Food is a multi-sensory experience. It's not just about taste.
Food has to look good - nobody wants to be put off by the look of the food they are about to eat.
We're not just talking about how the food looks on the plate in the restaurant, but also in any marketing material you use - even if it's just a quick tweet. You've put a lot of work into not only defining your brand appearance but also making the actual product look good, and that deserves good photography. And we're not just talking about food businesses either- this should be applied to ALL businesses. It will make your business look serious, professional and experienced.
When I'm not at Kitchen Garden, I'm running my own freelance photography business and I now do all photography for Kitchen Garden. It's handy (and very fortunate) for us having me as an in-house photographer, but not everybody has that luxury. So, here's my five top tips for YOUR food photography.
1) Don't shoot black and white
Black and white photography is good and I'm a fan - but not for food. Food has amazing colours and textures that will be lost entirely shooting in black and white. It also makes the food look a bit 'gone off' and not very appealing. The ONLY exception I can think of would be coffee beans - they seem to look OK black & white, just don't bother with anything else.
2) Think about depth of field (DOF)
In a nutshell, depth of field is the distance between the nearest and furthest objects in your image. When you see photos with blurry backgrounds, they have a SHALLOW depth of field. A shallow DOF will make the thing you're focusing on stand out a lot more. You don't need a posh camera and expensive lens to achieve this (see next point). More info on DOF here
3) Edit all of your photos
This is essential IMO. Everything you post on social media, or put in your advertising should look good - it'll make your business appearance far better. You don't need Photoshop - your mobile phone will do it! Download a decent image editing app - something like Snapseed gives you many many tools including presets ( filters), levels, and lets you add a shallow DOF to your photos (it's called Lens Blur in the app). Download it, take a photo and have a play around (just don't use the black and white option). Be careful not to over-edit and try not to be too 'abstract'
4) Set the scene
Lets take ketchup as an example. Don't just take a photo of a bottle of ketchup on a table. Stick a burger and a pint of beer in the background and blur them out slightly. Maybe take it on an outside table in the garden. That image then tells you EXACTLY what that product is used for. It's also worth mentioning that you should use fresh ingredients and have a good source of natural light. (tip: a light mist of water over veg raw makes them look fresher!)
5) Shoot from above
Shooting from above can often make for a really nice shot. The image at the bottom of this page is used on the front page of our website and is a good example of shooting from above. Although the image took around 4 hours (set up, lighting, editing, etc), you can also achieve a similar effect with a mobile phone. (The image taken at the top of this page was taken at the same time we did this overhead shot)
6) Bonus tip: Get the pro's in
A professional photographer knows what they are doing and have all the right kit. You buy your ingredients, you pay someone to design your branding, you pay for a cleaner, so why wouldn't you pay someone to do your photography? You can't do it all and you've jumped every other hurdle so far so it's really important not to fall at the last.
You really can't go wrong by spending some time on your photography. Not just for website, magazine or display banners but social media is one of the most powerful tools for broadcasting your business and it revolves specifically around having good photography.