Food has always served as a muse to artists across the world and throughout history. The Romans not only enjoyed feasting, but their architecture also had food depicted on the floor and on walls. The 15th-century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo had replaced facial features with food in some of his most popular paintings. Pop artist Andy Warhol’s most iconic work is his painting of a soup can.
Food has always figured into art and, in the modern era, many artists are still putting food as the front and center. It is not just artists, too. Ever since social media became people’s online diary, photographs of food flooded News Feeds. A report from 2018 estimated that over 130,000 photos of food were posted on social media every day in the United Kingdom.
Not everyone is creating photographs of food that will be revered by generations to come, similar to how people in the present look at and remember the works of Arcimboldo and Warhol. But food photography has become a popular vocation.
The Age of E-Commerce
E-commerce is now a major way for consumers to shop for their wants and needs. During the pandemic, online purchases became more important. It was, it turned out, resilient to sudden changes and crises. When countries went into lockdowns at the height of the pandemic, brick and mortar stores became potential hotspots for virus infection and needed to be closed temporarily. Through e-commerce, people who were sheltering in place got the chance to buy necessities. Businesses, too, relied on e-commerce to survive the pandemic.
During the pandemic, it became part of a lot of people’s regular habit of ordering ready-made food from local restaurants. While people were spending more time at home, they were still working full-time as well as juggling household chores and childcare. There is not always time to make homemade meals.
From April through September 2020, the top four food delivery apps in the United States – DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates – raked in $5.5 billion in combined revenue, more than twice the same period from the previous year.
After the pandemic, the outlook for delivery apps and food delivery, in general, is positive. Many analysts predict that consumers will continue to order meals to be eaten at home once the crisis is over.
Many food and beverage establishments will continue to rely on delivery apps to boost their profit and reach more customers.
The challenge now for restaurants is to stand out in the competitive market for delivery apps.
Food Photography in Marketing
There is a great demand for food photographers now that consumers order their meals online. Businesses need to promote their offerings digitally to potential clients through a delivery or social media app.
If done right, food photography can be an amazing way to elicit hunger and want from the viewers.
According to research, the act of looking at food activates the areas of the brain associated with taste and reward. So, when a person encounters an image of food that looks good, they get the same pleasure as actually eating it. In fact, food photography influences a person’s experience of food, too! One study found that participants enjoyed a meal better after they were shown a good quality photo versus a poor picture.
In e-commerce, the image of the product matters a lot when it comes to sales. Brands, therefore, hire top models, photographers, and photo editing services for e-commerce product images. There is the same expectation for food. A good quality photo of food will encourage a customer to make a purchase, especially when browsing online.
The Elements of Good Food Photography
Taking a good photo of food requires skills and vision more than the equipment used. There are four things that need to be considered in every shot: the plating, the lighting, the composition, and, later on, the editing.
First, the food has to be arranged in a way that is aesthetically pleasing—chefs already “plate” food in a way that looks good and makes sense. You can have a messy plate if the product is a salad but, generally, consumers respond better to order. Allowing them to see different layers or elements of the food is more entrancing.
Of course, lighting also matters a lot. The food should be visible in the shot. You want to bring out the different textures of the food. However, avoid harsh lighting that makes the food look unappetizing. Here is a general tip: if you are using natural light, take photos during the morning or late afternoon when the sun is not too bright and high up in the sky.
Composition is all about the angles and selective focus. Ask yourself, what do you want to highlight? If you are selling a burger, for example, the cross-section will show off the juicy patty and the melty cheese. If you offer desserts, colorful frostings, and moist layers of sponge cake, will make consumers want to have a bite. Editing should be realistic because, otherwise, consumers will be disappointed with what they see.
Entrepreneurs will have to boost their online presence during and after the pandemic because of the popularity of e-commerce. To promote their products online, especially if they are selling food, they need professional food photographers.