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Great photos can make your Yelp reviews stand-out and may help you become a more trusted reviewer. While learning to take great food photos typically requires practice, you can take your photos to the next level with a few simple techniques. With the right lighting and framing, your photos could be food-blog worthy. Just don’t forget to enjoy your food while it’s still hot!


[Edit]Lighting Your Photo

  1. Choose a spot with bright natural or overhead lighting. Good lighting is essential for a great photo. Natural lighting is best, so position your photo closer to a window if possible. Otherwise, move your food so that it’s under the overhead lighting.[1]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 1.jpg
    • Look at the light and shadows around your food. Move your camera or the food as needed to illuminate the food and create shadows around the dishes for contrast.
  2. Use an LED light to brighten your photos if you prefer. If you photograph your food often, you might decide to carry an LED light with you. Position your light to one side of your food or above it. Adjust the light until you’re happy with how the arrangement looks.[2]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 2.jpg
    • If you’re dining with someone else, ask them to use the light on their cell phone to illuminate your dish.

      Variation: You may want to use a reflector or diffuser to create more even lighting, especially if you’re photographing food to promote your restaurant. Set up your LED light on 1 side of the dish and the reflector on the other side. This will evenly disperse the light over the food.

  3. Use the exposure slider on your phone to adjust the lighting. Tap on your camera screen with the tip of your finger. When the sun icon comes up, look for the line that appears. Drag your fingertip along the line to adjust the lighting up or down until you’re happy with the brightness.[3]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 3.jpg
    • Try taking photos under different exposures to see what you like best.
  4. Create contrast by staging the food near lighter- or darker-colored objects. Contrast is the difference in brightness between your subject and the items around it. Typically, the human eye is drawn to high contrast. Position napkins, utensils, or dishes that are lighter or darker than the food you’re photographing near the dish to make the food stand out.[4]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 4.jpg
    • Alternatively, use negative space to create contrast by positioning the food in front of a dark or light background.[5]
    • While you don’t want shadows on your food, shadows under and around your food can be a good thing because they make your food stand out.
  5. Turn off your camera’s flash before you take the photo. While you might think the flash is the key to good lighting, it actually creates harsh shadows and bright spots that will ruin your photo. Instead, use natural lighting, overhead lighting, or an LED light to get your perfect shot. Check that your flash is off before you photograph your food.[6]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 5.jpg
    • In general, using the flash will give your photos that dreaded “amateur” look.

[Edit]Composing and Framing Your Photos

  1. Use props to create a story for your photo. Incorporating props can make your photo more interesting. Fortunately, you likely have several props at your disposal already on the table, like your drink, utensils, napkins, and possibly a vase or candle. After you put your dish where you want it on the table, arrange the other items around the plate to make the photo more interesting.[7]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 6.jpg
    • If you ordered an alcoholic drink or tea, use your glass to create a story.
    • Play around with where you position the objects. For instance, you could put chopsticks beside a bowl of ramen or sticking out of the ramen.
    • If you have a napkin that’s a different color from the tablecloth, you could lay the napkin over the tablecloth and put your dish over it to create more color contrast. For instance, a burgundy napkin would look great on top of a white table cloth.
  2. Make a symmetrical arrangement for an aesthetically pleasing photo. The human eye is naturally drawn to symmetry, so a balanced arrangement will create a more attractive photo. When arranging your table, imagine a line going down the center of the table. Position the dishes, utensils, and table decor so that they appear even on both sides if you want a symmetrical photo.[8]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 7.jpg
    • For instance, you might put the plate in the middle of the table, a vase with a flower on the right top corner, and your glass at the top left corner.
  3. Use the “rule-of-thirds” as another option for framing your subject. This rule is the principle of mentally dividing a photograph into 3 parts both vertically and horizontally. Position your camera so that your subject is along the points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect. The photo will be off-center, which is more appealing to the eye.[9]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 8.jpg
    • For example, you might place your bowl of soup to the right side of your photo. Then, place your glass off to the left side and place your folded napkin on the left side of the bowl. The eye will naturally go to the bowl.

      Tip: Use your smartphone’s “grid” toggle in your camera settings to help you frame and align your photo. Open the camera settings, find the “grid” toggle, and turn it on. If you don’t see a grid toggle, you might download a photo app like Camera 360.[10]

  4. Take an overhead shot to show the food and ambiance. An overhead shot can capture the vibe and branding of a restaurant. Set up your table to show the restaurant decor. Then, stand up or hold your camera over the table to snap your photo. Include the table arrangement, dishes, and utensils.[11]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 9.jpg
    • For example, you could remove your personal items from the dinner table and arrange the dishes, utensils, and table decorations so they’re even. Then, stand up and take several photos from above the table.
    • You might also mix in other items, like the menu or printed drink napkins. Get creative in how you arrange the table.
    • In photography, this is called the “master shot.”
  5. Snap a photo that’s close to the food but shows branding elements. This type of photo lets you highlight the food while also capturing the vibes of the restaurant. Place your food near a logo, decoration, or other dishes. Then, take several photos from different sides.[12]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 10.jpg
    • As an example, you might photograph a plate of sushi with the menu off to the side of it. Similarly, take a photo of an ice cream sundae in front of the creamery’s logo on the wall.
    • Photographers call this a “medium shot.”
  6. Shoot a close-up photo to show layers, specific ingredients, and sauces. It’s okay if the background in your photo appears blurry, as long as your subject is clear. In fact, a blurry background can make the food stand out more. Get close to the food and allow the camera lens to adjust its focus on the dish. Then, take your photo.[13]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 11.jpg
    • For instance, you might position your lens right in front of a hamburger to show the juices even though the background gets fuzzy.
    • A photographer would call this a “close-up shot.”[14]

      Tip: Move physically closer to the food rather than zooming in on it. If you use the zoom feature, your photo will become pixelated.

  7. Photograph your dish from multiple angles so you have options. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the perfect shot on your first try, and that’s totally normal. If you want to take good food pictures, you’ll need to snap multiple photographs and pick the best one. Take a variety of photographs from different angles. Then, scroll through them to identify your best shots.[15]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 12.jpg
    • The best angle for a photo will depend on the lighting and the type of food you’re photographing. Play around with your camera so you have options.

[Edit]Choosing and Editing Your Photos

  1. Review your photos to find the shots you like best. Look through all of the photos you took from different angles. Choose 1-3 shots that best present the food and the story you want to tell. If you’re using multiple photos, make sure they show the food from different angles so each one tells its own story.[16]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 13.jpg
    • For instance, you might pick an overhead shot and a close-up shot.
  2. Use a photo editor to edit your photos. The editing features on your phone likely won’t be sufficient for creating great Yelp photos. Download a photo editing app so you can adjust the contrast, highlights, and color in your photos. There are several photo editing apps you can try.[17]
    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 14.jpg
    • For instance, you might use VSCO, Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom, Fotograf, or Foodie.
  3. Crop the photos to eliminate unnecessary borders, if necessary. You may not need to crop your photos if you’re happy with your composition. However, you may decide to crop a photo that has an excessive background or includes things you don’t want in your final photo. Click on the “crop” button in your photo editor to open the cropping tool. Then, adjust the borders to create the composition you want.[18]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 15.jpg
    • You may want to duplicate the photo before you crop it, just in case you change your mind later.
  4. Enhance the contrast on the photos to bring out details. Contrast helps the food stand out on the plate and distinguishes it from the background. Additionally, it can help the eye pick up smaller details like individual ingredients and sauces. Click on the “contrast” button on your photo editor and slide the toggle on the adjustment bar until you’re happy with the contrast.[19]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 16.jpg
    • You want the contrast to be a little higher than its normal setting but not so high that your photo looks unreal. Typically, this requires trial and error.
  5. Increase the brightness to make highlights more noticeable. Your photo will have highlights where the light glints off of the food, dishes, and any props you used. When you change the contrast, these highlights might not be as noticeable. To make them crisper, click on the “highlights” button in your photo editor. Then, slide the toggle on the adjustment bar to slightly increase the highlights.[20]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 17.jpg
    • You don’t need to increase the highlights much. If the image starts to look too glaring, reduce the highlight.
  6. Adjust the color to make the food look true to life. Typically, food looks a little different on camera than it does in real life due to factors like lighting. Fortunately, your editing app can remove any overtones that appear on the photo and make the color of the food pop. Click on the button for color adjustment. Then, adjust the hue and saturation to fit what you saw.[21]

    Take Good Food Pictures for Yelp Step 18.jpg
    • If your app allows you to adjust white balance, click on this button to see if it improves your photos. If you don’t like the result, you can always undo the edit.


  • Tell the person you’re dining with that getting a good photo of your food is important to you before you sit down to dinner. Ask them to be patient for a few minutes while you get your perfect shot.


  • Don’t let your desire for a good photo rob you of your dining experience. It’ll be hard to rate the restaurant if your food sits out for too long.




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