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Successful Photo Shoots

Posted on Friday, October 05, 2012, by Fenwick Snowdon

The quality of images on your website can make or break your entire online marketing strategy. It's as simple as this - websites that contain unprofessional, poor quality images do not convert as well as websites that contain professionally taken and carefully thought out images of your venue, food and atmosphere. And if they are really poor quality, they could be causing real damage to your brand, image and bottom line. 

Of course the images need to be shown off in the right way on your website, but we'll cover this in a later post. For now, I want to draw on my experience of the over 250 restaurant photo shoots. So here's a few tips to help you successfully manage your next shoot and keep it within budget. 

Tip 1 - Plan Your Photo Shoot

To get outstanding results, you need a great plan. Work with your photographer and agree on an approach that will work for both of you. Some things you might like to discuss are:

  1. Budget - agree on the price you'll pay for your photo shoot. And find out how much it will cost for additional time, just in case your photo shoot runs over. It's good to know this upfront.  
  2. Time limits - agree how long your photographer will be 'on-site'. Consider 1 hour to be the absolute minimum. If you're on a strict budget, then you can just about get away with 1 hour, but you'll need to be very organised. Here's how to do this:
    1. Set your restaurant up before the photographer arrives (including any function rooms you might have)
    2. Have your props ready
      1. Red and white house wine already poured into glasses (usually, they need time after pouring for any small bubbles to burst)
      2. Three or four of your best bottles each of red and wines. These will act as backdrops.
      3. Three sets of cutlery, polished
      4. Napkins (preferably white cloth) pressed and ready to go.
      5. Any other props relevant to your type of restaurant (e.g. chop sticks for asian cuisine)
    3. Photography table - set up one table with a clean table cloth laid but otherwise empty. Remove all chairs from this table and ensure there is plenty of room around it for the photographer to work. Will your photographer bring lights? Then your photography table may need to be close to a power socket.   
    4. Make sure your kitchen is ready - food photos will need to come out at 5 minute intervals. In 1 hour you'll be able to get 7 to 10 food dishes photographed really well and have time left over for venue shots. Your kitchen needs to have all the ingredients of the dishes you will be photographing. All equipment should be ready to go (like a deep fryer for example). 
    5. Decide what dishes you'll be preparing before hand. Consider 3 to 4 entrees, 3 to 4 mains and 2 to 3 desserts. If you do great desserts, don't forget to get them photographed as dessert images really work in tempting people to your restaurant. Obviously, the mix of dishes is going to be different depending on the type of restaurant you have. 
  3. Time of day - organise your photo shoot for a time when your restaurant is either closed or won't be busy. 

Tip 2 - Management Is The Key

For a photo shoot to be successful, someone has to take control. The best person for the job will be you. Why - well, while some photographers can do this well while taking photos at the same time, they may not feel comfortable giving instructions to your chef (chefs can be scary after all). If you feel this is the case, then take management control of the photo shoot. 

Tip 3 - Get Permission

This is critical. Get a copy of the images and control over how you use them. If you can use your photos across all your marketing, photo shoots can end up being quite cost effective. 

Good Luck!





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