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Digital photography is the perfect companion to the restaurant experience, especially during your vacation, a special dinner with family and friends or a romantic evening for two. Thanks to global communications (and a flood of food shows on cable TV and their matching popular Web sites) the interest in food, as a major symbol of human culture, has increased dramatically. What was once a small, elite group of “gourmands” has now become a worldwide horde of “foodies.” If you’re one of them, then photographing the food that you might have traveled across states or around the world to eat is a must.
To record your total restaurant experience in digital photos, you want more than just close-up pictures of food. You want to tell the entire story, from the food to the location to the ambiance/décor to the staff to those with whom you are sharing a meal, and even other patrons. Try to think as a professional would that was assigned to capture the essence of a restaurant or food experience. Even if you’re not a professional, your restaurant photos will be more compelling and interesting if they tell a story. It will generate more “likes” for your Facebook page than the typical tourist images.
This three-part PhotographyTalk.com article presents a number of tips and ideas to help you bring home great photos of your restaurant experience.
If you approach your restaurant photography as an assignment, then, like a good pro, you’ll plan ahead. If you have targeted a specific restaurant and its atmosphere and food, then you probably already know some of the reasons you want to go there. Those details are the beginning of your shot list, whether it’s the décor, food, etc. You can also do some research on the Internet, especially if the restaurant’s Web site has pictures. The experience of a planned “photo assignment” will prepare you for those spontaneous restaurant visits. You’ll quickly recognize the opportunities and spot the elements that will reveal any restaurant’s uniqueness in your photos.
The other important task to do in advance is to contact the restaurant and explain that you would like to shoot photos there. You want to make sure you are aware of any rules or to make an agreement to bend the rules during this one occasion. For example, if you tell the manager you would like to shoot photos of the kitchen during food preparation, then it may be better for you to come a number of hours before the restaurant is filled with patrons.
If you walk into a restaurant without having talked with the manager, then ask to speak with him or her and explain you are patron at the restaurant and would like to shoot pictures of the occasion. What you’re allowed to shoot and whether you have access to the kitchen will probably depend on the type of restaurant and, frankly, the kind-heartedness of the manager. Be prepared for some to be so busy as not to have time even to talk with you. If you haven’t made arrangements in advance, then your photos should probably be limited to your table and the food on it.
One of the elements that may have attracted you to a particular restaurant to shoot is its location. It could be situated on the ground floor of an elegant downtown hotel or modern structure of architectural significance. It could also have a simple storefront entrance that has been creatively designed and decorated. The restaurant could also be in a country or vacation setting, beside a large lake or framed in a valley by mountains. Include some digital photos of the exterior features of the restaurant too. The entry, signage, architectural accents and other elements will also help you tell the complete story of your experience.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for more photography tips about capturing your restaurant experience.