7 Important Questions To Ask Yourself and Your Client Before Your First Restaurant Photoshoot – Food Photography Tips

24/05/2021

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6 Important Questions I always ask the client before a photo shoot at a restaurant or café.

When photographing a restaurant or a café, one of the key steps for making it work is to discuss the job in-depth with your client. Here are some questions that I always ask my clients when I receive a request.

1. What has the client contacted you for?

What has your client got in mind? How many photos do they need? What do they intend to use the images for? Do they need images to use on Social Media? On a website? For marketing? For display on the restaurant menus? All of the above?

If the photos are for use in social media, add some interest by including some people in the background.

  • If the photos are for social media, you will need to show the life in the café or the restaurant. You can add interest by showing some people in the background or a set of hands holding a bowl of delicious soup. Photos intended for social media tend to be more relaxed and realistic. Bear in mind that you might need to bring a friend or ask a staff member to help out in this case.
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum
  • On the other side, the images shot for a restaurant menu need to focus on the dishes with few props or distractions; the food definitely needs to be the star.
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum

Taking all this into account will affect the preparation time, the time on the client site and, as a result, the final quote. In my experience, shooting for a magazine, a website, or advertising requires more care and attention to detail than photographing for social media where things seem to be moving faster and where the attention span is a lot shorter.

2. What style of photography does the client like?

Does the client have a clear idea of the photographic style he or she likes for his or her business?

  • Sometimes, it might be tricky for them to explain what they want verbally. If this is the case, can the client provide some references or ideas? Pinterest or Instagram are two great tools for inspiration; you can follow my Restaurant Photography board on Pinterest if you are looking for a place to start. They might even find references in your portfolio. After all, that´s probably one of the main reasons why they have chosen you to work with, in the first place.
  • Asking the client what they don´t like is also a good option. Their style is sometimes quite clear from the restaurant´s own interior decor, but it is worth asking the question. Some clients don´t like strong shadows or moody pictures and prefer crisp, airy, clean, luminous images. I personally like sharing the story of what goes on in the café in natural light. I am not a big fan of the traditional approach to food photography using almost exclusively macro photography and artificial light. But the client might have another idea in mind. Now is the time to ask.

3. Who is the target audience?

  • Who is their ideal customer? How would they describe him or her? How old is their ideal customer? What is his or her income level?
  • What makes their restaurant special for that target audience? Is it the food? The decor? The location?

4. What are they trying to communicate?

Maybe they are proud to serve the best coffee in town, or they want to advertise for their new Take Away menu… Are they promoting their Friday specials? Or they want to bring people into their garden bar for Cocktails at sunset. In my experience, a good set of photos is the best way to advertise a new service or for communicating its existence.

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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum

5. What emotions does the client want the target audience to feel when looking at the images?

Is the café in a busy business district with a constant flow of office workers coming in and out during working hours? Or, on the contrary, do they want their audience to feel like they could relax while reading a book and drinking a cup of matcha latte?

6. What does the restaurant or café look like?

Once the quote has been accepted, if possible, try having a brief meeting at the restaurant. This is super important for me and generally makes the photoshoot so much easier.

  • Be aware of the existing backdrops, surfaces and textures. Are the walls special in any way? Is there any existing decor that you might want to include? When photographing life in a restaurant, we want to show what makes the place special and different from any other place.

Pay attention to the existing backdrops.

Do the walls have a special texture? Is there any part of the decor that might be interesting to highlight?
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum

7. What is the available light?

  • Once there, pay attention to the existing light, especially if shooting in natural light. What time does direct light hit the window where you intend to set up the scene? It might be a good idea to set the time for the shoot when the light is soft. If this is not possible, remember to bring a screen that will help soften the light. Something like this will do the trick.
  • Also, now is probably a good time to arrange for the best day for the photoshoot. Will the photoshoot happen on a day when the restaurant is closed? If that is not possible, what time or day of the week is the quietest for both the kitchen and the café itself.
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Lurra Café – CHILLIDA LEKU Museum

And finally, enjoy the process!

As a food photographer, taking photos in restaurants is one of my favourite parts of the job. So, be thorough with your prep work so that you can relax and enjoy the process.

All the photos in this post were taken at Lurra Café in the beautiful Chillida Leku Museum situated in The Basque country.

Get in Touch

Check out some of my Restaurant and Café photography projects here. I have a variety of packages available depending on the project requirements. Feel free to drop me an email at info@maitepaternain.com or call me on +64 (0) 277883321. I will be happy to discuss your particular situation.

Maite Paternain

Is a Basque Food Photographer and Stylist based in New Zealand. She has worked with some of the major food related companies in Spain like ELLE Gourmet Magazine or The Spanish Tourist Board (Turespaña). In 2017, she was elected runner up in the DELICIOUS Magazine UK food photographers competition.

info@maitepaternain.com

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