How I photograph restaurants
Updated: Mar 22
Having your food photographed in your space tells so much about your story. Sharing those photos on social media gives your guests an idea of what to expect when they arrive. It sounds like a small thing but it also helps them decide how to dress and it gives them an idea of what kind of food you serve. Sharing beautiful photos of your space and your menu will set the tone of your guests' visit before they even arrive.
When I shoot at restaurants, I don't have many requirements but there are a few things to expect in order to capture your overall vibe.
There is no easy way to say this:
Bright overhead lighting makes your food look awful. It adds shadows in all the wrong places and depending on the kind of lighting, you will have a colour cast on your food. I will always request to turn off the lights. When I shoot in your space and I'm not bringing in my studio light kit, I will need a table near good clean window light.
Studio lights take more time to set up, to adjust and they are really distracting to your guests. They also take up a lot of space. I like to move fast and turn over a lot of photos so I prefer to use the natural light that's in your space.
If you're uncomfortable turning the lights out in one corner of the restaurant, I recommend booking your session just before opening. Or book at lunch time--the lunch crowd is usually a little more casual and will be a little more gracious.
I will be getting on a step ladder or stepping up on a chair for pictures—this could be distracting to the restaurant vibe, but essential to get a good overhead.
I love to incorporate hands and staff in the photos so just be sure that they're aware that there will be photos taken--everyone is a little more comfortable when they come in prepared.
This is what a restaurant 'shot list' might look like:
chef in action
servers welcoming/serving guests
overall photos of your space
**These images were taken pre-covid at Tide & Vine Oyster House in Niagara Falls