You may have created your tastiest meal ever, but if it doesn’t look good in photos on your social media, menus, leaflets or adverts it won’t bring many new customers through your door. So before you snap your food for promotional purposes, make sure you make it sparkle with these tips:
Have an overall plan
It’s important to be consistent in the way you present your food. This strengthens your restaurant’s brand image and makes your Instagram feed coherent, attracting more followers. So think what type of styling – from upmarket to fun and affordable – colour schemes and backgrounds fit best with your business. And then stick with it!
Less is more
When arranging the food, use less of it than you might actually serve to customers, and position it in the centre of the plate. The surrounding space frames your dish elegantly and is makes it much more attractive than a plate that’s full to bursting.
Humans often rely on make-up to look good in photos and food isn’t that different. Most dishes can benefit from a brush with oil so they don’t look dry. Chicken breast, steaks and other meat dishes look more appetizing with grill marks on them, even if that’s not the way they were actually cooked. You can add the marks after with an electric charcoal starter.
Spraying fruit and veg with cold water will make them appear like they’ve just been picked from a rain-soaked, abundant field. Greens look more vibrant if you put them in ice water for a few minutes, then dry them off. Vegetables and pasta that aren’t quite cooked tend to look more colourful and firmer on camera, too. But don’t drizzle too much dressing on salad leaves or they’ll appear limp.
Use props and people
You can really bring dishes to life by placing well-chosen items around them. These could reflect the food’s theme, season or country of origin, such as Japanese chopsticks next to Sticky Chicken Teriyaki Chicken Wings with Sunomono or a few flowers next to a summery Strawberry Ginger Lemon Iced Tea. Framing a dish with some of its natural ingredients – perhaps the carrots and prime cuts of meat that go into a stew, for instance – make it look wholesome and healthy.
Pictures with a human touch and a bit of motion in them tend to do well on social media. Use a staff member as a prop by having a close-up of their hands holding a dish, rather than it just being photographed on a table. Show salt being sprinkled over a main course or sauce being poured on a pudding.
Arrange your props so that they frame or point towards the food, to make sure it’s the main focus for viewers.
Get a little messy
Your dishes shouldn’t appear too clinical in photos. Cakes look much more natural and appealing with a few crumbs scattered around them. A burger may be more alluring with a bit of sauce oozing down its side.
Colours that complement and contrast
You can use different coloured props, backgrounds and garnishes to make your food really stand out in a photo. Pale dishes can look great against a dark backdrop, for instance. Brown or dark yellow food, such as samosas or pies, look better with green herbs or edible leaves sprinkled on top. Contrast creamy red strawberry ice cream with sparkling silver cutlery.