How To

How to Take Good Restaurant Photos With Your Camera Phone

What’s the next best thing to eating in a restaurant with your friends? Taking pictures, of course! In fact, of the types of people you find in a restaurant, almost everyone is a photographer. And because eating is one of the most pleasurable things we do, we naturally like taking pictures to preserve the memories.

Restaurants and cafes also try their very best to outdo each other in design, so it often feels like such a waste to visit a nice place and not take a few photos.

Taking good pictures, of course, doesn’t mean having to buy an expensive DSLR. Most camera phones these days are more than adequate for the task, especially with the plethora of photography apps available.

Here are a few tips to make sure that your restaurant pictures always come out beautifully.


This is perhaps the most important element in taking cafe or restaurant photos. More light means better chances of capturing clear and sharp photos that take in all the details. When I go into a cafe or restaurant, I always sit near the windows or a spot where there’s lots of ambient light.

Sit near a window
Sit near a window

In my opinion, the best light by far is natural light or indirect daylight. It provides just enough light for depth and drama, but not too much that your pictures come out overexposed.

Take advantage of daylight

I don’t take photos if the restaurant is dark; I know that it will disappoint me.

Don’t use flash

Don’t do it. Don’t ever, ever, ever use camera flash, no matter how dim the lighting is. Flash creates glare and harsh shadows, and it just looks plain weird. Try upping your exposure level instead. 

Move things around

That includes yourself. Go for different angles. Think about it: people usually shoot from a sitting position. That’s okay, but everyone else is doing the same thing, which means your pictures will look like everybody else’s.

Try shooting from the top. Rearrange your plates and utensils to make it your subject interesting. Move your tables and chairs if you have to. I’ve seen plenty of photos that look messy; a little choreographing can go a long way to fix this.

Don’t be afraid to take a closer look

Closeup, or macro, shots can be a very interesting way of presenting objects. It’s like exploring a whole new world: there are interesting patterns in objects that you don’t normally see at first glance. Forget the usual food shots. Get up close and personal with your subject.

On editing: tread lightly

I always remember what my photography teacher taught me: the more natural the edit, more beautiful the photo is. What I usually do is tweak brightness, sharpness, and contrast, and leave it at that. Here’s an example:


Super loud colours and super high contrasts are fun. There’s a proper place and time for them, but it’s not restaurant photography.

Here are some of my favorite photography apps:

All images belong to Macky Inandan, lifestyle and travel photographer and blogger. Macky loves dining out with his friends and is currently looking for “a joy beyond myself, beyond this world”. Check out more of his photos at The Visual Writer and on Instagram.

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