Ken Burgin

restaurant photography

Photo Shot List for a Restaurant or Cafe

The bar is set high for hospitality images of food, venues, atmosphere and happy customers – phones can take excellent photos. And sometimes you need a professional photographer – their eye for light, composition and subject matter can create pictures that make a much stronger impression. Like all professionals, photographers work best with a clear and detailed brief – the Shot List. If you have it properly worked out and all the food, beverages and equipment ready, you can get hundreds of shots from a half or full-day shoot – click, click, click!

Multiply your images: Each one of these individual topics can have multiple versions: the bowl of noodles can be viewed from the side and overhead, held in someone’s hands or with steam rising from it. You can also add movement – broth being poured onto it, chopsticks lifting some noodles, and a happy face enjoying it. Suddenly a menu of 30 items can create 150 different images.

Take photos for different situations: Think of where you will be using the photographs and take vertical and horizontal shots of the same image, plus ones that will work in a square format. Take some with plenty of ‘white space’ on the image, which can have text over it for a header or explanation photo. If you’re photographing an event space, grab photos of the room before events and at the beginning when the tables look presentable. And it’s always a good idea to prepare a big Christmas Photo Library.

Add people to the images: use staff or professional models for people images, and have them bring several different outfits so you can have formal, casual and even celebration shots from the same two or three people. Make sure they sign a Media Release so you can use their images at any time. Choose models who look similar to the people who are your core demographic – the young glamour look doesn’t represent your customers if your main demographic is family dining.


  • Each menu item individually
  • Table of meals
  • Flat-lay images
  • People holding plates of food

Kitchen – Back of House

  • Cooks preparing food
  • Preparing food – close-ups of hands working, cutting etc.
  • Preparing food – machinery working e.g. mixers, ovens
  • Food being put in oven and pulled out
  • Food being plated

Front of House

  • Empty venue
  • Room with customers enjoying themselves
  • Staff serving customers
  • Busy activity, atmosphere & efficiency


  • Using the coffee machine
  • Coffee beans in hopper & for sale
  • Milk being poured in a flat white
  • Smiling barista
  • Two baristas working side by side
  • The coffee machine with/without smiling barista
  • Holding product for sale e.g. beans


  • Setting up the bar
  • Cleaning the bar
  • Pouring wine and beers
  • Shaking cocktails
  • Garnishing cocktail and soft drink
  • Scooping ice
  • Carrying drinks on a tray
  • Restocking fridges


  • Empty function room, set for a meeting
  • Empty function room, set for parties of different types
  • Meeting room with people
  • People talking at a meeting table
  • Party room with people
  • Presenter at whiteboard
  • Close-up of meeting tables
  • Close-ups of party table settings
  • Staff serving a party

Staff Activity

  • New staff member being instructed on coffee machine use
  • Staff delivering meals, drinks, coffee
  • Staff solo being shown info in a manual, on a laptop and on an iPad
  • Staff group being shown info in a manual, on a laptop and on an iPad
  • Staff briefing before service
  • Staff using POS or cash register
  • Staff taking money and giving change
  • Staff using EFTPOS machine


  • Customers looking at the menu
  • Customers walking in the door and walking out the door
  • Solo customers enjoying coffee and reading
  • Customers talking to wait staff
  • Customers talking to each other
  • Customers eating and drinking
  • Customers with wine and beverages


  • Full shot of the front
  • Details of the front – menu, signage, architectural features, street setting
  • Neighbourhood shots with interesting details
  • View of customers through a window
  • View of street looking out the window
  • Parking lot or other useful features
  • Courtyard or garden
  • Fireplace or other interesting features
  • Day shots and night shots

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

restaurant photography

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