Food photos on the go in a restaurant

Food photos on the go in a restaurant

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Be it pasta garnished with fresh herbs in your favourite restaurant or the artistic milk foam on your cappuccino in your favourite café – such great and delicious creations are something you would like to hold on to for eternity and share with everyone on Instagram and the like. But a good camera is not always at hand and the light at your favourite Italian restaurant around the corner is often only suitable to a limited extent for a great food photo.

We’ll tell you below how you still manage to take great food photos in a restaurant while you’re out and about, and what tricks and apps you can use to get the best out of your pictures.

Five tips for great food photos on the go

It doesn’t always have to be an expensive SLR camera or elaborate studio lighting to take great food photos. With a few tips and tricks, you can take creative and appealing pictures while you’re out and about in a café or restaurant with your smartphone or a simple digital camera.

The right lighting for food photos

Be it in a restaurant or photo studio, a shot is only as good as the right lighting. Of course, the lighting in a restaurant is not always optimal and uniform. During the day, therefore, try to find a place as close to the window as possible. If there is no daylight in the café or restaurant, you can also choose candlelight to illuminate your subject. Depending on the atmosphere, the candlelight creates a very special atmosphere for your food photo. If this is not enough, take a second smartphone with you. Activate the flashlight function there. When illuminating the motif, make sure that the light does not fall directly but indirectly on the food. You can do this, for example, by holding a napkin in front of the lamp or directing the light beam towards the ceiling.

Tip: Do not activate the flash for food photos. The built-in flash in your smartphone or digital camera will falsify the colours of your food and cause annoying shadows and overexposed areas.

Der Goldene Schnitt für ein harmonisches Food-Foto im Restaurant

Food photos: The right image composition

For an appealing picture detail you should activate the grid view on your smartphone or digital camera. The grid lines will help you to find the right image proportion. Position the most important elements on the intersections of the lines (golden ratio) for a balanced image flow. If, for example, you have a plate with side dishes and one with the main course, you can place the main course on an intersection point and the side dish, cut at the edge of the image, on another intersection point. This makes the image look harmonious. However, dishes that are placed in the middle of the image appear boring.

Decorative elements for exciting food photos

A good food photo thrives from the matching props and details. That is why you shouldn’t just put the plate of food in the right light. Also arrange a few decorative elements around the plate. This will make the picture more exciting and interesting later on. For example, use a beautiful fabric napkin to add a little more dimension to the background. Flowers as well as the salt and pepper shakers create a nice atmosphere as well and are a great addition to your food photo. Beautiful glasses, cutlery or sunglasses are also suitable as decoration.

Dekoelemente im Restaurant für spannende Food-Fotos

Find the right setting for food photos

In addition to lighting, image composition and the appropriate decorative elements, you should also select the correct setting on your camera. Many smartphones, for example, have a special “food mode” that makes the colours of the food shine and provides depth of field. Macro mode on digital cameras also provides a similar effect. Avoid automatic mode. This makes the food photos look one-dimensional and less vivid later on.

If you want to play with the image effect, you can also take pictures in manual mode. Pay attention to a small f-number and adjust the ISO value as well as the exposure time to the ambient light. If it is quite dark, you can shoot sufficiently bright shots with a longer exposure time and a higher ISO value. If the exposure time is quite long, it is also advisable to use a small tripod, otherwise the shot will be blurred.

Did you know? Observe legal aspects

If you would like to publish a food photo of your dishes on the Internet, you should observe the house rules of the host. The host can decide whether or not you are allowed to take a photo there. Therefore, when you enter the restaurant, check whether you see a sign. Often such a notice is also on the menu. If you are unsure, we recommend that you simply ask. After all, a nice food photo on the Internet is also a great advertisement for the restaurant or café.


If you take a few things into account, you can also take nice pictures of your food in the restaurant or café on the way. The most important thing is the right lighting. To make the picture look exciting and interesting later on, you should pay attention to a beautiful picture composition and matching decorative elements. With the macro mode of your digital camera or the “food mode” of smartphones, you can create lively and beautiful pictures. Try it out!