Beautiful, photo-worthy food is a big deal, especially for millennials who are active on Instagram. As a result of the food photo craze, many people are making decisions about what to eat based on how food looks. Good Instagram content can reach the millennial market and increase the fan base for your restaurant — which will increase your reach and stretch your advertising budget. Keep reading for some tips on creating the perfect Instagram posts.
How to take the perfect photo
Taking Instagram photos is an art. Your photos need to be high quality, consistent and creative. Before taking a photo, you first need to decide the goal of the photo.
What is your goal?
Do you want to spark a late-night craving for your signature hot wings? Do you want to promote an upcoming event at your restaurant? Do you want to highlight your farm-to-table methods? Deciding what you want your photo to do is the first thing you need to hammer out.
Just taking photos of your food is better than nothing, but you should always have a point. It all starts with your business goals. If you want to set a goal of selling more of a signature dish, try dedicating a week of posts to it. For example, try posting two or three photos of the dish itself, along with one photo that shows how it is prepared and another showing which wine it pairs well with. Being intentional about your images will help you achieve your business goals and find what works for your fan base and what doesn’t.
Once you know what you want your photo to include, the next hurdle is photo technique. The great thing about Instagram is that you don’t have to be a photography specialist to take a good photo. All you need is a few tips and some practice.
No one likes a fuzzy or out-of-focus photo. Make sure you focus the photo on the food; in particular, the most enticing part (like the inner filling of a layer cake). If you are creating an image with text, make sure it is high resolution. Stick to one or two dominant colors in a non-photo image to get up to 17 percent more likes. That report also found that lighter images with background space and texture also attract more likes.
Think like a food stylist
Don’t be afraid to take a spoonful out of the cobbler to show the filling. You don’t have to take the photo the minute the food comes out of the window. Spend some time staging the shot. Try placing a utensil on the plate or placing a napkin next to the plate for a different texture to the photo. Move the plate around to get a better angle on the dish.
Use natural light if at all possible. Take your dish to the nearest window and watch how the light brings out colors and shows texture. In a pinch, use the light from a couple of other phones in a dim setting.
Take many pictures
Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to Instagram photos. Plan on taking multiple pictures from different angles for each dish. Try different lighting and staging to see what looks best. If that seems tedious, remember: You are learning how to take better pictures and will be able to get the best picture in fewer shots the more you practice.
Hashtags are the way to get your photos seen by more than just the people that follow you. A good rule of thumb is to use at least 11 hashtags with every image to get the most interactions. There are some general hashtags that have been shown to get the most views, but you should do your own research and use hashtags that are specific to your image. You will do better with hashtags directly related to your image and the topics you are interested in, like #farmtotable #cravings #wingsandthings rather than generic ones like #instagood. You can use the Instagram search to check out popular hashtags.
A good image captures attention and a good caption adds value to the image. Your caption should give context for your image and have a call to action while fitting inside your personal style and voice. For example, take a photo of just your chef’s hands preparing a dish and in the caption talk about your chef’s history (“These hands have prepared over 1,000 dinners at our restaurant.”) Give depth to the image by creating context in the caption to make a bigger impression on the viewer.
You can also start conversations in the caption by asking followers to respond to a question in the comments section. Or, ask them to comment with their favorite menu item and even offer a reward for participation. Also, don’t forget to add in emojis since they have been shown to get 47.7 percent more interactions than posts without emojis.
As technology advances and photo editing tools and filters become even more common, more people (and restaurants) than ever are harnessing the power of Instagram. The basics of photography, though, stay the same: Focus on a purposeful, high-quality photo, with good composition, and your Instagram followers will respond with shares, likes and increased engagement. Want to learn how to make that translate to increased online orders? Contact us today.