“Oh good God look at that burger” you might hear the lay-person say from time to time while scrolling through Instagram. What is it about a stunning food photograph that could evoke such strong emotion?
Well… a lot of things.
Food sustains us all, so it’s natural that the majority of people find it appealing. However, interest in food doesn’t necessarily mean it will look great in a picture. Some of this difference in appeal is based solely off of preferences, but other times it can be traced back to the stylistic choices made when composing the photograph.
Easily the most impactful aspect in any food photo is the subject itself. Successful food photographers won’t be posting a far away shot of a few bowls of pasta or a dark, indiscernible steak picture. They will be focusing on one of a variety of aspects of the food that viewers find most appealing. Whether it’s gooey cheese, glistening juices, or perfect char, food photographers ensure they are highlighting something that, whether consciously or subconsciously, makes viewers want what they are picturing.
To create a desired effect, photographers carefully choose their equipment. While modern phones do take excellent pictures, macro or portrait lenses on professional cameras are often better for food photography since they can capture minute detail and sufficiently blur the background so the food stands out. Post-production can also be vital to food pictures. Vibrant colors are always better than dull ones, and higher contrast can take a photo from average to excellent very quickly. These steps create intentionally well-defined food pictures that are natural for viewers to desire.
How then, are beautiful food pictures be a good thing for restaurants’ marketing strategies?
Today, most food, at restaurants at least, is created specifically so it comes off as appealing in pictures. This means that food arrangement is now an important marketing function of restaurants and cafés. By creating gorgeous plates, even the average person without expensive camera equipment can post pictures in which the restaurant’s food looks delicious. Additionally, establishments know that potential customers hunt for new eateries with their stomachs, so the food they present on social media and on their website needs to be enticing. Restaurants, then, combine menu formulation, food preparation, photography, and digital media to make one coherent marketing strategy in which their food comes off as something that can’t be missed.
A successful food-marketing strategy online means a higher likelihood that customers will choose a given restaurant in a search when deciding where to eat. It creates endless content online that gives food the prominence to sell itself.