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Food Photography Tips For B&B Owners

breakfast how to market a bed and breakfast running a bed and breakfast Mar 08, 2021

We have a regular Zoom call in the B&B marketing membership when  the community members can  ask any questions they have about marketing their B&B. A couple of weeks ago someone asked for tips on how to take better photographs of their food.

I'm absolutely not an expert in photography! But the group had some great tips to share, so I decided to pull them together, along with other tips I’ve picked up over the years, and share them with you on this week's blog post.

I've also created a free Food Photography Tips for B&B Owners PDF, which you can download here

If you're interested in learning more about the B&B Academy Marketing Membership click the image below 👇🏼

Food Photography Tips for B&B owners

Don’t let your guest’s breakfast go cold

If you’re photographing a dish you serve a lot to your guests, it’s best to do a separate photoshoot, rather than hoping for that perfect shot in the few seconds before you need to take it into the dining room. 

Cook double at breakfast and serve a plate for a photoshoot later on. If you hate waste you could always stick it in the microwave and have it for lunch, or give the dog a special dinner!

Get inspiration from other food photographers 

If you’re stuck on how to photograph a dish, do a search for it on Pinterest or Instagram. You’ll find thousands of ideas. Save your favourite to a secret board on Pinterest or press the the save flag ( bottom right directly below the photo in Instagram )

For each of the photos you really like, make a note of what you like about it. What backdrops, props, lighting, angle of shot etc are they using.

Choose a nice backdrop

When you’re taking a photograph of some food, consider what’s behind it. If you’ve got a country kitchen with an AGA that’s great or do you have a brick or wooden wall in another room that you could use. 

You can buy photography backdrops - do a Google search or take a look at Etsy. Or, if you’re handy, make your own out of some wooden boards and distress it with paint.

Also think about what the food is sitting on. If you’ve got an old distressed wooden table or marble or granite work surfaces , they’d be ideal. You could also use crumpled paper, newspaper, hessian sacks, a tablecloth

Get the lighting right

Getting the right lighting in food photography is one of the most important things you can do. Using natural light is always preferable if you can. Overhead kitchen lights can make the photo a bit orangey / yellow.

Morning light is usually the best light for food photography.

Go round your house to different windows and take photographs of some food, so you can see how the photos look in different light.

If you have very bright light coming through a window, you can try hanging a white sheet over it to diffuse the light. Also consider using a piece of folded white card to reflect the light onto the other side of the food.

Depth of field

“Depth of field” is a photography term used to describe the technique to control the focus of the camera. Typically it’s used so the subject is in focus and the background is blurred ( or vice versa )

The blur is achieved by changing the aperture of the camera lens. If you’re using a camera on your phone, this usually has a fixed aperture. You can achieve some blur of the background by getting up quite close to the subject. On an iPhone with portrait mode this can produce a depth of field effect.

This is an old photo of mine, and I'd take it differently now! But I got the depth of field effect using portrait mode on my iPhone.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the first principles taught to new photographers. Imagine your image is split by a grid of equally spaced lines; 2 vertical and 2 horizontal. So your image is now split into 9 parts.

The theory behind the rule is that if you place elements of your photo in the intersections of the lines, that your photo is more balanced.

Symmetry

Another technique is to take your photographs so they are symmetrical. Humans are naturally drawn to symmetrical compositions and find them aesthetically pleasing.

Imagine you’ve drawn a vertical or horizontal line on your photograph and each side mirror the other.

Here's one of a fennel and potato gratin I took with my phone, trying for the symmetrical look!

 

Props

Consider using props in your photographs. For food photographs, you could use cutlery, kitchen utensils, napkins, ingredients of your dish, small bowls of ingredients, chopping boards etc.

Don’t be afraid to use negative space. That’s the space around the food with nothing added it to it. So it might be the table or the wall. It draws the viewer’s attention to the food and ensures it’s not too fussy.

This stock photo shows good use of props - the jug, napkin, fork and escaped blueberries, as well as negative space.

Composition of the dish

Think about how the food is laid out on the plate or in the bowl. How do the props look around it?  Does it look visually appealing? 

More threes

Make sure your photos aren’t too cluttered with props. Start with three and see how that looks.

A simple technique used by the professionals  in plating up of food is to use odd numbers. It creates a more visually appealing overall design.

For example use 3 halves of a tomato, 5 small mushrooms on a full english

Take lots of photographs

You may have to take many photographs to find that perfect shot.  

Taking lots of  photos will increase your chances of finding the perfect photo. It also gives you different images to use in a blog post or social media.

Consider the angle of the photo

When you’re thinking of the best angle to use for a photo, consider the food itself. 

For example, tall food like a stack of pancakes tends to look better when photographed using a straight on angle. Whilst a fairly flat full english may look better if photographed from overhead.

It might be easier to get an overhead shot if you put the food on the floor or stand on a chair ( be careful! )

Portrait versus horizontal

When you’re taking photographs for websites, it's likely that your web designer will be asking you for horizontal photographs. 

But if you’re posting your photographs on Instagram or Pinterest  it’s better to have them taken in portrait ( vertical as opposed to iPhones Portrait setting ).

If you’re doing a photo shoot it’s a good idea to take both portrait and vertical.

Editing

There are many editing apps available, such as lightroom, snapseed, VSCO which you can use on your phone. The basic versions of these apps are free to use.

All of the editing options can be overwhelming to a beginner. Look for presets you can use to get you started. You can get free presets to use in lightroom. Try looking on google or pinterest.

To quote the journeyera website

"A Lightroom preset is a configuration of settings, designed to achieve a certain look or style of your photo. You install the presets into your lightroom and then when you click on a particular preset while in the develop module, the pre-determined (pre-set) settings will apply to that photo.”

You can download free food presets to use in Lightroom here

I used a preset in the free Lightroom app to alter how this bread looks

Choose your style

Consider whether you want to adopt a particular style in terms of the editing, props, composition and angle you use.

You might want to use this style all of the time or vary it up a bit

Progress not perfection

As the members of my B&B Marketing Membership are always hearing me say, progress is better than perfection!

It’s much better to start taking photos and posting them, even if they’re not perfect, than doing nothing at all. The more photos you take, the more practise you’re getting and the better you’ll get!

I hope you’ve found this blog useful. Please tag me ( @bedandbreakfastacademy )  in your photos on Instagram. I’d love to see what you do!

If you'd like to learn more about the B&B Marketing Membership Click the image below!👇🏼















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