1. Beautiful food plating – This is the cornerstone of any great food photo – the composition of the elements on the plate. I went to a French bakery that added blueberries on a plate with a single croissant, just for the effect. Or adding a simple garnish, getting large ceramic plates and building the dish along one side, swirling noodles into a pile in the middle of the plate, there are so many ways to do it.
2. Interesting plate ware – Hand-thrown ceramic plates with shallow lip edges or funky vintage printed plate ware, whatever you go for, make it fun, unique and in line with the brand image of your venue. Check out this Bon Appétit post on the trend for hand-thrown ceramics at restaurants.
3. Kitschy and cool décor – Maybe your venue’s thing is unicorns or adorable table decor (see ceramic milk carton creamer). Having something that is quirky and fun means more snaps and more grams. I worked at a café with a neon sign that said ‘breathe’ over a swing chair – IG was flooded with pictures of people on our swing chair. Instant sensation – people from out of town came in just because their friends had posted that picture.
4. One super unique and novel menu item – You’ve heard of the $100 Barclay Prime Philly cheesesteak, right? That’s okay if you haven’t, though it did make headlines when it was released – read about it here. While we don’t necessarily think you need to have a $100 menu item, coming up with something novel (and slightly outlandish) will certainly get you in the press and get people talking. Maybe it’s a fully-stacked Bloody Mary or a flaming board of meat, add something noteworthy to increase exposure.
5. Have good lighting – No one ever took a great photo without lighting. Ensuring that your restaurant has enough light for customers to take good photos is the single most important thing you can do. I’ve been in too many dark establishments with beautiful food that I have no photos of (and the photos I took were definitely not worthy of IG). Increase the likelihood of someone getting a great shot by making sure your place is well lit.
6. Live plants (especially succulents) – succulents, the non-thorny, super hearty and tough to kill plants in the same family as cacti. They’re having their moment in the sun and are all the rage, but even a simple plant wall could add a touch of green, Instagram gold. I can think of one bar in Honolulu and everyone in the venue just had to have a photo taken in front of this living wall on the rooftop.