A Guide to Food Photography for Your Kiosks


It's difficult to get mouths watering with just a description of your dishes. Given the option, most (hungry) guests would likely prefer to see what they are ordering versus spending the time reading through each ingredient.   

Good food photography does more than satisfy ordering preferences: it actually drives speed of ordering. Your brain can process images 60,000 times faster than it does text. It follows: if you want to optimize ordering speed and efficiency at your self-order kiosks, food photography is mission critical. 

Over the last 13 years, we've taken note of designs that work and those that don't. We’ve put together a photography guide with 4 important strategies to help you benefit from these years of experience. With these principles in mind, you can capture the perfect images for your restaurant so that guests can eat with their eyes... 


principle 1: Presentation 

Prepare and plate all food items as if they are being judged based on presentation (because they are). Give the subject of your shot plenty of extra space on all sides in your viewfinder. Digital cameras take large enough images so that a graphic artist can use edit, zoom in and crop without losing any resolution. 

LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING!  Back light is key to texture and making it appetizing. Use a backdrop of a single flat color, preferably white, and make sure the subject is well lit. 

Keep these three tips in mind when photographing: 

  1. Lighting → Eliminate most harsh shadows by positioning one main light to the right of the camera and a second, softer “fill light” on the left.

  2. Angle → Most products should be photographed at a slight downward angle of 30-45 degrees.

  3. Tools → Use a tripod to eliminate blurry photos. Use a camera timer or remote so that there is no shaking when you snap the picture.


principle 2: Consistency 

You want all your items in one category to be photographed in a similar manner so that it's easier for a user to "read" the images quickly.

Consistency is important, particularly when working on a specific group of items - dressings, for example. If all but one dressing is photographed from a bird's eye view, the guest's eye is going to get caught. Their eyes will hover for an extra couple of seconds, investigating the visual differences.

When you're going for speed and ease of use, you don't want to create any unnecessary distractions. Generally speaking, you'll want to keep all the items on one screen a similar size, as well. 



principle 3: Simplicity 

Stylized food photography is fun and great for specific ads, but when it comes to your kiosk menu, keeping things simple is the best policy. Remember that you don’t need to show the product exactly as it is served to the customer. Feel free to remove packaged items from the packing materials. You can also plate the subject differently than how it is typically served. White-ware is suggested because it can easily be removed from the photo if the kiosk design calls for it.



principle 4: Quality

It's usually best to hire a professional. Insist on high resolution (or raw) photos from your photographer, and ask them to leave some breathing room around the plate so that it doesn’t fill the entire frame. High quality photos composed this way can be edited to fit a variety of design situations. When you invest in a food photo shoot, you'll want to be able to use the photography in a number of ways. It's best to set up the shoot so that the resulting photos are as flexible as possible.



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