Why Food Photography Is Important for Your Restaurant Website and Menu

why food photography is important

The visual appeal of food is undeniable. In a menu, pictures of food are the most important thing. But why hire a food photographer when you can just rely on your smartphone for menu photography? Because the quality you need to sell more can only come from a professional photographer. Taking pictures of food is not as easy as it seems. Professional food photography brings a lot to the table, from the expertise to the talent and the artistic eye, among others. We tell you why food photography is important and how you can benefit from it on your website and menu.

Why Food Photography Is Important for Your Restaurant’s Success

Before we get into the why, let’s see: what is food photography? In short, it is a type of life photography that creates attractive photos of food. This type of commercial food photography is used in menus, ads, cookbooks, packaging, websites, and the like. All restaurants would benefit from acknowledging the importance of good food photography and using it as part of their restaurant psychology efforts. So, why food photography?

Food Photography Statistics: The Truth Behind Food and Visual Culture

People usually remember only 10% of the information they read or hear. If you pair that information with a relevant image, the percentage skyrockets to 65%. The same HubSpot article quotes 46% of marketers saying photography is vital to their storytelling and marketing approach.

Moreover, visual marketing is on an upward trajectory. As early as 2018, an estimated 84% of communication was visual. If you add pictures to your content, you stand to get 94% more views than without.

It makes sense then why 82% of people would buy a dish just because of how it looks in the picture, regardless of whether or not they wanted it in the first place. And if you still don’t understand why food photography is important, know that restaurants that went from text-based menus to photo-based menus in online ordering increased their conversion rates by 25%.

It makes a fantastic first impression

You know what they say about first impressions: they stick. And you wouldn’t want to be stuck with a lousy label, so strive to make a great first impression online. It all starts with your website, where images should speak for themselves.

Their function should be to draw the customers’ attention, whet their appetite, and trigger visual hunger. If their first contact with you is with your high-quality, mouth-watering photos, they’ll remember your restaurant.

It increases sales

A good photo can sell a product. Look at the juicy, perfectly-shaped burger below. Wouldn’t you want to buy it? Now, look at the burger next to it. Although it might taste just as good, the bad quality, angle, and composition of the photo will probably deter you from buying it.

menu science: add delicious looking pictures
amateur photograph of a mcdonalds cheeseburger

Attribution (Right photo): BrokenSphere / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Photos allow you to advertise your dishes in multiple ways. You can choose to feature a professional photo of each meal, or you can highlight your most profitable and popular dishes with exceptional images.

That way, customers will be more inclined to order them as opposed to the others because the image will draw their attention. Similarly, you can highlight dishes your chef is famous for, or your specials and promotions.

It builds trust and credibility

The phrase “what you see is what you get” comes to mind when we think about the importance of food photography in today’s world. Customers like knowing what they’re going to get. Surprises may be pleasant, but seldom when it comes to food. Having professional food photos on your website and menu shows professionalism and creates trust.

However, be careful not to oversell and overpromise only to disappoint when the customer gets the actual meal. Even if the food photographer uses tricks to make the photo look good, it shouldn’t be that different from the real dish. Some food styling tricks might be a bit extreme.

It’s a one-stop solution for all your marketing needs

You need to make an initial investment in a professional food photo shoot done by a restaurant photographer. However, here’s why food photography is important: the photos you’ll get will be useful in all sorts of ways. The most immediate and profitable use is to add them to your website and menu.

Then, you can also use them for food photography marketing. You already know the importance of images in advertising is undeniable. Post them on social media to attract followers, use them in ads to get more website clicks, or integrate them in flyers advertising your latest promotions. You can even upload them to directories like TripAdvisor and Zomato to get more customers to choose you over the competition.

It builds a brand and tells a story

As a restaurant owner, you have the chance to control how the world perceives your restaurant. You are in control of what you show and what image you put out to the world. Professional food photos can help you build a brand that stands out and shapes your restaurant identity.

The photos should reflect who you are. If your restaurant is classy and sophisticated, the photos should look more like the one below.

the best food menu is the one that looks good

If you’re putting out a funky bistro vibe, consider photos like that of this crispy pizza:

modern food photography: pizza

It appeals to customer emotions

Photos trigger an emotional impact, and culinary photography is no different. Naturally, the feeling you want to trigger is desire. Customers should take one look at your food photos and say, “I want that!”

Having professionally shot food photos will trigger an instant response in the customer’s subconscious. They’re going to want to taste the dish ASAP, thus placing an online order, booking a table, or simply visiting your restaurant.

It helps with SEO

Good SEO can boost your restaurant website to the first page of Google - where everybody wants to be. There are two reasons why food photography is important when it comes to SEO. First, photos make articles more appealing and easier to read. Users are more likely to click on an article that features a good picture. More website clicks mean more traffic, which in turn leads to a higher ranking.

The second SEO benefit of food photography is that you can optimize the images to get more visibility. Adding a relevant, keyword-based alternative text to every image will make it more easily discoverable in search engines.

It increases conversions

With increased sales come increased conversions. A photo-based menu will convert more than one based only on text. Eyes eat before the mouth, and professional pictures in menus will make your customers feel like they’re already tasting the dish. Just picture a restaurant menu without any pictures. Boring, isn’t it?

It speaks an international language

Why are images more effective than words? Because they are universal. Pictures don’t need an introduction or a caption to speak volumes. They appeal to customers from all over the world. Thus, using suggestive images to accompany your menu eliminates the language barrier. Everyone can recognize a delicious-looking pizza, regardless of where they come from.

It makes the customer’s choice easier

It’s significantly more challenging to decide between, say, three dishes if you have no idea how any of them look. Make it easier for customers to choose by providing feeling hungry pictures for every menu item. The only danger now would be that they can’t decide because they all look delicious, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you :)

Food Photography Tips

Now that you know why food photography is important, let’s quickly go over a couple of easy tips for flawless food photos.

  1. Choose the most flattering angle. Depending on the height, shape, and size of the dish, you can shoot it from above or from the front. Something taller, such as a burger, benefits from being shot from the front. Alternatively, a pizza is better highlighted when shot from above. That’s how you capture all of the ingredients.
  2. Use photos of your best-looking dishes on the homepage. Remember what we said about first impressions? Put your best foot forward by using the best looking images on the homepage. Make these the first thing the user sees when they visit your restaurant website.
  3. Don’t upstage the food. From props to the background, you might be tempted to go a bit extra and use colors and textures that will steal the focus from the food. That is a big no-no. You want the food to be the main course, so to speak. :) The background and props are just supporting actors. Use neutral tones for both.
  4. Stick to a style. Food photography for restaurants has to be consistent. Since it builds your brand and restaurant identity, you can’t afford to have pictures in different styles on your homepage, menu, or anywhere else. So, once you’ve decided on your signature style, only use that one.
  5. Take advantage of food and social media. While we don’t recommend using user-generated content on your website or menu, feel free to use it on social media. They may not be professional photographers, but the “taking pictures of food” trend turned food bloggers and Instagrammers into real experts. They adhere to the philosophy that the camera eats first, and they usually take great photos. With their permission, share them on your social media to take advantage of user-generated content.
food photography for instagram: taking a picture of a meal

Moreover, encourage everyone to Instagram their food by making it camera-ready and adding picture-perfect decorations. Food tastes better when you snap a picture of it because of delayed gratification. When you finally taste it, the experience will be intensified.

Read more: Restaurant Photography Ideas

Get Access to a Free Food Photo Library for Your Restaurant Website

We’ve already established pictures on menus, and on your restaurant website are vital in today’s visual society. If you can’t afford to invest in a professional photo shoot just yet, we have good news! By using our online ordering system for restaurants, you get access to hundreds of professional, delicious-looking photos of food for every cuisine and restaurant type.

The system will add a “See MENU & Order” button on your restaurant’s website. You can customize your menu with whatever photos you find most appealing. For instance, the professional photos used in this article are all taken from our extensive library. Aren’t they a showstopper?

Conclusion

One of the most crucial restaurant website features is quality food photos. The power of pictures is undeniable in a restaurant menu. Now that we’ve explained why food photography is important, we can safely answer this question: “Is the investment in a creative food photography session worth it?” Yes.

A more affordable alternative is using the GloriaFood online ordering system. If you want to get tempting food photos on your restaurant’s website too, try our restaurant website builder. Take your website and restaurant menu pictures to the next level by tapping into this success-guaranteed aspect of menu psychology and visual culture.

Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura is a content writer and marketing specialist with a knack for SEO. Her mission is to help restauranteurs make their business stand out and skyrocket sales by providing exceptional online marketing content.

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