Sapulpa Restaurants: Make your food stand out online with these photo tips.

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When we first started the Facebook Group, there was a certain restaurant that was right there with us from almost the beginning. They were one of our most loyal activists, constantly making updates to the group. While I was glad to have one of our local businesses posting, there was a key ingredient missing: their posts were always text. No photos. Ever. Finally, I began to just nudge them a little. “We’d love to see photos of your food!” It took them awhile, but they got on board, and began posting photos of their specials.

When it comes to online marketing—particularly in social media—there’s a great advantage to using photos. A study from 2013 showed that 44% of people engaged with a social media post that had a photo included. Another study showed that people replied or retweeted a post twice as much if there was a photo with it. If you didn’t know, on social media, engagement is the name of the game. Likes, reposts, comments…these are what lead to the sale.

Everyone has a camera these days on their phone—and the ability to share it immediately—but not everyone knows how to take great photos of their food. Let me share with you a few ways to see the difference between a good food photo and a not-so-good one.

Check out our (poorly-lit) hamburger special!

this sapulpa restaurant has great food, but lousy presentation
Sadly, this restaurant is no longer open today.

This is probably a great-tasting burger. Look at size of that thing! And yo, those aren’t shoestring fries, those are steakfries, son. Yes, this burger probably tastes great. But if you’re presenting it this way online, you’re selling yourself short. What we have here is mostly a top-down view (at a slight angle, but could be better) and a harsh overhead light, coupled with a very dark room and dark backdrop (the wooden table) make for a fuzzy, sorta bland photo. Off the top of my head, I see eight colors that should be working together here, but only the yellow is really getting a chance to pop. You lose the color of the onions and the fries in the glare. And I’m not sure, but it looks like this may have been taken with the flash on, which only serves to oversaturate the photo. So this local business makes the case for “how not to shoot a food photo.”

Now this is better!

I Am BBQ is making waves right now, and it's not hard to see why.
I Am BBQ is making waves right now, and it’s not hard to see why.

I Am BBQ is really making waves in Sapulpa right now. Despite it’s questionable name, the man behind the meat is doing his best to deliver quality all around, and people are taking notice. With this photo, he gets us closer to the perfect food photo—simple, clean, and using the best feature of the food—it’s size. There’s a good contrast in colors and the lighting is much better. There could be some work done on the background elements (the warmer in the back is a bit distracting), but the point gets across.

How to do it even better.

And no, this isn't from a Sapulpa restaurant. Sorry.
And no, this isn’t from a Sapulpa restaurant. Sorry.

Even if you don’t have a full marketing team with a great photographer, there are a few things you can do to make the most of that great plate.

Softer, more natural light. In a restaurant that doesn’t get a lot of sun, it’s tough to get the color out on your food. Move the plate closer to the window and let the natural light bring out that pop you need.

Get an action shot (if it makes sense). This photo of the pizza slice being lifted out of the whole pie make sense. It’s something we all do when eating pizza, and it serves to show how wonderfully gooey that cheese is. Is there some sort of action associated with your food? Maybe it’s the condensation dripping off the strawberry shake. Maybe it’s the steam rising from the plate of fajitas. Look at your customers eating your food and try to find ways to bring that feeling into your photography.

Experiment.  There’s not a whole lot of science going on, here. It’s about trying out a bunch of things to see what works. Every photographer knows that hundreds of photos on the editing floor are the price you pay to get that one great shot. Try new things and see what you get. Cut the sandwich in half. Plate it all by itself. Try it next to this drink, or that one. Try horizontal and vertical shots. Different angles. No limits! Just try it!

This is just to get you started, but I wholly recommend you check out and implement the ideas found in these great articles:

When you get your great photos going, be sure to share them with us on the FB Group!

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