Learn below our top tips on How to take the best restaurant food photos. Here’s how to make your restaurant, food, dish and drink photos stand out on your social media and website.

Brought to you by Mau, a Senior professional photographer and marketer at eDigital.


Thousands of restaurant owners creating some of the top yummiest healthy food also want to get the best photos their dishes deserve.

Some of our best Instagram virtual assistants have discovered food lovers get inspired by top-quality photos to decide the restaurants they visit.

And, whether your customer service has not been that great or your restaurant business is yet to meet marketing objectives, creating a great set of restaurant photos is a great way to increase brand preference and trust which ultimately will boost sales, profits and value of your restaurant (in case you decide to sell it later on).

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A restaurant marketing trend across Instagram is utilising flat-lay photography!

Both restaurant owners and food bloggers alike photograph tables from a bird’s eye view to create the amazing effect we’ve come so used to seeing on Instagram. Yes, it may be slightly embarrassing standing on a chair to nail the shot, but it’s what you’ve got to do if you want your Instagram profile to stand out (or hopefully your customers will do most of it for you.

This is another reason to have statement furniture or ornaments to make your tables really pop on Instagram!

Think photo-first: whether it’s flowers, napkins with eye-catching patterns or any pretty embellishments — anything that makes it irresistibly photogenic will make a difference.

Marketers are using > The best creative photography brief template.


  • Take both photos with customers and photos when the restaurant is empty. I much prefer photos of restaurants with customers enjoying the space.
  • Everything should be nice and clean.
  • If your restaurant has great views, ensure some of the photos have great views in their background.
  • Tell your photographer to zoom in on the unique details your restaurant has.
  • If you have a garden restaurant with plenty of live green plants and trees you want to showcase it nicely with some great photography.
  • Avoid using fake (faux) artificial plants in your photography, people will also think you use fake or artificial ingredients in your food.
  • Ensure you try sunset light to bring to life your interior decor with the lights on.
food photography lighting photo example seafood poke bowl hawaiian dish

food photography lighting photo example seafood poke bowl Hawaiian dish

Popular this month > How to write the best photography brief


  • Use the right lens that allows you to zoom in nicely into the plate.
  • Make the photo feel like it is going to be eaten by a customer, not too perfect or over-curated.


Ensure the light is not too overexposed or under-exposed, I prefer a little over-exposure. Good lighting is important to restaurant marketing for both you and your food photography, and the shots that your customers will take and share on social media!

Natural lighting lends itself well to Instagram, particularly for those accounts aiming for a pale theme or feed colour palette. However, even if your restaurant (and therefore Instagram feed) is dark, you should always try to photograph your food in well-lit settings.

Try photographing your food near a window or use artificial light in a successful way that suits your Instagram feed.

restaurant photography tips bright dark light comparison

restaurant photography tips bright dark light comparison

If you’re promoting new dishes or seasonal specials on Instagram, take the photos on a table with the best natural lighting, or even outside. Avoid photographing food during completely direct sunlight though, as it can overexpose the shot and also give cause harsh shadows. The most important thing is to stay consistent with your restaurant marketing, brand, and Instagram theme!

Chefs are reading > The top 25 healthy food hashtags on Instagram


Yes, that’s right. Great well-located items create a unique story that immerses your senses and makes people book a table at your restaurant.

The photo angle and lighting of your food photography should emphasise the dish at the forefront of the photo. A great idea is to have a variety of table props enhancing your dish photo, however, you have to be careful the props do not detract attention from the dish and/or drink.

Depending on your Instagram theme, you might create compositions that are particularly colourful, or contrastingly only use items of a similar colour that complement one another. Decorative items that make the content more eye-catching, without taking the limelight are ideal.

Restaurant owners are reading > This year’s top 10 latest healthy food market trends


  • Turn on “grid” in settings to line up shots.
  • Pick a simple, neutral background. Most of the time, all food looks good on white dishes or on a white backdrop. White/grey marble surfaces or wooden backgrounds look great with nearly any food as well. Parchment paper is a great DIY food backdrop surface if you want to get messy with your styling and don’t have the budget for a nicer backdrop.
  • Garnish the dish with fresh herbs, flaked salt, seeds, etc. Add more visual interest to a boring dish with toppings. Fresh green herbs are great if they make sense for the dish since they add nice colours to the dish.
  • Experiment with adding a hand to the frame.  Adding a human element such as a hand can bring fun and tell a different visual story. Ask a friend to be a hand model reaching for food or serving the photographed dish. You use your hand too if you have a tripod and a timer 🙂
  • Avoid shooting in dark places — daylight is ideal. It’s very difficult to take beautiful photos in dark places. I highly recommend that you use daylight to shoot your restaurant photos. A candle or a flash from your phone’s camera just won’t be able to capture what a restaurant or dish looks like in real life. If you MUST take a photo of the food at night, have a friend (or two) turn on their phone flashlights. Then hold the light evenly over your dish. If your natural light source is too bright, diffuse the light using a white curtain, bedsheet, or even a piece of paper. Reflect the light with some white foam board set up directly across from the source of light, this will reduce harsh shadows.
  • Try a few angles before you share the best shot.  The first photo you shoot might not be your best, add a little extra time trying out different angles of the same dish to make sure the final photo is the best. Sometimes a dish looks better from above. Sometimes you may want to photograph it from the side to show off the layers of a cake or a delicious piece of sushi. There’s no one way to do it.
  • Step back or zoom out to capture more.  The texture of your dish may look interesting in person, but it’s hard to capture. Getting too close with your camera also misses an opportunity to show off other cool details and a festive, full spread of dishes. My tip is to take a step back to photograph the full dish as well as other items on the table. That way the space and vibe of the restaurant will also come through.
  • Shoot horizontally AND vertically. Horizontal photos are optimal for Google Maps and Facebook page covers. Vertical photos are optimal for Pinterest. When shooting horizontally, think about the square part you want to share on Instagram.
  • Add personality to your photo. Take a bite, leave some crumbs and let the yolk run. Eat and play with your food! Take a shot as soon as it’s delivered to your table, but then get another one after you’ve taken a bite. Some foods look even better after you’ve had a bite, take a slice, or let it melt a bit. It lets the viewer imagine how great the taste of the dish is!
  • Enhance natural colours, but don’t overdo it. There are so many great photo editing apps to enhance the natural colours, exposure, and white balance in your photos. Over-saturating colours will make your dish look unnatural. Similarly, overexposing your photos will make them strangely bright and white. Just enhance the natural colours, which should be intact once you get to post-processing if you used good natural light to shoot.

Trending >> Print this best Allergen Guide sheet template so your customers know what they are eating.

Allergen guide sheet template

Allergen guide sheet template


  • Have at least two or three different lenses for different purposes.
  • A 50mm f/1.2 can help you with detailed photos of dishes.
  • A 24mm f/2.8 is great for wide-angle photos without being fish-angle.


Nothing beats a hands-on demo, so Google Local Guides will have live-streaming workshops each week from popular restaurants around the world.


Hiring a professional restaurant and food photographer will for sure add value to the entire branding of your restaurant. A professional photo session can give you access to photos for the entire visual marketing needs.

A professional photographer will give you access to top-quality images including:

  • Food photos for your printed menus and social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc)
  • Photos for your Google Maps listing including 360 inside views
  • Vertical photos for your Pinterest account.
  • Portrait photography of your restaurant team, head chef and owners which are great for your marketing and PR activities
  • Exterior photos of your restaurant. This can include your garden or patio.
  • Aerial photography. To show people where exactly your restaurant is located.

You will also like > Learn how to write the best photography brief


Once you have your top best quality restaurant photos is important to share them on some key channels with the right mentions and add some of the top 25 most popular food hashtags on TikTok.


  • @mynewroots: beautifully photographed, nature-inspired vegetarian treats that are sure to leave you hungry.
  • @thesashadiaries: Sasha Gill, vegan foods that are nearly every colour you can imagine.
  • @3.bunnies: vegan creative couple presenting delicious dishes in aesthetically pleasing ways.
  • @lifeofavegetarian: yummy vegetarian recipes and signature lunch boxes.
  • @thevegspace: wonderful vegan & vegetarian snacks and meals whipped up with love, almost all of which can be made in an instant.
  • @myberryforest: berries and bright fruits photography
  • @vegankrizzleybear: Vibrant, vegan dish photographs any restaurant owner will envy.
  • @thisrawsomeveganlife: Dessert photography, you can find recipes and photos of delicious, vegan sweets and treats.
  •  @gkstories: vegetarian pizza photos, salads, doughnuts and much more.
  • @thrivingonplants: vegan foodie pictures to make your mouth water.
  • @gingervegan: background food photography of vegan treats with a fresh feel.
Food Photography tips Google Local Guides Connect July 2017

Food Photography tips Google Local Guides Connect July 2017

Running an event at your restaurant and need the best photos?

You should read our “How to brief a photographer for an event” article.

eDigital can help you conceptualise, plan, develop, run and optimise successful food marketing campaigns that generate leads and sales for your brand.

Our digital marketing services include:

  • Strategic planning for social media and other digital marketing channels.
  • Online advertising management and optimisation: Google Ads Search, Display, Re-marketing and social media advertising.
  • Marketing training: social media training and digital marketing training. 
  • SEO strategy and execution. Including content development:articles, stories, eye-catching and SEO-optimised visuals.
  • Celebrity and influencer marketing campaign strategy. 
  • Brand development. Logo creation, brand personality development and design of marketing materials.
  • Consumer contests/competitions/giveaways.
  • Email marketing. Dip sequence design and deployment. 
  • Conversion rate optimisation. It is also called “path to purchase” optimisation. 

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