An important part of any restaurant opening is building a website, establishing social media profiles, and press outreach. Each of these pieces is made exponentially easier if you have professional, high-quality photographs. Photos help tell the story. They bring to life the tangible parts of the brand. They complement the copywriting and really help drive engagement. Reading a sentence or two about a special seafood dish is very different than seeing a photograph of the vibrant colors and the way it’s served. The photography elevates the overall experience and helps people interact with, and remember, your brand.
What happens if the restaurant isn’t open yet?
This is a great question! You need photos of the food to start building the website, but the restaurant kitchen isn’t ready yet. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation – which comes first. When building out the website for Lucca Osteria & Bar we ran into this exact situation. My husband Nick and I worked together to solve the problem.
Here’s what we did. We had Chef Claudio cook out of his home kitchen. We created an official photoshoot set up complete with a backdrop, lighting, and table-scaping. This helped set the scene. We focused tightly on the food – it is the star of the show after all. And from there it was more or less a typical food shoot. We played with angles, worked in some action shots, and experimented with the black backdrop. This high contrast made for some very dramatic shots.
These photos ended up being exactly what I needed to begin to block out the website. It also served as the perfect type of content to start teasing out on social media. Behind-the-scenes content is great when you’re in the development stage.
Here is a collection of images from the “at-home” photoshoot. This is a mix of shots taken by both me and Nick.
Photos for media (traditional and social)
As opening day grew near, we knew we needed to capture more food inside the restaurant. The goal of the next photoshoot was to capture food and drinks in the context of the restaurant, but also to capture the restaurant itself – some signage and interior highlights. Shooting in a restaurant space can be challenging. Lighting is usually the biggest obstacle. Lucca has large windows that run the entire length of the restaurant and fill the space with great natural light, and even that was not enough. Professional lighting is key. We had our standard light set up, and also used a giant reflector to create the highlights we were after.
At this photoshoot we shot with two cameras so Nick and I could both take photos simultaneously. This can be a great way to capture a variety of looks in a shorter amount of time. We were able to get a very large and diverse library of images. I used these photos to round out the website, as well as for the press kit and email campaigns. In addition, this collection of images still serves as a great resource for the ongoing job of social media content creation.
Here is a look at what I captured during our in-restaurant photoshoot.
Having great photography is one thing, but working it into the digital marketing strategy is quite another. This takes a special eye and attention to detail. To see how I’ve worked these photos into the digital marketing strategy for Lucca Osteria & Bar you can visit their website and their Instagram account. Additionally, here is how the photos were used in an email campaign to subscribers. All of these are great examples of how photography can effectively help build a visual brand identity.