FOMO? YOLO? Here’s How to Showcase Your Products to the Instagram Generation

When it comes to food, looks matter as much as taste. Here are food photography tips from a food photographer and stylist.

In today’s appearance-obsessed, fear-of-missing-out-induced Instagram generation, how you portray your brand online is a global obsession.

How you present your product in social media, especially if its food, can make or break your business. In fact, a 2014 Oxford University study proposed that customers actually rate a food item better and are willing to pay more for it if it looks like it was prepared with thought and effort.

For people like freelance photographer and food stylist Tina Guina, making sure products look just as good as they taste is the key to attracting potential customers. What started as just a weekend hobby in 2014 has evolved into a fruitful business venture as she eventually gained opportunities to work with several consumer lifestyle brands and advertising agencies.

Guina shared some key insights at the Leveling Up Entrepreneurs, Pare event last February 18, 2019 held at Café 1771 in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Why is it important for food products to look as good as they taste?

As the saying goes, “Our eyes eat first.” How a product is presented in a product layout or marketing material can make or break the perception of your target market.

Why should food entrepreneurs care about how their products look?

Any budding entrepreneur would know that competition is really tough. The moment you are able to capture your customers’ attention with a simple photo or product presentation, it will give you an edge from the competition.

Your product photos should speak for themselves without any copy or with limited words. The images should be able to capture [their attention] and tickle the minds of your customers. You should aim to make their eyes crave, and for them get a sense of the flavors of the dish even before they eat it.

Not everyone can afford to hire a professional photographer. Chances are, many small businesses rely on their personal cameras or phones for product shots. When photographing their own products, what things should food entrepreneurs always remember?

When taking a photo of your product, always consider the location and lighting where you will take a photo. Do not use your flash; natural light is always the best. When at home, always shoot where the light is. Best time to shoot at home is around 8am to 10am when the [light] is still soft. It can create a dramatic look for your layout.

Second is to focus on your product and not on props. When you have a nice cupcake, try to avoid adding tons of baking props so the eyes can focus on the [subject].

Lastly, take tons of shots. Don’t settle with just taking one or two photos. Take lots of photos in different angles. You’ll be surprised at how well a product can look in different angles.

Is it important for even small food businesses to hire a professional to photograph their products?

Not necessarily. Other than the fact that it costs a lot, sometimes, it’s best if you can shoot it on your own as you know your products better. You would know what your customers need and [what they] are looking for.

Add a personal touch and angle your product according to how you want your customers to see it.

What are the first things that catch your eye when you look at product photographs, menus, and other branded materials?

[I’m attracted to colors] and how the mood was created, which draws my eye to the focal product. It should tell a story by just looking at the layout. It doesn’t need to have heavy copy or too much text. The photo should speak for itself.

What are your most pressing concerns in managing your business, and what did you do to solve or overcome them?

To be honest, a lot of people think it’s easy to take photos. They normally haggle and not think of the time and investment food stylists and photographers [put in] before each shoot.

It’s a challenge to explain to clients that “art ain’t cheap,” so if they want quality work, they need to also be fair to their stylists and photographers in terms of payment and ex-deals.

Leveling Up Entrepreneurs, Pare was held in partnership with Let’s Eat Pare, Globe myBusiness Academy, the Department of Trade and Industry, and Taxumo.

If you want to learn how to expand your business, or are in need of trainings on production, processing, or marketing, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Negosyo Center helps entrepreneurs set up and offers seminars in running a business. You may also check out Globe myBusiness Academy for more business tips, and the Globe myBusiness Facebook page to find out more about LEAP events.

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