From one business professional to another, while it may seem like a smart business decision to save marketing dollars and take your own food images for your restaurant, I would like to suggest that you don't.
First and foremost, unless you've photographed food and beverages for years and understand all of the intricacies that go into the specialization of food photography, food photography demands special attention and care with the following:
Lighting: It's true what they say...not all lights are created equal. The mixed lighting in your restaurant kitchen that casts different colors is not comparable to the light cast by natural light. Lighting is one of the most important elements to creating a successful food photograph. Great food photography lighting should enhance texture and highlights to bring out appetite appeal. After all, nobody is going to purchase filet mignon off a dinner menu if it looks like it was shot in a dark cave.
Organization and Planning: The secret to success with food photography also comes with excellent planning and organizational skills. First, if you're a restaurant owner, you should have a complete shot-list of the food items that you want your photographer to take. Surfaces, backdrops, props, utensils, napkins, etc....ALL need to be determined way before the actual photo shoot. The food is the focus, so, it's important that the surfaces, dishware, props, etc don't distract the viewer. They should complement and not detract from the importance of the food. During the photo shoot, the food stylist (or chef, depending on whether the client has a budget for food stylist) should prepare a "stand-in" for the photographer. This helps the photographer set the lights for the "hero" food and it also helps speed up the actual photo shoot. When the "hero" food comes out, the lighting should be in its exact position and the food should be ready to photograph. There are some instances where some quick lighting adjustments have to be made with the hero food, but, the reason behind testing with "stand-in" food is to save time. Time is money and this is important to the client!
Food Styling: While many chefs are very talented with their artistic plating, a food stylist is different from a chef. A chef plates food for restaurant patrons, whereas a food stylist plates food for the camera. That's a BIG difference! Food has to look beautiful, fresh, and it also has to keep on set before it spoils. A food stylist has the knowledge and training to make sure food looks beautiful and tasty!
In closing, the reason your food establishment needs professional food photography is because the success of your business depends upon how great your images look! People eat with their eyes first which means it's very important your food images stand out! If you don't have the experience of photographing food and beverages, save yourself the headache from trying to do it yourself and hire a professional food photographer to do it right!
If you're a food or beverage professional in need of excellent imagery for your website, menu, or marketing material, please visit our website at: http://foodsnaps.net