Is there a difference between pro food photography and mobile phone food photography

December 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Loads of people nowadays like to take photos of an amazing meal they are enjoying or a restaurant they have experienced and share it on social media, including myself. However, if you are a professional chef, restaurant or producer then is this type of image good enough to represent you as an individual or business? Your food is your brand, your website is your shop window and the food photography you choose to show provides a customer with their first impression. And as we all know, you only get one chance to make that first impression so its essential to make it a good one. 

Now don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly possible to take usable images on a smart phone, which is fine, if its your customer taking images to share with friends on their social media….in fact, this is great for your business. However, when you visit the website of a top restaurant or food brands they are not using these types of images on their home pages or anywhere other than on Facebook or Twitter feeds. They understand that customers ‘eat with their eyes’ and that with the advent of the internet, its only too easy for them to find your competition in a few clicks and decide their delicious, colourful, vibrant looking food is more appealing  and eat there instead

What to look for

Accuracy

Your food is your brand and you spend hours creating, improving and perfecting the look, smell and taste of a dish. Therefore, this needs to be communicated visually to your customer and risking this to shaky amateur mobile phone photography can indicate a lack of care in your product. 

Colour 

Colour is probably one of the most important factors in food photography and is one of the easiest to get wrong. Most restaurant have tungsten or florescent lighting installed which is great for the interior but can murder the food photography if its not corrected for or avoided completely. Getting the colour wrong turns off customers very quickly as they immediately know something is wrong with the dish

Distortion

This is one of the harder aspects to notice in food photography but still important. Smart phones have a very wide lens so its camera needs to get much closer to the food and this will cause distortion of the photograph. Distortion is generally referred to an optical aberration that deforms and bends physically straight lines and makes them appear curvy in images. Again, this can make your food look unappealing as the brain is aware something is wrong, even if the viewer cannot quite put their finger on why?

Detail

Its very easy to lose detail with a camera phone as the level of precision need in the lens to capture fine macro detail is not what they are designed for. This is where a specific lens come into play (I promise not to get techy here) that are designed to bring out all of the hidden beauty of the food in question. In the Cod photographs, I deliberately chose a piece of white fish to highlight this issue, as its very hard to a mobile phone camera to cope with the whites/ greys in the flesh and in the parsnip puree which means it ‘blows out’ the image. All detail is lost and you are just left with white whereas the image on the left you see subtle details and colour changes in both the fish and puree.

If you'd be interested in a discussion about how dedicated food photography can help your restaurant, chef, products then please don't hesitate to get in touch here

BTW, just in case you are wondering the Pro photography kit used was Nikon D800 + 105mm macro lens and the mobile was the Nexus 6P


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