How to Take your Food Photography to the Next Level - Nuphoriq Skip to main content
Blog How to Take your Food Photography to the Next Level
Get the latest catering trends
Marketing

How to Take your Food Photography to the Next Level

nuphoriq secondary logo by Nuphoriq
event photography

Marketing is very visual, especially catering marketing. After all, people eat with their eyes. This means good photography—specifically food photography—is key for a catering company.

Just how important are photos for marketing? Why do photos matter for marketing? Instead of just taking our word for it, we will let these facts and stats do the talking.

Photos get attention. With the sheer volume of information being shared online—1.5 billion units of content—marketers need to do everything they can to grab the attention of their target audience. Visual elements increase people’s willingness to read content by a staggering 80%. Source: Digitalist Magazine.

Photos increase engagement. Photographs are easier to consume than text. Facebook campaigns generate 65% more engagement and tweets average 35% more retweets when including a photograph than those without. Source: Digitalist Magazine.

Photos create a favorable perception. Humans are conditioned to make snap judgments, sometimes on a subconscious level. A professional appearance, including a well-taken photograph displaying a product or service in context, builds trust. Source: Digitalist Magazine.

Photos can drive sales. There is a direct link between utilizing high-quality images in marketing and the growth of sales. Photographs help consumers visualize themselves using a product or service and allows them to imagine it improving their life in some way. Source: Digitalist Magazine.

When we are speaking with caterers, some of the most frequently asked questions we hear surrounding photography are:

  • Should we hire a professional food photographer?
  • What do we look for in a food photographer?
  • What items should we photograph?
  • What types of photos do we need to have them take?
  • How do we keep these photos organized?

Well the good news is, we are here to help you get answers to all of those questions.

Questions to Ask Your Food Photographer

  1. Can I view your food photography portfolio?
    a. You will want to see if the food is staged well and “dressed” up. Notice if he/she has made simple dishes look rich with ingredients.
  2.  Do you have any references that you can provide?
  3. Do you bring your own props? (not food containers, but backgrounds, lighting, etc.)
  4. How involved do you need me to be?
  5. Should all the food be ready right away? Should it be cooled?
  6. Any specific tips for ingredients? (e.g., don’t use melted cheese because it’ll look like plastic after sitting out for a while)
  7. Do you need to see my menu and current images before we meet?
  8. How quickly will I get my final photos?
  9. Do I have full rights?

What Food Items Should You Photograph

Your photographer will know how to make your food look mouthwatering, but you will need to choose what items to photograph. Consider your top two or three food group items that you’re a pro at selling. You do not need to have 30 photos of each menu option at different angles. However, you do need to vary the dishes photographed to show the range of your culinary experience.

Ask yourself these questions before deciding what food items to feature:

  • What sells more?
  • What do you want to sell more?
  • What have customers complimented you on?
  • What foods are challenging to describe over the phone?

You may also want to ask your photographer for thoughts on what photographs well or the items you selected. Their experience may help you narrow it down.

What Are the Types of Photo Styles for Food

Once you have selected the food items that you want your photographer to shoot, you will want to think about the photo styles, angles and orientation for each item.

There are four food photography styles, as follows:

  1. The Process (Ingredients)
  2. Beauty
  3. Let’s Eat
  4. Served

There are three angles and two different orientations that can be used, as follows:

  1. Overhead
    a. Landscape
    b. Portrait
  2. Straight-on
    a. Landscape
    b. Portrait
  3. Angle
    a. Landscape
    b. Portrait

Each of these styles can be mixed and matched with the different angles and orientations. Sound overwhelming? It’s not; read further to learn more about the photography styles and see examples.
Remember that the photos shown are just examples. We are in no way indicating that you must have these particular food items in these exact angles or styles. Use your best judgment, as you know your food best!

Photo Style 1: The Process (Ingredients)

The main focus of these types of photos is showcasing your ingredients—either in raw form or during the cooking process. This type of photo isn’t for everyone, but if your brand messaging includes an emphasis on ingredients (e.g., signature ingredients or farm-to-table caterer) or a cooking method, then you might want to consider having two or three different ingredient setups.

The Process Photography

*Disclaimer* One ingredient setup doesn’t have to have all of these angles and orientations (landscape/portrait). Your photographer should consider the ingredients themselves and which angles would accentuate them best.

Photo Style 2: Beauty

The main focus of these types of photos is showing your final product in all its glory. It should be the most beautiful way you present your food. No, this doesn’t have to be the way you serve it at events (more on that later). Think about the types of photos you’d want to use in an ad or perhaps as the showcase image on your website. Be sure to include props whenever relevant.

The Beauty Food Photography Shot
BG Events & Catering – David Fox Photography 

*Disclaimer* One menu item doesn’t have to have all of these angles and orientations (landscape/portrait). Your photographer should consider the ingredients themselves and which angles would accentuate them best.

Photo Style 3: Let’s Eat

The main focus of these types of photos is to sell the experience of using your catering services. There’s always going to be some kind of action in the photo. This style is taking the beauty shot one step forward: cutting a slice of cake and showing some of those crumbs or getting up close to really see the details of a menu item. This is also a great style of photo to include people enjoying the dish or even a hand reaching into the photo frame.

Let's Eat Food Photography

*Disclaimer* One menu item doesn’t have to have all of these angles and orientations (landscape/portrait). Your photographer should consider the ingredients themselves and which angles would accentuate them best.

Photo Style 4: Served

The main focus of these types of photos is to show exactly how you serve your food. Chafing dishes may not be the most photogenic, but it’s important to have these photos in your library so people understand how they’ll receive their orders. They help build trust between you and your customers. And we all know how important that is.

Served Food Photography
J. Scott Catering – Andrea Warden Photography, Avalon Catering 

*Disclaimer* One menu item doesn’t have to have all of these angles and orientations (landscape/portrait). Your photographer should consider the ingredients themselves and which angles would accentuate them best.

So should you hire a food photographer? YES!

At the end of the day, food photography is a major investment in both time and money, but it will be worth it. Think of how that photography will help your website, menus and social posts stand out from the rest.

BONUS: Once your photo shoot is complete, you will want to make sure the images are properly stored. To learn more about managing your catering, food and event photos, click here.

nuphoriq secondary logo
Meet Nuphoriq
Nuphoriq is a marketing company for caterers and event venues. And we're fun to work with! We work alongside everyone from family businesses to the Leading Caterers of America and partner with organizations like the ICA, LCA and Catersource.
Share:
papers & graphs

Sign up for our free newsletter "Catering Trends Monthly"

For our handpicked list of the best catering content every month.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.