How to Plan for Your First Food Photoshoot

LA food photography

This is for those that are planning to have their first food photoshoot done and don’t really know how to plan for it or what to expect.

A professional photoshoot has three phases: Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production.  Most people are only aware of the production phase, and even there only of the portion of that when the button is pushed.  That is photography in the eyes of most.  It works fine for a selfie in front of a public artwork, but not much else.

Pre-production is the planning phase.  This involves steps by both the client and the photographer.  For the client, here are some of the things you want to consider:

  1. Which menu items or foods do you want photographed.  Make a list.
  2. Where do you want to use them?  Will they be placed beside items on your menu?  Used as large header images on your website?  For window displays in your restaurant to entice passers by to come in?  In social media posts and ads?  Or in major advertising campaigns where there will be a combination of uses.  Knowing this is a key step to deciding on composition.
  3. What style or composition do you favor?  While the composition, propping and styling of the food are largely the photographer’s job, we need to know what you like visually.  We also want to ensure that our work compliments and enhances your brand.  This is a step where we work with you closely prior to the shoot and during it.  Having some photos you’ve saved from the web that serve as an example of what you want us to create in terms of style helps tremendously.  Note that we may want different compositions in the shoot.  This depends on where the photos are being used.  On the menu, we may want to show the full plate without distracting backgrounds.  For large photos on website pages we may want to show the food in the foreground with portions of the restaurant clearly seen in the background.  There are also times when we want to shoot closeup detail of a food item to show it’s texture and appetite appeal more.
  4. What aspect ratio will be needed?  This is the width/height ratio.  If this is going to need to be different than what the camera outputs (such as a perfectly square crop), we need to do this so we can compose the photos to allow room for the cropping that will occur in post-production.
  5. Where will the shoot take place?  In your restaurant, or will a commercial kitchen/studio be needed?
  6. Will additional props be needed, or do you have everything necessary in the restaurant?
  7. What is your budget for the shoot?

Production is the phase when the actual shooting takes place. This includes setting up the lighting, preparing the foods, styling the set and food both, taking the actual photos and making needed adjustments to the set and reshooting as needed.  During this step it is good for you to be on location to view the photos and ensure they are coming out the way you have in mind.  Again it is important to have your use in mind so you can look for things such are we adding enough space in the photo for your text, if any.

Post-Production is the step that most people are unaware of.  It’s the digital age equivalent to developing the film.  It can’t be skipped.  In this step we make any needed color and contrast corrections.  We may crop to make the photos fit certain aspect ratios that are different from the camera.  There are cases where the plate of food needs to be completely separated from the background it was taken on and another background put in place.  This is commonly seen on food packaging photography.

We will work with you on all of this so don’t worry about it too much.  However, having this in mind as you plan what photos you need and what you need them to accomplish should help.  Contact us at if you have questions.

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