The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Photos on Tripadvisor
Great photos are the key to standing out in today’s crowded restaurant market. Here’s our ultimate guide to showing off your restaurant and your cuisine with photography — no professional needed.
Why Restaurant Photos Matter on Tripadvisor
On Tripadvisor, restaurants with more than ten photos often have significantly greater engagement — almost double, in fact — from hungry browsing diners. And restaurants with at least one Management Photo see 44% more engagement than those without. Adding photos to your listing is one of the easiest ways you can encourage more people to come to your restaurant.
Where Diners See Your Photos
Your photos will appear in the photo carousel at the top of your listing, and your Primary Photo will appear next to your listing in search results. Tripadvisor Premium subscribers can also create a dynamic visual slideshow and create a set of up to ten Featured Photos— learn more about Premium here.
How to Take Better Photos of Your Restaurant (Without an Expensive Camera)
Taking great photos of food and your restaurant doesn’t require a professional or even a nice camera. Most smartphones today will do nicely with the right lighting and composition.
Choose What to Feature
Before you pick up your camera, think about what you want to feature about your restaurant. You’ll want a variety of shots of the seating, the decor, your storefront, and your food. Is there anything unique about the space, like an open kitchen or a stage for live music? What about your awesome staff or outdoor seating? Those are great aspects of your place to feature.
Think about what you want to feature to determine when you’ll take your photos. Ideally, you’ll want shots of your restaurant when it’s full and bustling — but if there’s no time during a service, don’t sweat it. The most important part of restaurant photography is showing your restaurant at its best, and if your busy dinner service offers dim lighting, this might mean a less compelling photo anyway.
Catch Your Restaurant’s Good Side
If your restaurant typically has mood lighting or harsh overhead lights, take pictures during the day of your cuisine using natural light from one of your windows or invest in a small photography light. Avoid flash, heavy shadows, or direct sunlight as it can wash out your subject or cast shadows in the photo. You’ll have to play with different times of day based on how the light looks in your restaurant — and with curtains if you have them to diffuse the light.
When taking photos of your restaurant’s interior, don’t try to get a picture of everything all at once. Pick individual elements and make sure there’s plenty of empty space around your subject. Your goal should be to give potential diners an overall vibe rather than a prescriptive tour of the place.
Compose the Perfect Shot of Your Cuisine
For your cuisine, let your mise-en-place shine. Double check that dishes are clean and the surrounding setting appealing before starting to take pictures. And don’t forget to take the majority of your photos in landscape mode — longer than it is tall — to optimize for sites like Tripadvisor.
For the classic overhead shot of plated cuisine, you’ll want to get up on a chair and take the photo with a single plate in the center or multiple plates arranged deliberately. Think about shapes and color more than the individual items of the dish. Add table settings or silverware where appropriate, and go for contrast between the colors of the dish, the plate, and the table. Keep the background neutral if you can so the dish really pops, and experiment with adding hands or arms into the photo — though for that, you’ll likely need another person to help.
Another popular type of food photography is the “food in the air” shot for more on-the-go items. This works best with two people, one to hold the food item and one to take the picture. Find a neutral background or wall of your restaurant (or a brick wall nearby) to showcase food that is easily held — think smoothies, fun cocktails, coffee, ice cream, or other to-go items like sandwiches or waffles.
When it comes to composition, think about what makes someone’s mouth water. Try shooting subjects from the side, especially items with layers. Cut a savory menu item like a burger in half to show off the ingredients or ask a staff member to pull apart a gooey grilled cheese. If you have a layered cake or other sweet dessert, do the same to show off the layers or the melty chocolate confection you’ve created.
Another option for composition is to shoot your subject diagonally. You could arrange a tray of cupcakes or a colorful salad to show both the side and the top of the menu item. Mix up portrait and landscape orientations to see how that changes the shot.
Whatever you’re shooting, make sure there’s a little bit of empty space between the subject and the frame so that the focus is on the food itself. Keeping it simple will yield the best results. And most of all, have fun with it! You’re showing off your hard work and what makes your restaurant special — don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of photography.
There’s plenty more shots you can try:
- The outside street view shot
- A view from someone seated at your bar, if you have one
- Behind-the-scenes shots in your kitchen of your staff plating and cooking
Advanced: Use Technology to Up-Level Your Photos
While you don’t need a fancy camera or the services of a professional, a few smaller gadgets and apps on your phone can help you take great photos year-round that you can use on your social media profiles, on listing sites like Tripadvisor, or in your email marketing.
- Setting up a tripod to steady photos and to film videos — if nothing else, this is worth the investment, especially if your restaurant is on the darker side
- Adding a lens attachment to widen your field of view
- Purchasing an external photography light to take shots when light is dim
- Using the self-timer to minimize shaking
- Holding your finger down on the photo button to take a burst during action shots of your staff to get the right shot
- Engaging portrait mode for cuisine shots to make it look even more professional
- Downloading an editing app like Lightroom or VSCO to adjust your photos after you shoot — pre-downloaded presets make editing easy
Be sure to include the original image from your camera or phone to maintain the best possible quality. Depending on what kind of camera or phone you have, you may need to invest in a card reader, USB cord, or a file sharing app like Dropbox or Google Photos so that you can easily transfer your images from your device to your computer to upload them.
Don’t Forget Captions to Add Context
Whether you’re uploading these photos to social media or on Tripadvisor, include photo descriptions that provide context about the photo. Keep it short and sweet — a brief description of the dish or the decor elements will do nicely. Stick with your brand and how you’re already talking about your menu and restaurant across the web.
How to Upload Photos to Your Tripadvisor Listing
To add photos to your Tripadvisor listing:
- Log into the Management Center. If you haven’t already, claim your listing.
- Choose “Photos” under the “Manage Listing” dropdown at the top of the page.
- All of your current photos will appear here. Click the blue button on the top right to add additional photos from your computer. You can upload up to 50 photos at a time.
- View your Primary Photo by choosing “Primary Photo” from the left hand menu. Tripadvisor automatically chooses a Primary Photo for you, but you can select your own by clicking the “Manual: Select your own Primary Photo” button and choosing one of the photos below. You’ll want to select a landscape photo that’s at least 1200 pixels wide by 628 pixels tall. When you’re happy with your selection, click the orange “Submit” button. Your photos should appear on Tripadvisor within the next 24 hours.
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Last Updated: 26 January 2019