How to Take Menu Photos Like The Pros

By Ariana ChomitzSep 1st, 2022

Take menu photos that are designed to boost sales by using good lighting and a neutral background

Top performing ChowNow partners know that menu photos help to showcase both brand and food, giving diners the same delicious experience online that they find in store—all while increasing takeout revenue by 30 percent.  Studying examples from successful restaurants that use photos to stand out, our own designers at ChowNow explain how to get the shot.

It’s easy to follow these tips—just grab a smartphone and a plated dish!

Ronan uses a birds-eye angle to show off their pizzas

Ronan finds their angles

Ronan serves some of Los Angeles’s favorite wood-fired pizzas and calzones. A quick scroll through their menu shows a simple, top-down approach that showcases their plated food against a dark countertop.

Designer Lauren Pettersen loves this strategy. “Birds-eye views show off pizzas and pastas in all their glory,” she says, “while sandwiches or burritos should be cut in half and placed at an angle to display what’s inside.” You can copy Ronan’s simple backgrounds by finding a table near a window to get the best natural light.

ingrained matches their photos to their brand with a whimsical background color

ingrained lights it up

Chicago’s ingrained makes healthy, raw-ingredient snacks with a sense of humor—apparent in the fun, bright backgrounds they use for menu photos. 

Designer Sencia Kim appreciates how ingrained doesn’t fall into a common trap of photographing food too closely. “The angle is wide enough to show what I’m getting, but I can still see pieces of fruit in each layer,” she says. Sencia points out that the light they use seems bright but natural, which captures details better while making the food look its most appealing.

Buddha Bodai shoots plates at an angle for eyecatching movement

Buddha Bodai picks a pattern

Buddha Bodai’s Chinese-Kosher-Vegetarian menu fills a uniquely New York niche for comfort food. Their food photos capture the cozy clutter of a many-plated dim sum experience, but the way they crop their images gives each dish its own spotlight.

Designer Liliana Padilla applauds the consistency in their menu photos’ lighting, plating, and backgrounds. “The pattern they create makes me want to keep scrolling for more, and it helps build trust with diners,” she says. She encourages restaurants to play around with positioning plates like Buddha Bodai does; “The way they angle the dishes creates eye-catching movement.”

Whether you’re showcasing pizza or pastries, following these professional guidelines for good menu photos will put your food in the best light possible–while helping your online takeout sales, too.

Once you try these tips at your own restaurant, it’s easy to upload them to your menu in your Dashboard. Happy snapping!

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