2021 professional Food photography guide (with Pricing)

How many times have we all heard that we "Eat with Our Eyes First"?

Well it's actually never been more true than right now.

For brick-and-mortar restaurants, food trucks, ghost kitchens, specialty food artisans, bakeries and coffee shops, a proper menu picture (or lack of one) could mean the difference between a hungry browsing customer choosing to dine with your business or not.

How much do professional restaurant menu pictures cost in 2021?

Ready to rise to the upper crust of your local restaurant scene with an irresistible gallery of food porn?

Here is everything you need to know about what it takes to have a professionally shot and produced food catalog in 2021:

Before you shell out your hard earned dollar on anything these days, how can you be sure of what you’re getting?

You Google it. Yelp it. Facebook and Instagram search it. No matter what it is you’re going to buy today, you can usually actually SEE what it is online. From all different kinds of angles too!

Now. If you’re a restaurant manager, a food truck owner, a specialty food producer, or a part time vendor at all the best local farmer’s markets: imagine how much more important it is to have high quality, accurate, mouth-watering pictures of your food! 

On the flip side, monitoring your user-generated food photos on Yelp and other restaurant review platforms can be a revealing and insightful way to audit and observe the consistency, quality, and taste of your product from the perspective of your customers. This is where your ability to manage and lead your team to execute precise recipes and plating either shines or indicates the need for improvement. 

Follow this link to the Food Business Guide to Success and learn how to build a better restaurant model. 

The frequency of your restaurant photo shoot sessions depends on how often your menu changes, and what specials you have planned throughout the year. 

It is possible and encouraged to repurpose your photo content with the proper strategies in place, but you will decrease your follower engagement and SEO if you reuse the same images repeatedly without discretion.

In order to keep your menu and restaurant content fresh and intriguing, we implement regular weekly, monthly, or seasonal shoots with you based off your concept’s needs and size. 

At the very minimum you should catalog one shot of:

  • Every dish
  • Every drink
  • Every specialty ingredient
  • Every manager and team member
  • The storefront / facade
  • The interior seating / rooms (empty and seated)
  • The kitchen (empty and working)
  • The logo
  • The vehicle / truck
  • The daily events

However, if you really want to make your food content SING and be heard, your food photographer will know to compile a variety of angles, themes, and image compositions for all of the above. 

A large library of food and restaurant branding photos allows you to optimize your content for social media marketing, email marketing, menus, websites, and more all year round with a little Photoshop editing knowledge and creative engineering.

Menu photo shoots are conducted at your place of business during closing hours or on a low volume day and are always scheduled in cooperation with the owner’s best interest. 

Set up can take anywhere from 30 minutes for small straightforward shoots to 1 hour or more for intricate, stylistic productions. 

Once the shoot begins, each menu item can take anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes to capture the variations and angles needed. It’s crucial to cook the food as close to photo time as possible, and especially for cocktails and drinks to be presented right away. 

Keep in mind that you will be expending at least one of every item on your menu and you will need staff on deck to dish everything, so there will be additional costs to you besides the photographer’s rate. The best way to make the best of this inevitable expense is to organize your shoot day at a time where your team or a local influencer can be present behind the scenes, generating social media buzz for your concept while enjoying promotional grub! You could even use it as a product knowledge class for your staff, to refresh them all on how every dish is made and enrich the culture of your brand.

Taking a quality restaurant food photo depends on the layout of the restaurant, the natural lighting in the restaurant, and whether you require set props or models. 

Professional food photographers will always perform a location scouting days prior to a restaurant project to ensure they bring the right equipment, and have composed angles storyboarded and ready in mind. They also take into account any unique limitations in advance and plan around possible obstacles so shoot day goes smoothly for everyone! 

Your finished images should be formatted at an HD resolution or higher. Once you create your marketing designs and materials, each of those variations should be reformatted and saved in all the necessary dimensions for Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, etc. 

Lighting, specifically 3 point lighting, is one of the most important factors in photography

  • Key light – used to illuminate the dish / subject
  • Fill Light – used to remove shadows, create balance in composition
  • Backdrop light – used to create a clean crisp line and dynamic range

If you cannot afford a professional photographer, you can use cheaper lighting and equipment to start out capturing the images you need for your business.

Once you grow to the point where you need professional services, we’re here to help! If you have any food or menu photography questions, contact our studio directly to speak with one of our professional food photographers. 

professional Food Photography PRICING


$ 499
  • Pre-shoot Consultation
  • Up to 25 Menu Items
  • 2 Team Photos
  • 180 Minutes
  • Professional Editing
  • Professional Lighting
  • High-Res Digital Copies
  • White/Black Backdrop
  • Green Screen


$ 799
  • Pre-shoot Consultation
  • Up to 50 Menu Items
  • 5 Team Photos
  • 300 Minutes
  • Professional Editing
  • Professional Lighting
  • High-Res Digital Copies
  • White/Black Backdrop
  • Green Screen


$ 999
  • Pre-shoot Consultation
  • Up to 75 Menu Items
  • 10 Team Photos
  • 420 Minutes
  • Professional Editing
  • Professional Lighting
  • High-Res Digital Copies
  • White/Black Backdrop
  • Green Screen


$ 1499
  • Pre-shoot Consultation
  • 100+ Menu Items
  • 15 Team Photos
  • 480 Minutes
  • Professional Editing
  • Professional Lighting
  • High-Res Digital Copies
  • White/Black Backdrop
  • Green Screen

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