The Potential Reputational Damage of Bad Food Photography!

February 11, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Wandering through the streets of Barcelona recently, I found myself contemplating, who on earth eats in those tacky tourist restaurants that seek to entice people in with laminated photos of badly lit, unappetising, gaudy meals. It got me thinking that there are many food establishments with similarly unflattering photographs of their dishes online that might not tell the true story of the delights they are cooking up in reality!


Poor food photography can damage a business’s reputation so if you serve amazing food it’s imperative to get some photographs that do it justice and showcase it to the world.


I have been a Highly Commended Finalist for International Food Photographer of the Year Award and I have had the privilege of photographing (and eating!) at some of the best food establishments in the South West! We have some amazing local eateries and I am passionate about creating visual images that truly represent how good they are!


The Two Bridges Hotel, Dartmoor - Summer Menu


I have been photographing for The Moorland Garden Hotel since 2012 when Michael Caines opened their Wildflower Restaurant. Here is what the Manager has to say about the importance of good food photography:


"Cooking amazing food is a core part of our business here at the Moorland Garden Hotel and to make sure we get the most from this fabulous food we have to have the very best pictures for our publicity, marketing and articles. For a quick shot on social media your everyday smartphone is ok but when it comes to the real deal you have to call on a professional. We have enjoyed working with Portia over a number of years and the photos she has taken really make our food stand out. To be in the best magazines you simply have to have the best high resolution shots and we have been proud to have had articles in Devon Life and Tastebuds among other food driven publications. We were winners of a Taste of the West Gold Award and overall Best Restaurant a few years ago and I am sure our pictures helped. Since then we have held a Rosette Award from the AA very year. Don't take our word for it, come and see if the food is as good as Portia makes it look!"


Food Photography at The Bedford Hotel, Tavistock


I specialise in food photography, with a background in marketing and art I create fresh images that not only look good but focus on a business’s brand values. When doing a photo shoot I take time to understand the ethos of a business and translate that into images that reflect it well. How do I do this? Well within my images I create positive subliminal messages to potential clients by considering what the backdrop, lighting, hue, colour temperature, props, angles etc. are conveying. For example, when commissioned by The Moorland Garden Hotel to photograph chef’s ‘Slow Roast Pork’ for a recipe in Food Magazine I photographed the dish alongside the fresh ingredients with their garden in the background...the clue in the name of the hotel!. I also made sure the weather was good for the shoot to convey a sense of relaxation with delicious, fresh, local food on hot hazy days.


Slow Roast Pork at The Moorland Garden Hotel Yelverton Plymouth


Similarly, when I was asked to photograph mulled wine & mince pies for The Bedford Hotel I chose to shoot it in front of their beautiful wood panelling to communicate something of the historical nature of the hotel. I contrasted this with a crisp white tablecloth to accentuate the elegance and attention to detail the hotel prides itself on. Then of course most importantly to tempt the chilly public in, the mulled wine had to be shot steaming hot!


Mulled Wine & Mince Pies at The Bedford Hotel Tavistock


I love taking photographs for The Bedford Hotel, the Two Bridges Hotel & the Dartmoor Brewery and have been doing so since 2014. They continually win awards and are published in prestigious magazines often accompanied by my photographs of their food and drink. In fact, they display my photographs out the front of their hotels enticing people in, not with tacky touristy photos that turn your stomach but with tasteful, elegant photographs that make your mouth water and turn a ‘I wonder what it is like in there?’ to a ‘I have to going in right now!’


I asked Mike Coombes, Sales & Marketing Manager of The Bedford Hotel & Two Bridges Hotel how investing in professional food photography has been worth it and he said:


"We take great pride in using the very best seasonal ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and producers, to create dishes which delight both the palate and the eye. It is therefore essential that we have excellent photography which presents the dishes beautifully and which whets the appetites of our customers. We use professional food photography for our brochures and marketing flyers and across all digital platforms. Occasionally a quick "in the moment" photograph captured with a good quality smartphone does the trick, but for quality visual presentation which really shows off the quality of our ingredients and the skill of our chefs, a regular programme of professional photography is an essential part of our marketing mix."


When I heard The Stable was opening a branch in Plymouth with their ethos of using fresh local produce I was delighted. I contacted them, photographed their launch party, cool decor and food. Wanting to see their business succeed here (for very selfish reasons...I am slightly addicted to their 4 Local Cheese pizza!) I used my contacts to get them a complimentary double page spread in Devon Life Magazine with my photographs and copy.


4 Local Cheese Pizza at The Stable Plymouth


I am a founding member of the Totally Awesome Women’s Network a fabulous team of self employed women who support and inspire one another in all things business.  We each chose a ‘word of the year’ to focus going forward in 2020 and my word was ‘Invest’! At the start of 2020 is it a good time for you to review the food photographs representing your business online? Then if necessary invest in some good food photography that is worthy of your creations? I would love to chat with you about us working together to make that happen.


I am doing a special offer for those of you who have read this far! 10 dishes photographed for £95...that is less than £10 a dish! So for the cost of 1 dish just think how many people would be tempted to come and book a table! As they say 'pictures speak louder than words'! * 


Click the link below to see a gallery of my food & drink photography:


Some examples of my published work:

My Photographs in publications showcasing some of the best food and drink in Devon


*(To claim the above offer please quote ‘FoodBlog’. Offer valid for 2020 and applies to businesses within 10 miles of Plymouth...if you are further afield message me and I will give you a quote!)


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