The demand for quality food photography has exploded in recent years. Restaurant culture is booming and visual platforms like Instagram are an essential part of the dining experience.
Commercial food photoshoots were traditionally performed in a studio using high-tech facilities, food stylists, high-end product pack shots. This is moving to a more spontaneous and genuine trend and, with the rise of social media platforms, on-location food shooting became much more common.
Here are a few tips for a successful on-location shooting.
1- Preparation of a food photoshoot
Think of the look and render you would like to give to your photos and what message you would like to convey, natural, sustainable, healthy, graphical, trendy, comforting, with colors matching your branding (colored background, decoration elements, crockery…), etc.
Make a mood board: gather images that correspond to the content or style you are looking to create.
Also think about the tones and color palette that can be associated with your brand and that, together with the composition and style of the images, will convey the right feeling and mood. For example, a calm feeling with soft and pastel tones or a playful dynamic look with bright and sharp images etc.
It is always a good idea to play and match color tones, here is a great tool to explore trendy color schemes and play with complementary tones.
Think of future social media communication, for example, add a Christmas touch even if the shooting is taking place in the summer so you have available material when you need it.
Make a list of the dishes you wish to showcase and prepare the day of the shoot.
That way you will be able to plan the logistics, brief your staff and have all the necessary ingredients and props ready.
For food shots, it is highly recommended to plan the session when your restaurant is quiet but the staff required to prepare the dishes is available.
Make sure that:
-A table can be set by the window and that there is enough space to spread out and play around as much as needed.
-The chef can focus on making lovely and appetizing dishes while the restaurant is not yet open or very quiet.
-There are not customers who could interfere in the shots.
2- Preparation of atmosphere and lifestyle images
Even if the aim is to shoots event-like spontaneous shots, the session needs to be prepared and the shots may have to be pre-staged depending if the customer is fine with being photographed and to appear on social media or on your website.
It is always advised to appoint customers who are happy to participate, in this case, the photoshoot will have to be planned at a busier moment. Alternatively, you may ask staff members and/or friends or family members to help you. Either way, do not forget to have them sign a release where they authorize you to use their image (It’s important to always obtain a signed model release form prior to shooting, regardless of whether the model is paid or unpaid).
If you need both food and atmosphere photos, it is primordial to plan the shooting in 2 distinct stages, for example, the food shooting when the restaurant is very quiet and then or closed and the lifestyle shot when the restaurant is a bit busier or when your “models” are available.
Same as with the food, before the shoot you may want to think of future communication, message to convey, branding and color codes.
This is primordial to determine to plan the logistics so that the models wear suitable matching outfits, for example matching tones with your interior, or have the required props available.
3- Styling and presentation is capital
A big part of food photography is styling and presentation, you may not have the budget for a food stylist but with a neat presentation, fresh products, a well-prepared session and with the help, the eye and experience of your photographer, the shot will be eye-catching and mouthwatering as in a magazine!
Make sure that you have the required ingredients, fresh and in sufficient quantity so raw products can also be added and taken away to produce different images. Also make sure that the necessary crockery and props are available, for a particular image you may need items that you do not necessarily have on a daily basis in your restaurant. Be careful with your dishes and plates that they look nice and new, for example, you may want to use a new plank rather than one that was used a lot and which has a lot of stains and marks.
If you do not have a suitable table to place the food, we know how small the table can be in Amsterdam sometimes, an option is also to use the ground or use a backdrop.
For behind the scene photos, for example of the chef busy with the preparation of a dish, make sure everything is clean and tidy and the chef wears a proper neat work outfit.