How to take and share more photos of your cafe or restaurant


Would you spend money without checking the goods first? It happens occasionally, but most people want to ‘see’ what they’re buying – it’s the same when it comes to choosing a restaurant.

Everyone has a smartphone, so it’s the perfect marketing tool – use your photos and those of the customers. Professional photographers still have the edge with high quality images, but there’s a lot that you and the staff can achieve – a picture tells a thousand words.

Pump up the decoration and interior design in your business with bright, vibrant photos – large prints, up to A0 size (a very large poster) can be mounted on the wall. Close-ups of food, people enjoying themselves, decoration and lighting all work well. Go in very close and shoot one canapé rather than a tray-full – it looks much more appetising. Photos of the chefs hands stirring or chopping. Right up close for a single strawberry or pink, juicy lamb.

These ‘original works of art’ cost little and look great. Have them printed on canvas or on transparent plastic and mounted on a light-box – now you have good lighting for dull areas, combined with some subtle promotion. At Brisbane’s popular Mondo Organic, I’ve seen large backlit photos of their trips to Italy mounted on the wall – very authentic. If you have a large window or wall space outside, enlarge food or produce shots onto coloured film and cover the whole area – suddenly your brand is alive.

Staff photos can look great, but set them up as ‘happy crowds’ – waving to the audience or sprawled on chairs like a litter of puppies. Two or three people together is often more interesting than a big crowd - the message is friendly, we love our job.

Where to put these staff pictures? On your website, on Instagram, on Facebook or as rotating slides on a plasma screen. Use a Media Release Form and get signed permission from staff so you’re covered for the future. Go close when you take pictures – so many are boring because they’re taken too far away. Use ‘slow flash’ if you’re photographing a person in the daylight – it illuminates their face if there’s a lot of light in the background.

Many pubs do this well, posting dozens of photos from music or social nights on their Facebook page each week, available for fans to tag, comment and tell their friends. The punters are spreading the word for you!

Do you have a great publicity image of your chef or owner looking professional, ready for media interest? When you are taking staff pics do this at the same time. It’s good to be prepared with a portrait that you like, rather than have to organise it on the run.

Want to take evocative photos of your restaurant interior? Avoid using flash in a large space at night – it will never fill the space. Instead do a time exposure – prop the camera so it’s stable or use a tripod. This is when smartphone cameras can’t really compete with the real thing – digital cameras have advantages.

Post-production of your photos is important before you release them – brighten them up, crop out the rubbish bin on the side, and use some of the ‘ambience’ effects available on apps like Snapseed on a phone, or Photo apps on your PC. Take 20 shots and only share the best 3 or 4 – that way everyone thinks you’re a photo genius!