Telling the Story of Food

Compiled and presented by Stephanie Heinatz of Consociate Media and Sara Harris of Sara Harris Photography.


Think about this…where do you often find yourself telling, sharing the best stories? For us, if it’s not in writing, it’s while breaking bread together. That’s what made a recent event at Waypoint Seafood & Grill for the Virginia Chefs Association so great…where we joined Sara Harris Photography in leading a discussion on telling the story of food through imagery and social media.


Pick two social media channels.

We get it! Chefs are B-U-S-Y! Don’t get overwhelmed by social media. Identify the top two social media channels you think will reach your audience AND that you can effectively maintain. For the chefs in a suburban, we recommend Facebook and Instagram. For chefs in a more urban setting, we recommend Twitter and Instagram. Also, try at the very minimum to create a LinkedIn profile.

Create your personal brand.

You are a brand as a chef and representative of your restaurant’s brand. Don’t rely on just your personal accounts on social media. Create ones that are unique for you as a chef. Diners enjoy getting to know the chefs behind the dishes they enjoy as much as the restaurants themselves. Also, share posts and photos with your restaurant’s marketing team for use on those marketing channels. Special note: ensure you have a professional headshot as your profile picture for accounts you are branding for yourself as a chef.

Be social.

Social media is meant to foster social relationships. Don’t just post it and forget it. When people comment on your photos, comment back. Start a conversation. Go and like and comment on other brand and personality pages. Tag people.

Use hashtags on your photography.

These (noted by a #) are used to unite posts on a single topic. It’s like a targeted search engine. There are thousands of acronyms, cryptic phrases, and nonsense words (#instafood, anyone?) chefs are adding to their photos – and sometimes getting tens of thousands of likes for it. #hastagit

Photos. Photos. Videos. Photos.

Photos and videos are the top pieces of content users on social media engage with, like, share or otherwise comment on. Use imagery always. On all platforms.


Find the light.

Lose the flash. iPhone and Andriods have robust camera software. Turn off your flash setting and use an existing available light. Natural lights is always the best option and some of the best light can be found near windows or doors. Shoot with the light, rather than into it. A trick to exposing properly is to simply tap the screen on your phone where you would like the focus/sharpest point of our picture to be.

It’s all about perspective.

With food, it’s visually compelling to shoot from directly above or at table level. When shooting from above, hold the phone perfectly parallel to the surface of the food. When shooting at table level, hold the phone at a low angle perpendicular to the table, or even use the table to balance the phone.

No zooming.

Zooming often distorts image quality. If you want to get in close to your food, physically get much closer to it. Also remember that story may be better told including the entire vignette. For example, the busy motion in the kitchen or the whole scene at the farmer’s market.

Keep it simple and skip filters.

Backgrounds add to (or can subtract from) the story. When the food is the star, keep the ground simple, a wood cutting board, a table top with a fork. Look around and think about the entire scene before you take the picture. You’ve worked hard to create a beautiful plate, so don’t let Instagram filters dictate the color palate. If the image needs a polish, a subtle adjustment to contract, exposure and vibrancy may be all you need.

Lift the curtain and go behind the scenes.

For better or for worse, we live in the age of reality shows. So give the people what they want. Wide-angle shots of the kitchen in action (blur included), the bustling of a farmer’s market, or even what you cook at home are compelling to your followers.

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