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Visually Delicious: Capturing Amazing Menu Photos Without Hiring a Pro

Visually Delicious: Capturing Amazing  Menu Photos Without Hiring a Pro
"How do I make my dishes look as tempting in the app as they do in person?"

This is the most common question we receive from our customers right after they get their mobile app.

Food photography is important to consider when it comes to online ordering. It turns your delicious dishes into visual feasts, drawing in customers with irresistible images. Are you looking for ways to capture visually stunning menu photos to highlight your offerings without spending a lot of money on a professional photographer? You're not alone. The good news is, with a few tips and tricks, you can take professional-looking photos using just your smartphone.

An AI generated Croissant
image

Food Photography Tips and Tricks for Restaurants

Many of our restaurant customers ask how they can take appealing menu photos for their Per Diem app without hiring an expensive food photographer. Here are some tips and tricks to capture visually stunning menu photos using just your smartphone:

Natural Light is Best

Avoid using flash, which can create harsh shadows and an unnatural look. Instead, photograph near a window for soft, diffused light. For an evenly lit photo, turn on additional room lights.

Get Creative with Angles and Composition

Play around with different angles, like directly overhead or at a 45° angle. Shoot from multiple angles to get the most eye-catching option. Frame the dish attractively by incorporating ingredients, table settings, or backgrounds. Get up close to highlight details or capture the dish as a whole. A shallow depth of field can make the subject pop.

Use Simple Editing Tools

Free apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom Mobile allow you to improve lighting, color, and composition. Make small adjustments to brightness, contrast, and warmth for a polished look. Use the sharpening tool to bring out details.

Keep it Clean and Consistent

A simple, uncluttered background like a wood table, stone surface or patterned linen elevates your photos. Keep backgrounds consistent for a cohesive feed. Wipe away any crumbs or spills and consider garnishes to make the dish shine.

With some experimenting, you'll be capturing stunning menu photos to showcase your delicious dishes on Per Diem in no time. Your mouthwatering photos will have customers lining up to order from your app!

Choosing the Right Backgrounds and Props

Choosing the right backgrounds and props for your menu photos can make a big difference in capturing appetizing images. As a restaurant owner on a budget, you want options that are affordable yet professional-looking.

Minimalist solid color backdrops

A simple solid color backdrop is an easy, inexpensive choice. Colors like gray, black, or navy blue work well for most foods. The solid color helps the food stand out while appearing stylish. You can find rolls of paper, fabric, or vinyl backdrops in these colors for around $30. For a DIY option, paint a sheet of plywood or mount a piece of felt or suede to a board.

Rustic wood or stone

Wood boards, butcher blocks, and stone backgrounds give photos a rustic, artisanal feel that pairs nicely with many cuisines. You can find wood boards starting at $20. For stone, tile a concrete paver or use a remnant of countertop stone. These surfaces can also double as a food preparation area in your kitchen.

Glassware and cutlery

Strategically placed glassware, plates and cutlery make for an attractive food photo prop. Clear glasses allow the color of the food and drink to shine through. Look for simple, streamlined shapes that won’t detract from the star of the show—your delicious menu items. For a minimal upcharge, you can have your logo or name etched on the glassware for a custom look.

With some inexpensive DIY solutions and materials in your restaurant, you can create photo backdrops and props perfect for capturing tempting shots of your dishes to feature on your online menu. Your customers will appreciate the extra effort in presenting your culinary offerings in their best light. Focusing on backgrounds and accents that highlight your food rather than overpowering it is key. Keep things simple but stylish, just like the fare you expertly prepare each day.

Case Studies: Chip City and Coffee Dose's Menu Visuals

When developing an online ordering app for your restaurant or cafe, visually appealing menu photos are key to attracting customers and highlighting your offerings. Two Per Diem customers, Chip City and Coffee Dose, provide excellent examples of menu photos done well without hiring a professional photographer.

Chip City, a popular cookie shop, keeps its menu photos as irresistible as its in-store vibes. You can feel the sweetness and crumbleness right when you scroll through their menu in the app. They use a basic white background to keep the focus on their delicious cookies. With photos of each menu item, customers know exactly what they're ordering.

Coffee Dose, a specialty coffee shop, takes an artistic approach to their menu photos. They use the same color vibrant backgrounds for different categories and natural lighting to capture the essence of their brand. Photos of their lattes, cappuccinos, and cold brews make customers thirsty for one of their expertly crafted beverages. Coffee Dose also includes photos of add-ons like bacon, avocado, and eggs.

Any restaurant or cafe can achieve similar results without a big budget. A basic camera, natural lighting, an interesting background, and some simple food styling are all you need. Use a tripod to keep the camera steady and take multiple shots at different angles. Get up close for details and include garnishes or extras to make the food pop. Use free photo editing tools to adjust color, crop, sharpen, and add final touches.

With mouthwatering menu photos highlighting your culinary offerings, your customers will be eager to start ordering from your online app or menu. Using the examples set by Chip City, Coffee Dose, and your creative vision, you can build stunning menu photos and watch your sales grow.

Free Tools to Edit and Enhance Your Food Photos

We have gathered some handy yet effective tools and tips in this section, so you can take high-quality photos yourself.

Snapseed

In Snapseed, you can perform selective editing, a game-changer for food photography. Instead of adjusting the entire image at once, focus on specific areas. Enhance the reds in your carrots and tomatoes, keep leafy greens vibrant, and make corn pop with a beautiful yellow. Snapseed stands out with its fantastic text templates – perfect for adding dish names or watermarks seamlessly to your photos.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express offers basic but high-quality photo editing features for free. As an entry-level version of the industry-standard Photoshop, it provides an easy way to adjust color, lighting, clarity, and more. Apply filters like "Warmth" and "Saturation" to make your menu items glow. While less advanced than Spyne or YouCam Perfect, Photoshop Express is a simple but effective tool for enhancing your food photos.

Midjourney

Midjourney is another amazing AI tool in the food photography industry. It can craft visually enticing dishes without the need for any hands-on equipment handling.

By inputting the correct prompt, Midjourney's AI engine can generate a captivating image, translating each word of your text description into visual form within seconds.

Dall-E

Dall-E can generate multiple realistic free mouth-watering images for you in seconds too. All you need to learn is 'Prompt Engineering' because these AI tools cannot give you good results by default. You might be wondering if an AI tool can produce a 3D latte overflowing from the cup or a lifelike heart-shaped taco dish. The answer is—yes, it can.

Here are some tips for giving the right prompt to the AI tool to get the desired photo:

  • Select the cuisine type for the desired image representation.
  • Provide a detailed description of the dish, including ingredients, colors, textures, and special features.
  • Decide on the preferred photograph angle to make images visually interesting and showcase the dish's best features.
  • Choose the lighting type to ensure well-lit and visually appealing images.

With free tools like these at your fingertips, you can capture stunning images of your culinary creations to share on your mobile app or website. Your mouthwatering photos will have customers lining up to order and experience your delicious fare for themselves.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, creating mouth-watering menu photos for your Per Diem online ordering app doesn't require expensive equipment or hiring a professional photographer. With some practice and the right techniques, you can capture images that will have customers lining up to place an order. Focus on natural lighting, simple styling, and highlighting your signature dishes. Use free editing tools like Snapseed or VSCO to make minor adjustments and create a cohesive look across your menu photos. Your customers want to see what they're going to get, so keep the photos realistic while also appealing. If local favorites like Coffee Dose and Chip City can do it, so can you. Now, grab your camera or phone, set the scene, and get snapping - your customers and sales will thank you.

"How do I make my dishes look as tempting in the app as they do in person?"

This is the most common question we receive from our customers right after they get their mobile app.

Food photography is important to consider when it comes to online ordering. It turns your delicious dishes into visual feasts, drawing in customers with irresistible images. Are you looking for ways to capture visually stunning menu photos to highlight your offerings without spending a lot of money on a professional photographer? You're not alone. The good news is, with a few tips and tricks, you can take professional-looking photos using just your smartphone.

An AI generated Croissant
image

Food Photography Tips and Tricks for Restaurants

Many of our restaurant customers ask how they can take appealing menu photos for their Per Diem app without hiring an expensive food photographer. Here are some tips and tricks to capture visually stunning menu photos using just your smartphone:

Natural Light is Best

Avoid using flash, which can create harsh shadows and an unnatural look. Instead, photograph near a window for soft, diffused light. For an evenly lit photo, turn on additional room lights.

Get Creative with Angles and Composition

Play around with different angles, like directly overhead or at a 45° angle. Shoot from multiple angles to get the most eye-catching option. Frame the dish attractively by incorporating ingredients, table settings, or backgrounds. Get up close to highlight details or capture the dish as a whole. A shallow depth of field can make the subject pop.

Use Simple Editing Tools

Free apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom Mobile allow you to improve lighting, color, and composition. Make small adjustments to brightness, contrast, and warmth for a polished look. Use the sharpening tool to bring out details.

Keep it Clean and Consistent

A simple, uncluttered background like a wood table, stone surface or patterned linen elevates your photos. Keep backgrounds consistent for a cohesive feed. Wipe away any crumbs or spills and consider garnishes to make the dish shine.

With some experimenting, you'll be capturing stunning menu photos to showcase your delicious dishes on Per Diem in no time. Your mouthwatering photos will have customers lining up to order from your app!

Choosing the Right Backgrounds and Props

Choosing the right backgrounds and props for your menu photos can make a big difference in capturing appetizing images. As a restaurant owner on a budget, you want options that are affordable yet professional-looking.

Minimalist solid color backdrops

A simple solid color backdrop is an easy, inexpensive choice. Colors like gray, black, or navy blue work well for most foods. The solid color helps the food stand out while appearing stylish. You can find rolls of paper, fabric, or vinyl backdrops in these colors for around $30. For a DIY option, paint a sheet of plywood or mount a piece of felt or suede to a board.

Rustic wood or stone

Wood boards, butcher blocks, and stone backgrounds give photos a rustic, artisanal feel that pairs nicely with many cuisines. You can find wood boards starting at $20. For stone, tile a concrete paver or use a remnant of countertop stone. These surfaces can also double as a food preparation area in your kitchen.

Glassware and cutlery

Strategically placed glassware, plates and cutlery make for an attractive food photo prop. Clear glasses allow the color of the food and drink to shine through. Look for simple, streamlined shapes that won’t detract from the star of the show—your delicious menu items. For a minimal upcharge, you can have your logo or name etched on the glassware for a custom look.

With some inexpensive DIY solutions and materials in your restaurant, you can create photo backdrops and props perfect for capturing tempting shots of your dishes to feature on your online menu. Your customers will appreciate the extra effort in presenting your culinary offerings in their best light. Focusing on backgrounds and accents that highlight your food rather than overpowering it is key. Keep things simple but stylish, just like the fare you expertly prepare each day.

Case Studies: Chip City and Coffee Dose's Menu Visuals

When developing an online ordering app for your restaurant or cafe, visually appealing menu photos are key to attracting customers and highlighting your offerings. Two Per Diem customers, Chip City and Coffee Dose, provide excellent examples of menu photos done well without hiring a professional photographer.

Chip City, a popular cookie shop, keeps its menu photos as irresistible as its in-store vibes. You can feel the sweetness and crumbleness right when you scroll through their menu in the app. They use a basic white background to keep the focus on their delicious cookies. With photos of each menu item, customers know exactly what they're ordering.

Coffee Dose, a specialty coffee shop, takes an artistic approach to their menu photos. They use the same color vibrant backgrounds for different categories and natural lighting to capture the essence of their brand. Photos of their lattes, cappuccinos, and cold brews make customers thirsty for one of their expertly crafted beverages. Coffee Dose also includes photos of add-ons like bacon, avocado, and eggs.

Any restaurant or cafe can achieve similar results without a big budget. A basic camera, natural lighting, an interesting background, and some simple food styling are all you need. Use a tripod to keep the camera steady and take multiple shots at different angles. Get up close for details and include garnishes or extras to make the food pop. Use free photo editing tools to adjust color, crop, sharpen, and add final touches.

With mouthwatering menu photos highlighting your culinary offerings, your customers will be eager to start ordering from your online app or menu. Using the examples set by Chip City, Coffee Dose, and your creative vision, you can build stunning menu photos and watch your sales grow.

Free Tools to Edit and Enhance Your Food Photos

We have gathered some handy yet effective tools and tips in this section, so you can take high-quality photos yourself.

Snapseed

In Snapseed, you can perform selective editing, a game-changer for food photography. Instead of adjusting the entire image at once, focus on specific areas. Enhance the reds in your carrots and tomatoes, keep leafy greens vibrant, and make corn pop with a beautiful yellow. Snapseed stands out with its fantastic text templates – perfect for adding dish names or watermarks seamlessly to your photos.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express offers basic but high-quality photo editing features for free. As an entry-level version of the industry-standard Photoshop, it provides an easy way to adjust color, lighting, clarity, and more. Apply filters like "Warmth" and "Saturation" to make your menu items glow. While less advanced than Spyne or YouCam Perfect, Photoshop Express is a simple but effective tool for enhancing your food photos.

Midjourney

Midjourney is another amazing AI tool in the food photography industry. It can craft visually enticing dishes without the need for any hands-on equipment handling.

By inputting the correct prompt, Midjourney's AI engine can generate a captivating image, translating each word of your text description into visual form within seconds.

Dall-E

Dall-E can generate multiple realistic free mouth-watering images for you in seconds too. All you need to learn is 'Prompt Engineering' because these AI tools cannot give you good results by default. You might be wondering if an AI tool can produce a 3D latte overflowing from the cup or a lifelike heart-shaped taco dish. The answer is—yes, it can.

Here are some tips for giving the right prompt to the AI tool to get the desired photo:

  • Select the cuisine type for the desired image representation.
  • Provide a detailed description of the dish, including ingredients, colors, textures, and special features.
  • Decide on the preferred photograph angle to make images visually interesting and showcase the dish's best features.
  • Choose the lighting type to ensure well-lit and visually appealing images.

With free tools like these at your fingertips, you can capture stunning images of your culinary creations to share on your mobile app or website. Your mouthwatering photos will have customers lining up to order and experience your delicious fare for themselves.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, creating mouth-watering menu photos for your Per Diem online ordering app doesn't require expensive equipment or hiring a professional photographer. With some practice and the right techniques, you can capture images that will have customers lining up to place an order. Focus on natural lighting, simple styling, and highlighting your signature dishes. Use free editing tools like Snapseed or VSCO to make minor adjustments and create a cohesive look across your menu photos. Your customers want to see what they're going to get, so keep the photos realistic while also appealing. If local favorites like Coffee Dose and Chip City can do it, so can you. Now, grab your camera or phone, set the scene, and get snapping - your customers and sales will thank you.

Doron Segal
Doron Segal

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky
Tomer Molovinsky

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Ashley Rodriguez
Ashley Rodriguez

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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