This is one of the questions I get asked the most: how do you take such nice photos in a dimly lit restaurant? Lighting is so important for photos and most restaurant evening lighting won’t be optimal even when you have a “real” camera. I hardly ever bring a camera to restaurants anymore so I almost always take photos with my iPhone, although my travel photos are always taken with a camera. I’m giving away the secret tips I’ve gathered since I started taking photos for the blog and for Instagram.
Use another iPhone to light up the dish
Just use a white-lit screen, don’t use the flashlight or the flash. Flash photography is horrible for food and makes dishes look flat. It also bothers other diners so never use flash please. On the other hand, a lit screen will lend a bit of light to the dish and will sometimes offset the yellow hue found in most restaurants. Be aware that sometimes the photos come out with a blueish tint.
Use the Snapseed app for post production
Snapseed is one of my favourite apps and one I use on almost all my photos. Learn how to use it and it will be your best tool. Add a little bit of sharpness, diminish the warmth if the photo is too yellow, add some contrast, take away some shadows and add some brightness if it’s too dark. Play around but be careful not to go overboard or the end result will look flat.
Don’t overdo Instagram filters
Instagram filters are sometimes great and will enhance a photo but I mostly just post photos with no filters. Whatever you do, don’t over filter your shots or they will look fake.
Shadows are hard to avoid in restaurants. If you can’t get rid of them, try changing angles or moving your camera higher up for overhead shots. It will sometimes move the shadow far enough from your plate and you can always zoom in on the dish and crop the photo later.
I am always very respectful when I’m taking photos in a restaurant. I will ask if I can take pictures, especially in a high end restaurant and as mentioned above, will never use flash. I am also always quick and discreet. You don’t want your food getting cold while you’re taking the perfect shot.
Abstain if you must
I personally don’t post photos if they don’t do justice to the chef, the restaurant or the dish I’m eating. Chefs work hard at creating each and every dish and if my photo doesn’t do it justice, I would rather abstain.
Have you picked up any food photography tips you’d like to share in a comment? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions.