also help create a sense of consistency as they are easier to replicate for plates across your menu.

#7 - Post-production

Not sure why your competitor's shots look betters than yours?  It is likely due to a bit of photo magic in post-production.  Programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop can help give images that wow effect, but these programs can be expensive and have a bit of a learning curve.  

While there are free programs alternatives available for many restaurant operators it's usually easier to find a local photographer or freelancer to do the editing for them.  Local pros are generally better as it's easier to establish a viable long-term relationship.

Now that you have your photos, how can you use them on your online ordering platforms?

Oftentimes restaurant operators struggle to keep up with menu changes and consistency across their internal POS and the multiple 1st and 3rd party delivery solutions that they use as it can take a lot of time to update each channel independently - which typically results in inconsistencies and errors.

From photos, to menu items, modifiers, availability, prep time, and more - ItsaCheckmate allows you to update everything in your existing POS.  Our solution will then sync these updates to your selected ordering platforms.

Learn more about our POS integration and online menu management solution at itsacheckmate.com

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