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Taking Pictures for Your Menu
Taking Pictures for Your Menu
Chyrlie Brown avatar
Written by Chyrlie Brown
Updated over a week ago

How to photograph food for your menu

It is important to have great pictures of the dishes you are offering on your menu as it is your first opportunity to grab your customers attention. Your menu pictures will set your customers expectations as well, so make sure that your pictures actually look like the food you will send your customers.

Our menu photo team will be editing your dish picture after you upload it, cutting out your dish of food and placing it onto one of our backgrounds.

The most important guidelines to follow when taking your menu pictures so our menu team doesn't have to ask you to take a new photo:

  1. Place your food on a plate, or in a bowl and take your picture from directly above the dish, looking down at it from above.

  2. Capture the entire plate or bowl in the picture, without cutting off any edges or having anything hanging off the edge of the dish.

  3. Make sure your food has good lighting. Natural sunlight works the best to highlight the colors of your food so it looks natural and delicious. Take your picture next to an open window, or even bring your dish outside to a shaded area for the best lighting.

If you'd like more detailed advice on how to take the best menu pictures, keep reading below. We also provide best practices for taking pictures of dishes that may not look the best when photographing from directly above.

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How to prepare for taking menu photos and step-by-step details

What you will need to prepare for taking menu photos

  1. A plain, light-colored, circular dish

  2. A camera or phone camera (if using a phone camera, please use the newest phone with the highest-quality camera you have access to)

  3. A location with bright natural light

  4. A plain, dark-colored surface for your photo background (you can use a piece of fabric)

How to arrange your food for your menu photos

  • Use a plain, light-colored, circular dish. We strongly recommend using a dish with no decorations to let your food take center stage. Please do not use clear or transparent dishes.

  • Include all components of your menu item in the same dish.

  • Use the same portion of food that you are offering on your menu.

  • Place the food neatly in the center of the dish.

  • Clean the sides of the dish with a wet paper towel to remove any food splatters or spots.

  • Decorate your food with garnishes to show off your ingredients. Please only garnish with ingredients that are used in your recipe.

How to take your menu photo:

  • Take your photo from directly above the food (a birds-eye view, ensuring the camera is not tilted). The easiest way to get this top-down angle is to place your dish on the ground.

  • Capture the entire dish in your photo, ensuring that the edges of the dish are not cut off.

  • Always clean the lens of your camera to ensure your photo is clear.

  • Place your dish in a location with bright, natural daylight (for example, near a window). Do not use flash or artificial indoor lights. If you need to prepare your food at night, we recommend setting your dish aside in the fridge to photograph the next morning.

  • Avoid harsh direct sunlight, glare, and dark shadows in your photo. If you take your photo outdoors, make sure your dish is shaded from harsh direct sunlight.

  • Use a plain, dark-colored surface for your photo background. Do not add your own background decorations - these will be cut away when we add the menu backgrounds.

  • Do not edit or add filters to your photo - that's what our photo editors are here for :)

We often recommend placing your dish on the ground to take your menu photos. It will be much easier to capture the entire dish with no angles or shadows. Remember to use a location with bright natural daylight!


How to photograph foods with fillings, combination plates, baked goods and drinks

How to display foods with fillings in your dish photos

Looking at the side view of a sandwich or a cross section of an empanada is much prettier than looking at the top of a sandwich or empanada. Despite this, photos must still be taken from above the dish, looking down, so our menu team can edit your photos. Cut the sandwich in half and place one half against the other, so the inside of the sandwich is on display for your camera. Slice off pieces of your banana bread and fan them out on your plate. Get creative with how you display your food to get the best dish photo for your customers! Make sure nothing is hanging over the edge of your plate so we are able to edit the picture.

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How to display food combinations in your dish photos

Some dishes might include a side dish like rice, or rotis. Anything that is included should all still fit on your plate. Put your rice in a small bowl, place that on the plate, and place the other food around the bowl.

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How to display baked goods in your dish photos

Try to make sure your customer is getting the whole picture of all of the elements that make up your baked goods. Take a slice out of your pie or cake so the layers are visible. Turn your parfait in a jar on it's side to see each ingredient. Make sure your photograph represents the portion size you are selling.

Pumpkin Pie
Spinach Pie
Fruit Cake
Taro Cake Box

How to display beverages in your dish photos (non-alcoholic only!)

Beverages can be photographed from directly above just like your food photos, this is best you have some garnish on top of your drink. You can also take your picture at eye-level, looking straight at the glass or drink container. Please ensure the drink is filled up to the top of the glass, so that your home background cannot be seen through the glass.

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Selecting a cover photo for your menu

The cover photo, or preview image, is a large picture of one of your dishes that customers will see when they visit your menu. This image appears at the top of your menu behind your name, so it's important to make sure it represents your best dish! We have found that choosing a dish picture that matches the main type of cuisine you offer encourages more customers to order from you. For example, if you cook Punjabi food, choose a well known Punjabi dish for your cover photo. You can select your own cover photo from any "live" dishes on your menu.

How to select your menu preview image / cover photo

  1. Go to your Shef Dashboard and click on "My Profile."

  2. Click on the drop-down list under "Menu Item for Preview Image."

  3. Select the image that best represents your menu.

  4. Click "Save Shef Profile" at the bottom of the screen after choosing an image.

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