restaurant photography

What's your unique story?

On Thursday September 17, I had the pleasure of photographing a series of dishes and cocktails at The Lafayette Hotel in San Diego for their restaurant Hope 46. The image in the header is just one of the many dishes that I photographed that day. Executive Chef Ryan Gilbert helped lend his superb talents and I'm thrilled with what we were able to accomplish. The final result (image) really is about honing in on GREAT plating/food styling and GREAT lighting! 

If you've never been to The Lafayette Hotel in San Diego, it's a truly neat experience! The hotel was built back in the 1940's and although it's been remodeled since, the classic old Hollywood charm is very present. 

In several of the photographs, I used props from their restaurant, Hope 46 -- things like books, picture frames, in addition to using old posters (that were tacked to the wall) for the background. It's these elements that bring that nostalgic charm into the photos.

If you own a restaurant, bed and breakfast, hotel, resort, casino, etc....ask yourself, "What story do I want my images to convey?"

For irresistible food and drink photography for hotels, resorts, bed and breakfast, casinos, restaurants, catering companies, and more...turn to Food Snaps Photography.

Visit Food Snaps online at: ,or, call (949) 939-0277

What dishes does my food establishment need photographed?

While it would be nice to have every food item on your menu photographed, from a food cost perspective, it would be way too expensive. Not only from a food cost perspective for the restaurant, the expense of hiring a food photographer to shoot your entire menu would be very costly!

Here are a few suggestions for helping narrow down food items to showcase on your menu (or table-displays, menu inserts, etc...)

1) Showcase your Specials

If you're a restaurant that features monthly (or even weekly) specials, these items would be important to have photographed. Because specials are separate from your regular menu, it's important to put emphasis on them! You can also get creative with the use of specials, such as using the images for table-top displays, window decals, and much more.

2) Showcase your most popular selling dishes

If you own a seafood restaurant and the Halibut is your most popular selling item, by all means have the Halibut photographed. It makes practical sense. Why feature something on your menu that never sells; instead focus on photographing what does sell well at your restaurant.

If you're not sure what sells the most, have your bookkeeper determine that for you. 

3) Showcase in-season items

At certain times of the year, you might want to have a few photographed items of your in-season dishes. This is prime opportunity to feature dishes that are in season that you can't get other times of the year. If figs are in season in August and your restaurant serves a fig salad, this would be a good idea to have a photograph of it. 

It's easy to get overwhelmed by thinking you need every food item photographed, however, consider the above points when you plan for your photo shoot.

If you're a restaurant owner, chef, or catering company in need of AMAZING food images that SELL your product, contact Food Snaps today! 

Visit or call 949-939-0277

Why does my food establishment need professional food photography?

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: