How to shoot delivery platform food photos like a pro

5 simple steps restaurateurs can take to optimize their imagery for online ordering platforms.

The delivery evolution 

It’s no secret that online ordering is increasing rapidly with 31% of US adults using third-party delivery services at least twice a week, and 60% of them ordering delivery or takeout once a week. Since 2014, the digital ordering/delivery industry has grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic. This evolution in the way we eat requires restaurateurs to consider many new things - from how you bring the experience of dining at a restaurant to homes, to how you find efficiency in what can be endless orders on endless tablets, to how you make your restaurant stand out from others on the delivery platforms themselves. Otter helps with every aspect of finding success in delivery by partnering with restaurateurs to make their delivery business as successful and efficient as possible.

The art and science of finding success in online-ordering

Certain aspects of finding success in delivery are more science than art, but standing out from competitors on delivery platforms might be more art than science - how your brand looks on delivery platforms could drive increased orders. So how can you make your restaurant and food look as good as it does in real life, online? We chatted with a local food photographer to learn 5 easy steps that will make your food photography distinct, consistent, and appealing. Luckily, taking incredible photos of your menu items for delivery platforms only takes a smartphone, a window, a white binder, a bright tablecloth, and some garnishes. 

Succeed In Delivery Restaurants

5 simple steps to taking food photos like a pro 

Otter succeed in delivery banner
Step 1 - Grab your smartphone and head to the table closest to the window. 

It’s all about the lighting (well it’s about the consistency, humanity, and angles too, but we’ll get to that later). “When shooting food photography, working with natural light is best. Natural light ensures that your menu items look clear and real.”  If you notice that using natural light results in shadows on the food, don’t stress. “Grab a white binder, white piece of paper, or even a white apron and hold it up to the table, opposite the window. This bounces the light from the window back on to your plate, filling in shadows and making the item look a bit brighter.” 

Make Menu Look Good Delivery
Petite Taqueria
Image Source - The H.Wood Group
Step 2 - Set a reminder to shoot every round of food photography at the same time.

If you shoot one round of food photography from 1-2 pm on a bright sunny day, make sure that you try to match that time and lighting for each subsequent round. “Shooting all your imagery at around the same time guarantees that all your menu items look like they come from the same place, no matter how different the items are themselves.. I think around midday is best - this keeps all your imagery vibrant and lively.”

Take Great Delivery Food Photos
Ben & Jerry's
Image Source - Ben & Jerry's
Step 3 - Use a bright, unique background. 

Delivery platforms are full of stimulation - endless logos, delicious food, and bright colors. One shortcut to standing out on delivery platforms is using a consistent, bright base color. Before shooting your food on a white tablecloth or wooden table, think about your logo - is your key color green? Red? Blue? Take note of your brand’s color palette, and then scroll through a delivery platform to see what colors your competitors highlight. If your key color is green and your biggest competitor uses green as a key base color in their food photography, perhaps opt for one of your secondary colors, or a contrasting color. From there, find a tablecloth in that shade - if you don’t have a tablecloth, a large sheet of paper works too. "Utilizing a consistent base color helps your brand stay consistent and stand out from competitors," and best case scenario, grabs a potential customer’s attention instantly – leading to an order.

How to shoot good food photos
Delilah
Image Source - The H.Wood Group
Step 4 - Add a little life.

When you scroll through a delivery platform, you might notice that most restaurants simply show a plated dish on a plain background. While all a potential customer might receive in their order is the food itself, evoking an experience could help your restaurant stand out. “Even just one extra garnish makes an image feel more lively” -  experiment with adding a textured napkin, unique piece of glassware, ingredient, foliage or nice cutlery. As you discover which garnishes look best in your imagery, you can continue using those same details in future photos.

Delivery Food Photos
Pressed Juicery
Image Source - Pressed Juicery
Step 5 - Stand over the table (or on a chair if you need to) and get a direct overhead shot of the food.

At this point, you’ve found your perfect window, made the lighting bright with help from a white apron, discovered a distinct background to help you stand out from the competition, and added touches of life. Your table is set, now it’s time to eat! ...Well, no, first you have to take the photos, then you can eat. “If you’re shooting on a smartphone, the three-quarter angle that many food photographers use could result in the menu item looking distorted. Shooting overhead is the best way to get an accurate image of your food on a smartphone.”

These 5 steps might require a little more time than your regular food photography process, but it’s worth it. “People today are so used to seeing perfect images of food, and everything, on Instagram. You don’t need to need to have taken photography classes or own a nice camera to get images that match the photo quality people are used to today, it  just takes a little extra time and attention to detail.”

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