Why you need venue photos to attract attention

Photos make your venue visible

Without even one good shot your potential first-time customer has no way of quickly understanding your style, size, location, ambience, formality, ethnicity, features and more. To read about all these elements is a big ask requiring paragraphs of text instead of an image that can explain and inspire in a fraction of a second with far greater accuracy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive advocate for quality copywriting, but first, you need to stand out enough to be read. You need to command attention, and that demands a picture.

Good photos can reach right around the world with social media, so don’t miss this opportunity. It’s no accident that many venues contrive to make themselves irresistible to instagramers with feature walls, quirky details, theatrical dishes, (who hasn’t watched a video of Salt Bae or Cacio e Pepe dramatically twirled in a parmesan wheel carcass) or the latest fleeting trend based sugary concept (RIP Rainbow food). While you don’t need to corrupt your concept with these initiatives, if you are here for the long haul then put as much thought into capturing your venue and building an image library as you do to all other aspects of your business.

Photos today are as important as having a logo or a social media presence. You need to appear in as many places as possible because your potential clients are everywhere. It’s fundamental. DropBox and Google Drive make it easy to store your images in the Cloud and to make them available and downloadable 24/7 from your website or a by sending or sharing a link.

Make sure you’re set up for Google My Business (GMB) this requires verification by phone call or postcard but allows you to add great images, short videos, and make weekly Google Posts about your business. Moreover, anything that enhances your presence and searchability within the Google ecosystem is a plus. When uploading your images ensure they are well named and descriptive for maximum relevance in searches while being immediately identifiable as your business.


How to get the best shots of your café, bar or restaurant

To get the best out of a photoshoot you’ve got to know what you need. Photographers are a creative bunch and they may have powerful ideas about what they want to shoot, and it might not be what you need. A close up of your best-made single origin café latte won’t look any different to a thousand others.


Two key terms you need to understand

Aspect ratio – this is the ratio of the width to the height of an image or screen. When visiting an art gallery note that pictures of portraits are typically vertical, while landscape scenes favour a horizontal orientation. Compare these to device screens and print media. Mobile phones work better with a portrait format while desk and laptop devices work better with a landscape format. Ideally get a mix of formats taken. British comedian Tracey Ullman wittily explains the importance of aspect ratio here:

Resolution – Don’t just direct journalists or marketers to source images from your website or Facebook page. An image displayed on a screen that looks clear and large generally can’t be printed without a massive loss of quality. Take a look at the example below to see what I mean. Screens once used a standard resolution of 72dpi (dots per inch) while print needs 300dpi so you can appreciate the vast difference and resulting loss of clarity. Screen resolution images are typically ‘low res’ while print-suitable images are ‘high res’. The actual dimensions of the image can differ again so you can have a high res image with tiny dimensions and vice versa.


Think about the different categories of images

Venue – interior, exterior, functions, events surroundings, details

Food – Styling and lighting

Staff – portraiture

Events – Images of events in progress

On location – video, chefs foraging, travelling, at work in the kitchen

These are entirely different styles of photography so you’ll most likely need separate shoots and more than one photographer for venue shots versus food shots or video for example.

How can images be used?

→ Your marketing initiatives – website, social media, brochures, business cards, signage etc.

→ Collaborations and online directories

→The Media for publicity

Build an image library

You may have some good shots already so ensure they don’t break any of the rules below:

  • Advertising images with print or logos on them
  • Over-styled images that misrepresent or distort the venue or food
  • Images with date stamps printed over the top
  • Arty detail shots that border on being abstract
  • Images that you don’t own or have the right to share. Make sure you have the copyright or permission from the photographer.

Label these photos with your venue name, location, and other relevant details. Consider that the person who receives your images may be a photo editor who doesn’t know your venue at all. Plus if these images are used online then the more relevant detail in the file name the better this will help with SEO and page ranking.


E.g. Wine Bar Name – Façade – Melbourne – photo credit Jane Adams – 01.jpg


For the best chance of a great result consider the following requirements when briefing a photographer:

The number of subjects: What do you want to be shot? Food, staff, interior, exterior? Set the scope of the shoot.

Length of shoot: How much time do you have to get this done? Are there any time constraints, i.e. before service, with natural light, after renovations.

Output requirements: List and prioritise the ‘must have’ images and the ‘nice to have’ images. Ideas for top shots include the signature dish, a hero shot of the interior, a portrait of the chef, whatever it is that matters to you and will attract clients.

An image library can be built over time. Start with the basics and refresh key images over time.