For many restaurant patrons, your social media channels serve as their first experience to your staff, your ambiance, and most importantly, your food. There’s much more involved in developing a social media strategy for your restaurant than simply posting pictures and praying they’re seen and liked by customers. While you don’t need a professional photographer for most of your social posts, there are many tips that will help you take quality photos that are shareable, engaging, and excite current and potential restaurant customers.

Why Quality Matters When it Comes to Pictures of Food

Customers can not pass up on a good #foodporn pic. Usually, great pictures like this cause a reaction that makes users feel hungry and want to come try your food. Visual stimuli is what causes us to feel hungry after scrolling and double-tapping on those cheesy pizza and juicy burger pics. For food and restaurant owners, this is extremely important because research shows not every food pic will make us feel that way, and that depending on how well the image is taken, our tastebuds might not always be dancing.

4 Ways to Take Better Smartphone Pictures of your Menu Items

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take studio-like pics of your menu items. Really with any smartphone, your pictures can look just as great as any that are shared by a top restaurant. There is a technique and some work is involved, but these 4 factors will determine how yummy a menu item will look:

1. Lighting: Natural lighting is best. Avoid using flash whenever possible and try to incorporate more background light to make the image more even. It might be more difficult if you’re in a dark setting, but there’s a lot you can do with a candle.

2. Plating: You can’t just slap some food on a plate and expect people to “like” it. There’s an art to properly setting up the scenery and staging your dish. Use what’s around you, (utensils, table settings, drinks, menus, napkins, etc.) to fill in the empty space.

3. Angles: Goes without saying, but angles matter. Depending on what your product is, you may need to play around with different view points and see what works best to capture everything. Compare overhead shots with straight-on shots and see what stands out more. Pay attention the background of your photo as well. If there’s a recognizable piece of artwork, a brick wall, or something that patrons always remember about your restaurant or eatery, make sure to include that in some of your pictures.

4. Editing: That word just sounds counterintuitive when it comes to taking “natural” pics, but all photographers do it. Make your product the center of attention by using different filters and other tools that puts captures all of the details. Focus on filters that keep natural colors of the food. The goal is to provide a realistic expectation of what the food will present like in person.

Remember, practice makes perfect. You can’t expect to get it right the first time, but you’ll start to get the hang of it quickly. As you grow your social media audience, you should see higher reach on posts, more engagement, and increased traffic to your restaurant.

Just like cooking, taking pics is an art and requires time and dedication – just don’t let your food get cold!