Should you hire a professional food photographer?

We live in a social media driven world and most people will check out a restaurant online before making a reservation (i’ve found varying statistics that ranged from 85-93% of all people). That makes your images your business card. Your photos will often be the first contact people make with your establishment, product and brand.

How do you make a decision on where to eat? I guess recommendations from others range very high, but if I don't have that, I for sure look at the photos of the food which definitely have an impact in my decision to reserve or not.

Your aim is to stand out in order to capture your clients attention and to provide an impression of quality. We form first judgements very quickly, and even if not always on a conscious level, a poor image might result in a judgement of poor food. 

The difference between professional and smartphone or amateur photography

There is one thing that the top restaurants have in common: they show food in a mouth-watering way. There are striking differences between photographs taken with a phone or even with a camera by an amateur photographer or photographer not specialised in food versus a professional food photographer:

  • A food photographer understands food and knows how to present it in its best light
  • Following up on the best light: food photographers know how to light food in a way that brings out the shapes and textures that ultimately achieve to activate our senses of touch and smell, all through a two-dimensional image - and really make that saliva flow. They also have the necessary lighting equipment.
  • Food photographers have an eye for composition, they might shoot from angles and arrange the food in a way you’ve never thought about.
  • Food photographer know what’s trending - they spend time investigating the trends, understanding what works for the competition and attracts the right audience.
  • Food photographers own the necessary equipment to provide high end images (from lights over lenses to reflectors, diffusers and more).

Now, that said, it might still be a good idea to think about your internal resources (especially if you’re on a tight budget): do you, or does anyone in the team have a good eye for food photography? Maybe own a camera? You might even think about doing a course to improve your food photography abilities (or those of someone on the team). Especially for social media, where images are required on an almost daily basis, that might be a good idea (you could still bring in a professional food photographer for photos on the website or similar). 

I, for instance, offer both general workshops and one-to-one coaching at your location so that I can help you find the best light, improve your compositions and more, all with the resources you have (and maybe recommend a few very accessible things that are useful to acquire).

The return of investment (ROI) of professional food photography 

The importance of good images is key to tell a story and to quickly build a relation with your customers. Professional photography so valuable because it:

  • creates a cohesive brand experience which leads to trust
  • captures attention and attracts new customers 
  • provides a feeling of excellence in everything you do and offer
  • leads to more social media interaction which drives engagement and engagement leads to sales
  • directly impacts sales (studies show that the purchases for items that are professionally photographed are significantly higher than for a quick phone capture)

So professional food photography is invaluable for your business. But there are a few things you can do to really maximize your return of investment. 

One of them is to think about all the ways you can use the images - maybe in the same session photos can be shot for the website, social media, brochures, flyers and an ebook (or the same photos can be used for all these purposes). 

It’s important to plan ahead as the image formats and content might vary across different mediums. 

When should you hire a professional food photographer?

I might have convinced you of the importance of professional food photography for your business, but you might still be wondering about the right moment to hire a food photographer.

The short answer might be: as soon as possible. But let’s dig a little deeper in order to help you make the correct decision. 

There are a couple of things that are useful to be clear about, before you hire a photographer:

  • Do you have an established brand identity? It might change over time, but having a defined brand identity will help to take cohesive, recognisable images that provide a brand experience that sparks confidence.
  • Do you have a marketing strategy? A marketing strategy will help you to get the most out of your images, maximising their uses across different channels and thus creating a higher return of investment. The budget you can invest in professional food photography should be a part of this strategy.
  • Your or your team’s expertise: if there is someone with a really good eye for composition, light and maybe even a good camera and sufficient knowledge to use it effectively, you might stick with amateur images for longer.

Boost your brand with professional food photography 

Impactful images that are cohesive with your brand are a powerful way to differentiate yourself, share a story and inspire. High quality custom images will stand out as ownable to your brand and will make it more memorable.

You also need high quality images for direct marketing - stock photos won’t make you unique and won't create the same emotional impact with your clients.

When your images are not excellent, you’re communicating that everything else might be below standard too.

Photos are communication tools that can deliver visual solutions and drive a brand experience more effectively and faster than any other medium.  

Custom, cohesive images provide a feeling of quality that makes your audience feel confident in your offerings. They drive engagement, make an emotional impact and are memorable. 

Is it worth it to hire a food photographer?

For those of you who rather scan than read a whole blog post, let's do a quick recap. As a professional food photographer I can help you to: 

  • Provide a first impression of quality in everything you do (which leads to trust and a high end brand experience in your customers)
  • Create images that do your food justice by really bringing out the shape, texture and color to make it shine in its best light 
  • Inspire engagement - which leads to sales
  • Stand out from the crowd with images that create an emotional impact and thus create a memorable brand experience
  • Achieve a bigger visual impact (that's just what high quality photography does)
  • Tell a brand story 

And I’m able to do that because:

  • I have specialised equipment, the best to make you food and place really stand out
  • Food styling expertise
  • Visual experience (find the right angle and composition, be aware of little things that might distract or rest value) - attention to detail is everything
  • I know the trends, I know what works for the competition and what attracts the right audience.
  • I have a PhD in neuroscience. Understanding the brain, I know how to awaken desire and to create an emotional connection.
  • Through my experience I have an aesthetic sense and knowledge (how to combine colors, etc.)
  • I provide post-production - which makes the images really shine and stand out and on-brand.

In a nutshell, the value I can provide is to take food photos in a way they awaken all senses through just vision. My photos let you feel the texture of the food, perceive the smell, hear how it would crunch if you took a bite - it connects with the viewer emotionally and thus gets the saliva flowing, generating a strong desire for the pictured food.

If you're ready to stand out, don't hesitate to contact me so that we can talk about the specific needs you have for your project.

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