The Importance of Professional Photography for Restaurants

hospitality and hotel photography

Professional photography at Radisson Collection Nofa, photo by Gerry O’Leary

Hiring a professional photographer is absolutely vital to the success of a restaurant. The food, the décor and the ambiance are key, however grabbing the potential customer’s attention and getting them to make a reservation is often decided on sight alone.

It’s no secret that food photography is a hobby that unites people across the planet. Sometimes I even find myself waiting at an airport poring over people’s droolworthy shots of their dinner on Instagram. However, though it may sound surprising, restaurant photography isn’t simply about the food.

Every decent restaurant has a website that looks polished and inviting – and it’s one of your top selling tools. And for your website, you need top quality images of all the features that make your restaurant stand out.

Why you should choose a professional restaurant photographer

It may be tempting to let your younger brother (who is a budding amateur photographer) snap some shots on the latest iPhone, but when it comes to marketing your restaurant, which is the last thing you should do. When you pause to think about it – who would you hire to run your kitchen? The woman with 17 years’ experience working her way up in hotel kitchens, or the guy who is a dab hand at making scrambled eggs for his flatmates and whips up a great green curry once in a while? If you want quality restaurant photography that will stand the test of time, you need to invest.

Food Photography: Toro Toro Abu Dhabi
Food photography at Toro Toro Abu Dhabi, by Gerry O’Leary

Serve your most appealing dishes through food photography

According to top Chef Ranveer Brar, it is the presentation attracts us to food and taste creates memories. It’s interesting to note that he has numerous tips on contrasts in presentation, such as plating white and red food on black plates. These are also tricks of my trade as a food photographer – our experience has taught us what appeals to people.

Collaborate with your photographer in advance of the shoot to choose the best dishes to photograph. Agree on the styling and arrange with the chef so that garnishes and different plating options are on hand for the shoot. While the image should capture a real likeness of the food, sometimes the composition can take a little more time to prepare. I discuss my top tips for food photography in this blog from last year.

Capture some interior restaurant imagery

For the world’s top restaurants, customers are not just buying the food, but the experience. A lot of work goes into creating a space and ambiance that customers will enjoy.

The interior design of Dubai’s high-end restaurants is extraordinary, and I’m always delighted to photograph the spaces (as well as sample the food). I would argue that the design quality often matches the food, and it should be showcased. This will also give the viewers a feeling of familiarity when they enter the space, making them feel comfortable.

It’s a good idea to arrange the interiors shoot for before the food photography, as it will need to be lit and set up differently. Alternatively, it can be photographed on a different day entirely, to accommodate operational hours.

Lifestyle Photography: Radisson Blu Collection Edinburgh, Scotland
Lifestyle photography in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Gerry O’Leary

Add some lifestyle images

When you open or relaunch a restaurant, you’ll receive many requests for photography. You’ll need images for:

  • The restaurant website
  • Restaurant reservation platforms
  • Traditional media such as magazines
  • Advertising, including billboards or posters in your area
  • Social media

Certain formats (such as those on many smartphones) simply don’t deliver the parameters required to cover all these angles.

Having been in the restaurant photography business for a few decades, I know exactly the type of quality required for all these and I deliver a variety of images ideal for use across several platforms.

When budgets are tight in pre-opening, it can be tempting to put off hiring a top photographer to capture your restaurant and menu, however you’re missing a cornerstone of your marketing by doing so. The investment you make in proper restaurant and food photography will pay off for years to come and aid in the success of your business.

I offer professional restaurant photography in Dubai, Doha, Riyadh and beyond.  If you’d like to learn more about booking a shoot to showcase your restaurant, please get in touch.