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How to take pictures of crowd, parties and food

Managing social media in the restaurant industry is certainly a unique experience, as social media managers and business owners alike will strategize and execute a plan that caters to customers, revenue opportunity and potential walk-in visitors. One of the most important ways you can share your message in a visual form is through Instagram, as it offers a wide variety of opportunity to attract new visitors.

Taking such photos can be a challenge, especially in the restaurant setting as it can be dark and does not typically offer the most impressive amount of lighting to get the perfect shot.

With this in mind, and through many, many tests, we’ve found the greatest ways to take photos of crowds, parties and food while in a restaurant.

Here are our 5 tips to get the perfect photo

1. Seek natural lighting

Many of us have iPhones, or similar smartphone devices. The global smartphone shipments forecast for smartphone devices is expected to reach 1.9 billion units by the end of this year, in comparison to 2009, which was a mere 173.5 million units. We’ve tested many different smartphones, and one thing remains consistent  - to take a great photo, you need natural lighting.

Natural lighting can come in many forms, though the best is natural daylight versus artificial lighting. If you light your food or your crowd with artificial lighting, you will miss the beautiful colors of the food, the array of hair color and skin tone of your guests. You don’t want a washed-out face, or your beautiful white plates to turn orange, do you?

2. You can control the shadows

Shadows are important in photography, regardless of your subject. They can really make or break an image.

Shadows can enhance photos, especially in crowds. Referring back to the natural lighting, when you get outside with your guests, be in on a restaurant patio or just prior to heading into your reservation, be aware of the sun’s directional lighting. Strong lighting will result in hard, dark and stark shadows, whereas an overcast day can deliver softer shadows for your photo subjects.

Our recommendation is to accumulate photos for Instagram on an overcast day, as it will allow for more play with your subjects and, most often, result in better photos.

3. Aim for a neutral background

Having a neutral background for your images will allow you so much more depth, play and fun with your food, crowd and overall party. When photographing food particularly, dark food generally looks good on a darker background (think - blueberry pancakes or a beautiful, seared steak), whereas lighter food looks great on a light background (salmon, cod, and risotto are three great food examples that excel on a lighter background).

When it comes to people, a neutral background like browns and greys are excellent for parties, as it will ensure that no one’s outfit is lost in the mix, especially beautiful Summer florals and whites. Neutral backgrounds also allow you to play with Instagram filters much easier than a lighter background will.

4. But don’t forget your pops of color

Color is everything, especially on Instagram. Data shows that blue Instagram posts get more likes than those that are predominantly red, so perhaps take that into consideration (are you still thinking about the blueberry pancakes we mentioned above?)

Pops of contrast are also highlight recommended, as it can help to stimulate the viewer’s emotions. Using pops of the aforementioned blue and red can be a great test (perhaps blueberry pancakes with pops of strawberry, topped with whipped cream), and exciting images can also illicit the same emotions (smiling faces, happy guests, etc.)

We love playing with contrasts when it comes to color combinations and using the background of food and crowds to our advantage.

5. It’s all about angles

This goes for virtually each and every photo you take, whether it be crowds, food, a selfie or more - it’s all about angles.

Angles make or break your image. You could have the best natural lighting, a neutral background and pops of color - though if your angle is wrong, your selected photo is rendered useless.

When it comes to food, shooting from above allows you to include all of the details in your shot, from the food and the background to the dishes and the cutlery. Whereas when shooting a crowd or a party, having a slightly angled approach works best - by this, we mean that your phone should be tilted down and just above your subject.

Taking photos of crowds, parties and food is no easy task - in fact, it can be challenging, and we know it! These are often subjects that you cannot control, that is, you are unable to manage natural lighting and the weather of the day, your background might not be a neutral one depending on your location, and those aforementioned blueberry pancakes might change in overall consistency from week to week. Whatever the case might be, it’s important to track metrics and engagement of your audience so you can optimize your content. After all, the success will be in your numbers!