I admit it. I take pictures of food. Constantly.
That’s right, I’m the guy at the table next to you who won’t take a bite until the angle is perfect and the lighting just right. I know I’m annoying – especially to whomever I am dining with-- but I can’t help myself.
To me, after taking pictures with people, photos of food are a great way for me to engage in the experience during dining, and a long time after when I am trying to recall specific dishes I loved and others to avoid, lest I accidently eat the same bad meal two years later.
Photos of food have helped me bond with people over food discussions when I whip out visuals of past culinary experiences, connects me more with chefs who like seeing their work highlighted and gives people a good reason to make of me. Not like they need any more reasons.
But the excuse I cling to most is that it’s part of my job here at Hotel Interactive®. In my role I must pay close attention to dining trends and keeping tabs of my meals via photos is a great way to do that. Or at least I keep telling myself that.
The good news is I’m not alone. Taking pictures of food has become so popular some restaurants have even gone so far as to ban the practice outright. Now that’s a trend! Of course they cite distractions picture taking causes other guests but that’s silly to me since taking selfies, ussies (yes, that is a new word describing group selfies) and images of absolutely everything is now ubiquitous because nearly everyone has a great camera as part of their smart phone.
These days more than 1.5 billion (550 billion a year) photos are shared on popular sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat alone every day, and that number is rising, according to the respective sites and up to half of all photos posted on Instagram are of meals. Additionally, according to Pinterest, 57 percent of its users interact with food-related content.
But that’s not all. Mobile Marketing Watch says 25 percent of all shared passions on the internet are related to food, drink and travel and images of meals make up a huge percent of that number.
So food photography is here to stay and as hoteliers this means your restaurant dishes are under more scrutiny than ever before. That means your restaurant team MUST focus more on food presentation and treat it with the same as care that goes into crafting recipes.
A survey by the Hartman Group shows the food photography trend is booming. That survey said about 25 percent post food photos regularly, and 72 percent of their photos are of entrees mostly during dinner.
Just this past week a colleague on social media mentioned a horrible dish we shared in Mongolia. Yes, Mongolia. I was able to remind her of the horror by posting a photo of that dish. That started a conversation, which is entirely the point of social media. Unfortunately for this restaurant the conversation ridiculed the venue.
But it could just as easily go the other way with high praise if it had been something special. Like this incredible, amazing shrimp enchilada in downtown Las Vegas I enjoyed last fall. That photo now gets pulled out every time Mexican food or downtown Las Vegas came up in conversations since then. I am still spreading the enchilada gospel to anyone that will listen because that photo reinforces my memories of that meal. And you can be sure the next time I get to that part of Las Vegas I will eat there again.
This trend is critical because you really have no control over it and you don’t want to be ‘that guy’ that tells people to not take pictures. With a fascination like this you have to get with the picture (pun most definitely intended.)
Be warned; the stakes are high because one bad looking dish can permanently turn off Yelpers and other social media users to your restaurant. But consistently gorgeous foods will keep people sampling your space.
Here’s some tips to get your food promoted on social media.
- Use dishes and flatware that promote the visual appeal of the food.
- Make sure servers place the food down in a way that gives photographers the best angle to shoot their food.
- Examine your lighting to make sure it’s enough to help people capture the spirit of your dishes, but not so much as to damage your overall aesthetic
- Encourage people to take food photos. Photos make those salivary glands salivate and that’ll send a cue to folks to eat with you.
- Now that smokers are being forced to the street, perhaps you can offer a No Photo zone instead. That way those who detest this trend can eat without worrying about foodie photos.