The Camera Culture and Restaurants: Tips to Make Your Plates Picture-Worthy
In today’s digital, social and image-sharing culture, it’s never been more crucial to make sure that the dishes coming out of your restaurant’s kitchen are picture-worthy.
For example of what not to do, Pete Wells, restaurant critic for The New York Times, recently published a column, Your Eyes are Happier Than Your Stomach: Dishes Worthy of Instagram, but Not Your Appetite, sharing a photo of an unattractive trout dish from M. Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, NY which drew fierce online criticism after posting.
Here’s a fact. Some 200 million active monthly users post 60 million photos to Instagram per day. So with popular social media tools for taking and sharing images like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, there’s a very likely chance your guests are taking and posting photos of the food that they eat in your restaurant.
Rule of thumb: If the dish isn’t easy on the eyes, you better not serve it. But aside from making sure that your chef and kitchen staff put forth only delicious looking and tasting dishes, here are tips to help make sure your plates are ready for any camera lens.
Get the lighting right in your dining room:
Pay attention to the lighting in your dining room because if it’s too dark or bright based on different natural lighting conditions throughout the day, you risk making your perfectly delicious plates look too dull, washed or glared out. Give the food images that your guests post a fighting chance by setting the stage with the best possible lighting, adjusted for different natural lighting conditions.
Invite guests to participate in a photo sharing contest:
Host a photo sharing contest inviting your guests to snap and share their best shot of a favorite dish they enjoy in your restaurant for a chance to win a prize, such as a gift certificate toward their next visit. Use the contest as a way to get your customers to focus on taking and posting the best photo possible on their Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook pages.
Avoid seating guests near distracting or busy backgrounds:
When seating guests, choose tables for them that are not in front of any busy or distracting backgrounds. This can take away from the clarity and depth of focus of the dish itself being photographed.
Use simple, attractive dishes to plate your food:
The dishes you use to plate your food should be simple and elegant. Avoid overly bright colors and busy or clashing patterns that will take away from the beauty of the food being presented. In general, keep your plate designs and colors simple. Patterns and bright colors can also be fine as long as they don’t overwhelm the eyes. Use your best judgment when choosing your dishes.
Give the appearance of table settings some extra love:
Before the food reaches your guests at the table, give the appearance of your table settings extra care and attention. Strategically place silverware, napkins and centerpieces on the table to make sure items won’t look sloppy in the photos that your guests take.
What steps does your restaurant take to make sure that your dishes are camera-ready? Share your comments below.