Brought to you by BeerMenus

Here's how to take good photos for your bar, restaurant, or brewery's social media profile

Last updated August 17, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Given how visually driven social media is, it's essential to have good photos that catch customers'—and prospective customers'—eyes. But taking good photos is hard, especially if you don't have any training. Where should you take the photos? When? How many? How often?

Enter Rob Austin, who has a background in photography and videography and now runs marketing for Leader Bar in Chicago. We picked Rob's brain for easy tips (that anyone can do) on how to take great social media photos, and he gave us nine great ones:

  1. Take pics on a sunny day and use indirect natural light. For Rob, the ideal bar photo is this: in indirect light, take a photo of the food/beer/whatever with the bar in the background, drenched in that natural light.
  2. If you have a good photo-taking place or two in your bar, stick with it. Don't force variety for photo location—the important thing is that you take good photos, not that you're taking them in different places around the bar.
  3. Schedule a photoshoot. When Rob sees a good weather day (clear and sunny) coming, he'll coordinate with the chef to just go to town and rack up photos of everything he needs. This way, the next time he wants/needs to post he doesn't have to scramble to take a photo on a crappy weather day. He's already got the photo(s) he needs.
  4. Depth of field part 1: Show the subject of the photo up front. The bar should be in the background, but not crystal clear—you want a photo where you can tell there’s a bar in the background and see there’s a TV, but not be able to read the tap handles or see who's playing the baseball game that's on the TV. That stuff is distracting.
  5. Depth of field part 2: adjust if necessary. if you’re shooting a plate of food, tilt the back of the plate up by setting it on something that's like an inch tall. Much higher than that and it looks weird, and lower than that and you can't really get an idea of how delicious the thing on the plate is.
  6. Don't take just 1 or 2 photos of the thing you need. Take a minimum of 30, with slightly different perspectives and angles. Cover your bases here to make sure you get a great photo—it's not like you're going to run out of room for your photos.
  7. Put all your photos into a Google Drive folder. If they're in the cloud, you can always access them if you're in a hurry, if your phone dies or gets lost, etc. It also means others can access them, so you don't have to post if you're on vacation.
  8. You can reuse a photo, but only if its been a little while. We're talking a few months.
  9. Need inspiration? Follow the examples of other social media profiles that you think do a good job. There's a brewery near Rob—Old Irving Brewery—that he looks to for inspiration. Surely there's someone near you who's doing a good job. What do you like about their photos? ID that and then try to capture it in your next photoshoot.

For more from Rob about taking great social media photos, check out the interview clip, and for more service industry marketing advice from Rob, check out this playlist of all Rob's videos on our Youtube channel.