Fffffs! Is Your Fabulous Food Failing to Feature and Flourish Successfully?
Article By Lizzie Melvin of Elizabeth Melvin Photography

You know that your food is delicious - if only people would try it, they’d love it! So why aren’t they booking? After all, you’re constantly posting up about it! Sadly, this lack of interest could all be down to terrible photography!

I’ve seen images of food that I’ve known to be amazing, look worse than “utterly dreadful” on social posts!
You only have seconds to grab attention – don’t waste it. You need that attention to be “wow!” not “that looks yuk. I won’t be going there!”

Everyone eats with their eyes first, so make them want to eat at your establishment.
These photography examples here, are all from real meals heading for the table. All are taken on a phone camera to illustrate that you can get eye catching social imagery with what you have to hand.

Picture 1 looks dull, beige, with no textures or glisten, to get you salivating. It’s been taken under the kitchen lights, with heavy shadow, and looks like a tiny portion, because of the huge plate around it. Yet I know that food is of genuine top quality, created by a talented chef. So, how can that be shown?
Easy! You just need a camera, light and a little forethought.

Sushi-style fish starter, but badly lit                                               In natural light, and more appetising

The second image is the same dish taken into natural light with the whole image concentrating on the food and not the dish. Now you see the true colours, glisten and ingredients.

Why this should matter for you
Mouth-watering photography of your food is key to attracting new customers to your restaurant, pub or cafe.

Clearly, I’d advocate using a professional for key advertising. But for social stories, that isn’t always practical, or necessary. Phone cameras can fill the gap. Unlike professional kit, phone cameras are small, really quick to use, and produce quality images for social use.

If you are thinking that your customers are always posting, so you don’t need to, remember this: your customers are capturing a memory for themselves, not a sales pitch for you. They may not be showing your food in the best light, or at the best angle and may have background distractions.

For you, every post is a possible sales pitch, so I’m not saying “don’t encourage your customers to post”, I’m saying that you need to be posting the stories that you want your ideal clients to know about.  I know that cooking comes first! However, you need to get practiced at quickly taking your own riveting photographs without interrupting that flow. Also, people love those “behind the scenes stories” too – so keep your phone to hand.

1. Pay attention to the arrangement of foods and colours on the plate.
You or your chef are creating “art on a plate” - not just fodder! Think of your food as the paint, your plate choice as your canvas and your table setting as your frame. Create something eye catching!

Think about colours in your presentation. Anything bright will draw the eye, so place those where you want your customer to look. Use quality cutlery, glasses, flowers and folded linen as your frame. If you’re doing takeaway, then choose your “frame” to speak to that look. All of this is absorbed by the viewer, even if not consciously. It’s all part of your unique story.
It’s all about what your customer will say about you to others.

Pâté arranged in natural light, with colours and attractive presentation, including an interesting serving ‘plate’

2. Look at the quality of the light.
Instead of simply taking a snap in the light of the only clear space in the kitchen, take the plate into natural light - into a table setting if that suits, or onto a windowsill. Natural light is great for food, but adding in a little extra light from a simple torch can add extra sparkle. Shine your torch onto the plate to pick out a particular area.

A windowsill, even on a grey day, is enough light

Showing the bruschetta at its best. Note the great use of colours too.

Pan roasted lamb without a torch, just natural light              Lamb, taken with a torch

3. Pay attention to the angle
Now look at the angle of taking. Straight down onto the plate shows how the food has been arranged. Can be good if it is an artistic presentation. However, if the style is a “heaped stack” then it really can look like a splat on a plate!

Take a view from lower down to show that it is a stack. Now it should look more appealing.

These bowls look better from the side

This fish looks great from above

If you want to do more, your phone has useful extra settings, including background blur, spotlight and more to offer. Get experimenting!
I’m not for one moment suggesting that every dish hits the lens before service! But one or two a day will give constant interest for your social feed. Give it a try, and I’m certain you’ll see your online social following increase - so tuck in!

All culinary credits go to the wonderful team of Rising Sun Inn, Altarnun, Nr. Launceston, Cornwall. Tim Kendall being the Chef Patron. All these meals were created by head chef Simon Davies and Sous Chef Aaron Brewer. Menu choices change with seasons and availability. I can vouch for all dishes being absolutely delicious with not a crumb wasted!
You can find out more about Lizzie Melvin through her website