Do Restaurants Need Pictures to Sell Food in 2022?

Written by Valentina Giorcelli

The question: is a picture worth all the fuss? Influencers, photographers, regular humans; ultimately, is a picture just another overhead or is there a value to it? Is there a difference when the photo is “professional” vs. “amateur”?

Personally, I think that there is value to both.

Eating is one of the most sensorial experiences we have. It involves sight, smell, taste, touch, and, yes, hearing too (two words: Crème brûlée, tap-tap, crack). One of my instructors, Chef Zago, back in the day told us, “remember, you eat with your eyes first. Those few seconds when the plate is put down in front of you is when your brain decides.”

You never get a second chance to make a first impression and so many articles have been written about how long it takes for the human brain to develop an opinion; somewhere around the 7 seconds mark.

Remember, a picture is your visual selling pitch.

So: “professional” or “amateur”?

I love a well-styled, well-lit picture and truly appreciate when a food business, or any business for that matter, invests in presenting its product at its best. It says a lot about how the game is conducted behind the scenes. If well-executed, an image will have you drooling and get your brain to tingle all those other senses way sooner than that 7 seconds mark. Ultimately, it will make diners want to buy!

If I am scouting a new place to eat, Instagram is my first stop. My next stop will be the TAG tab on IG. There, you can enjoy the unfiltered experience; for the most part, pictures shot by other humans with little to no training. Some images are pretty, some less, but they all contribute to the experience.

Because of my profession and work experience, I could be a little biased. So, I went out and asked some friends how they search for new places to eat (assuming no recommendation was given). They ranged from 24 to 63-year-old professionals.

The older friends would reach out to something like Open Table and check the pictures. If the images are good, they will move onto the menu on the restaurant website. If at any point they feel that the details and quality are not there, they change locations.

The younger crowd wants to have a good time. They check Instagram to get the feeling of the place, then the tag tab to get the vibe. But, again, if at any point they are let down aesthetically, they move on.

See the common denominator here?

We all know that a pretty dish is not necessarily tasty and vice versa, but we live in a world bombarded by visuals and this is the reality..

But we also remember, like in any business, you get what you pay for (but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).