Jul 10, 2016


It’s undeniable that Instagram has become one of the most popular image sharing apps in the past couple of years. It’s an addictive stream of visual pleasure that has led to more and more individuals and brands sharing their images with the world.

As it’s such a great platform to showcase aesthetically pleasing content, it’s vital for brands who hold aesthetics as one of their core beliefs to use it to communicate their brand identity and engage users. In this post we’ll be focusing on one industry in particular that can benefit significantly, Cafes and Restaurants. With food, drink and interior spaces lending themselves so well to beautiful imagery that can entice a potential customer, if you’re a cafe or restaurant brand manager/owner you should definitely be building a presence on this platform.

However, it’s understandable that if you’re new to the platform or don’t have much experience, it can be a struggle to understand what kind of images to produce to best communicate your brand identity. So I thought I’d share my top Instagram tips for cafes and restaurants in a bid to get you on your way!


1. The Overhead Table Shot/ Flat Lays

Flat lays are a term coined by the Instagram community which describes a shot taken top down, very literally, of things that are laid out on a flat surface. This type of shot works extremely well when showcasing a table spread and lets you present your food in a clean and eye catching way.

The key to these shots are lots of good natural lighting and a well thought out set up of the scene. It’s great to use props that communicate the feel of your space or your food. It’s also important to choose the right surface, for example a rustic wooden table will give off a totally different feel to an all-white minimal surface.

Flat Lays & Overhead Shots for Cafes & Restaurants

LEFT: Flat Lay with minimal colours by @sohogrind, RIGHT: Flat Lay (taken by me) of Haunt restaurant in Stoke Newington


2. Interior Design Concepts

In this day and age your restaurant or cafe is as much about instagrammable moments as much as it is about the food. A huge part of this is the internal decor or design space that the food is being served in. Chances are you’ve created a space that evokes a certain feeling or fits a particular theme, these elements can make for great photos that will assist in communicating this feeling with potential customers, making it all the more reason to come and experience it for themselves.

A good tip is to focus on details in your design, whether it’s a carefully crafted collection of plants on a window sill or a quirky retro light fixture. Similarly, taking some wide shots can evoke the feeling of a calm and inviting space.

Interior Design Shots For Cafes & Restaurants

LEFT: Photo of a minimal chair by @nordicbakery, RIGHT: Photo (taken by me) of stone interior finishes at Haunt Stoke Newington


3. Customer Photos/ User Generated Content

If you’re not the Instagram pro, chances are that some of your customers are. Using a repost app or tagging and thanking your customer for their photo usually goes down without any problems – just make sure you always acknowledge the picture taker.

This is also great as you can also build hashtag campaigns around this which can encourage customers to take photos, giving you more material to choose from! It is important however that the shots you choose fit with the theme of your social accounts and aesthetic. Do you have a minimal all white aesthetic? then try and choose photos with a similar vibe!

Instagram Tips: User Generated Photos For Cafes & Restaurants

Great examples of user generated content from @nordicbakery, generated through the use of the #myquietmoment campaign


4. Take Pictures Of Your Niche

Do you manage a bicycle cafe? Take some pictures of vintage bicycle memorabilia. Do you run a Portuguese restaurant? Then let your customers see some great promo shots for upcoming food festivals in Portugal. Figure out what you’re about, figure out your identity and then post that in image form.

This is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd, essentially putting yourself across more as a lifestyle brand than just a cafe or restaurant. It also gives you a lot more photo opportunity than just food allowing for even more content to work with!

Instagram Tips: Photos Of Niche For Cafes & Restaurants

LEFT: Dishoom feature @poeticpilgrimage and the upcoming Eid Milan event on their instagram page, RIGHT: @chineselaundryroom communicate their love of bold and colourful art pieces that work alongside their theme


5. Offer A Backstage Pass

People love exclusive access. As well as that, it’s an extra opportunity to showcase the atmosphere of a cafe or restaurant. You could take behind the scenes shots of your kitchen in action, you could take pictures of your staff getting ready for the day — you could even take pictures of your morning run to the food market.

Offering customers insight into your process is a great way to build a connection and allow customers a better understanding of your brand identity. As with the points above, it’s important to keep these in a consistent style to communicate a single brand message.

Instagram Tips: Behind The Scenes Shots For Cafes & Restaurants

@caravanrestaurants feature their backstage activities from the chefs in the kitchen to their internal staff training


5. Don’t Overuse Filters

Food in particular doesn’t tend to look too good when strong filters are applied to the image, mainly because the colours and textures are compromised. In order to show food in the best light, applying a subtle filter to best bring out the colours or to adjust the tones of the photo is a good option.

We can see in the example above that a strong filter compromises a lot of the detail of the food and doesn’t look as clean and crisp. In the second version, only a subtle filter has been applied in VSCO (I’ve gone for J2) and the contrast and shadows have been increased a little for more impact. This works well to bring out the details of the shot as well as creating a minimal feel.

Instagram Tips For Cafes & Restaurants: Do Not Overuse Filters

LEFT: Edited with the Valencia filter on Instagram — image is too over processed, RIGHT: Image edited with minimalist filter on VSCO


6. Be Consistent

Have a consistent style and stick to it. Having a photo style helps someone coming across your feed to understand your identity very quickly. This can be easily achieved in different ways some examples are; sticking to the same type of composition, using a consistent colour theme or using the same filters to edit your photos.

When a feed which uses different shot styles, filters and colours — what you find is that the feed doesn’t flow or communicate a single style. In the examples below we can see the feed uses similar types of shots with consistent colouring which instantly communicates a single theme.

Instagram Tips For Cafes & Restaurants : Be Consistant

Consistant photo styles and themes from @sohogrind and @duckandwaffle


If you’re a cafe or restaurant, then I’d love to know what kind of pictures you like taking that make you unique — please leave a comment down below and let me know!

Follow me and my picture taking journey on my Instagram and VSCO channels — and don’t forget to hit that recommend button below if you found this useful, I’d really appreciate it!

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