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10 Tips to Menu Food Photography: Part 2

Welcome to the second in a series, where I speak to using photography effectively in your overall restaurant marketing strategy. Check out the first one here, and find the original article on my blog.

In the first instalment, I took a look at 5 tips that will help you set the basis for using photography: including texture and lighting, and consistency. In this second and final post, I give you some hints on how to work with a hired photographer to achieve the proper look for your brand.

  1. Hire the Right Photographer

There are so many photographers to choose from. Finding one that has a lot of experience in food is definitely a must, as working with food is a category on it’s own. So hiring the your best friends wedding photographer may not be the best route. I have put together personal list of local photographers who's work is definitely something to admire. In no particular order:

James Tse | Heather Shaw | Shanghoon | Vince Noguchi | Micheal Alberstat | Rob Fiocca | Sracey Bradford | Ryan Szulc | Colin Faulkner | Micheal Crichton | Mark Burstyn | Jim Norton  | Nick Ghattas

I also came across a post which had some really great international food photographers as well. See here.

  1. Leave smart phones to Instagram

Of course just going out and getting a good ol’ Cannon camera is not your key to great food photography but can help you understand the art. I did came across this hilarious, tight-budget photo session done by photographers with an iPhone that is very impressive. But again left to the professionals.

Although smartphones, more so then not can come in handy especially for your Instagram feed. If you want to gain some social recognition definitely invite and respond to your customers taking food shots, using those Instagram filters to embellish and woo. But again leave it to social media, not your menu. It can definitely look a little amateur when you can call out which filter is being used on your menu.

Regarding promotional content; check out this post with some great smart phone tips.

  1. Understanding Expectation

One of the largest aspects of food photography is forming expectation and for this reason alone, many restaurants leave out photos all together. Once you have placed an image of your food on your menu and it comes up short of anything less than that photo; you have killed your customers expectation. Leaving a person mislead will result in never seeing that customer again because they sum up the experience as misleading.

Accuracy of photos is very important. Even though they may be stylized to please the eye, they should still resemble the dishes that will be brought to your customers. In detail; misleading portions, quantity, quality and overall look of the dish can make your customers feel bamboozled.

Consumers have and will always form expectations. They measure their perception to what they have seen and experienced in the past so you do not want to come up short.

  1. Work Together

Sometimes when running a restaurant, you loose sight of what and who is around you. Is your wait staff in school? Particularly for photography? I was watching a TedTalk where Gabriel Stulman explained how one of his staff members was a photographer. Recognizing his abilities and got him to photograph one of his restaurants. The employee was so grateful that he saw his potential.

As I mentioned hiring food photographers can be pricy, so if you do have a strict budget and a resourceful staff always weigh out your best options. Although don't veto hiring a food photographer as you will be happy with the value it brings to your menu.

  1. Examples

Below are some examples I have come across that work beautifully and in line with their establishment and brand.

Kelseys Menu Design — Food Photography: Brandon Barre 


Menu Design for KIRKOS Bar Resto by MANIFITO Group


This Digital Menu from Creative Mints; although a concept design it is very well thought out, with a beautiful appeal of the main image to grab your attention.


Alternates to food photography is illustration. This doesn't sway the expectation of the customer while giving off a creative feel.  Irving & Co. | Art of the Menu : Continental Miami


Simple Food Photography. It gives a hint of ingredients or a subtle look into what is being used. Grids&Grids


Although this is a Foodland Ontario recipe brochure and not a menu but has some similar elements that apply, and can work really well on a menu. The layout and use of photography is beautifully executed.  Design Agency : Leo Burnett | Food Photography : Rob Fiocca


Red Lobster Fest Menu — This is case there majority of the menu is designed with food photography, although it limits the amount by focussing on four particular dishes.



Although I do not vouch for stock food photography especially on a menu (because it should ideally be your own food) but here is a stock photography site that may help with food imagery and possibly marketing materials. It also has a page dedicated to it’s contributors which you can maybe find local photographers in your area.

I have found an agency in Toronto that sources food photographers called Walden Design. They can source out the best photographer for your needs.

If you do want to learn more about food photography in your spare time there is an online course that I have heard is pretty good as well.


Hope you enjoyed this post and let me know if I've missed anything on Twitter or Facebook. Or see the original post here.

Cheers, Ashley Howell




Graphic Designer; Ashley Howell provides creative services for restaurateurs and businesses in hospitality. If you would like a quote or have questions please get in touch today! Read the stories behind Avid Creative. Or get seasonal updates with the Avid Creative Newsletter.


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