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Food Photography for Restaurant Owners. Easy Tricks to Great Food Pics!

Updated on October 18, 2009

Macro Shot, from the Side

As the owner of a restaurant on a perpetual shoestring budget, I’ve had to fill a lot of roles (Jack of all trades- master of none!). For the small business owner, calling in the pros for everything you need just gets too expensive.

So, one thing that I’ve learned to do for myself is my own food photography, for menus, promos and adverts.

I’ve written this hub primarily for owners of food related business, to pass on what I’ve learned. Here are 8 tips for taking great food shots. Hopefully I can inspire you to start taking your own food pics and to start saving a little money for your own bottom line!

I don’t consider myself a great photographer (very much a point and shoot man), but I have learned (after taking some terribly inedible looking shots along the way) how to present food in a good light (pun intended).

Here are my top 8 tips for taking food pictures that’ll look as good as your food tastes!

Food Photography Tips

  1. Use natural light – time your photo shoot for the late afternoon to take advantage of those lovely angular rays of sunshine and set your food up in front of your largest sunniest picture window. I’ve tried taken food pics at night and they never look very appetizing.
  2. Use super close ups – get within inches of the food, and take pics from all angles. I’m partial to side views (where my camera is inches away and just above the side of the plate) but you never know what’s going to look best until you get to the editing phase.
  3. Take loads of shots - why not, digital film is cheap!
  4. Work quickly – Have everything ready for the shoot before you get the food ready. You don’t want your lovely lettuce to start wilting while you set up your tripod!
  5. Think about your background – make sure that what shows behind the food is clean, attractive and doesn’t distract from the picture’s focus.
  6. Style it up – You’re not (necessarily) going to eat this food, so feel free to poke around in it (fluffing up salads, wiping sauces, etc.) to perk it up and to keep it looking beautiful.
  7. Use props – we serve big platters of food, so I like to use props to give the picture a visual context (a bottle of soda, beside the plate, for example) – so that people know just how big that platter of ribs I’m advertising is! Other props, such as utensils, or a vase of flowers, can add visual interest to a picture.
  8. Make it shiny – this is a tip I got from a pro, and it really helps to make food look appetizing. Take a little spray oil and mist whatever you’re shooting to give it a sheen – really looks great in a picture.

Nice Background

Getting in Close for Great Shots!


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    • profile image

      real gravy 

      6 years ago

      found you by chance as I am trying to get into food photographs for my pub and restaurant. Great photo of the scallops, thanks for your article

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful pics John ! Thanx for sharing your secrets :)

    • bbqsmokersite profile image


      7 years ago from Winter Haven, Florida

      Hey John, just started following you here on Hubpages. I am trying to up my food photography game and appreciate this hub. Will keep searching for more food photo tips and share on hubs of my own as I get a chance. Would love to see an updated food photo hub from you as well! :)

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      9 years ago

      Hi Ivor, thanks for the comment and for your expert advice - always appreciated!

    • profile image

      Ivor Tetteh-Lartey 

      9 years ago

      Food photography is a challenge. Although natural light is good it will change constantly. If you are on a tight budget and normal domestic lamp bounced off a a large white card. This creates a soft natural looking light at a consistent colour temperature. The camera should be on a tripod a set for incandescent light or if you have a flash that can be bounced,pop up flash is not suitable.

    • sarovai profile image


      9 years ago

      Food photography really useful tips. Thank u for sharing.


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