Snap Good Photos in Restaurants

Pizza from Delfina

The lighting in restaurants is a photographer’s worst nightmare. The dim, yellow lighting makes food look dull and unappetizing and without a flash the photos often turn out blurry. Of course using a flash has its drawbacks, with harsh shadows and bright reflections, which will make even the most beautifully plated dish look downright insipid (not to mention the ire you’ll draw from your fellow diners).

Sony recently gave me a chance to check out a new point-and-shoot that hasn’t even come out yet, and I got to share some tips on taking good photos in restaurants, at Delfina (one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco). They’re tips that will work with any camera, so check out the video and head over to Sony’s blog for the full post.

FTC disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to post this, however I did get paid by Sony for doing the video.

  • Peter G

    Love the video Marc…great stuff!

  • sweet road

    Cool video! There have been so many times in my kitchen where the lighting terrible and I’m feeling lazy, so I’ll use the “balancing on whatever is around” method as well. And as usual, you have beautiful photos!

  • Ravenouscouple

    we’re looking for a PS for kim, can’t wait to see the model you’re testing out! great video/interview!

  • Darren

    Cool video!

  • Inthekitchenwithkath

    Loved the tips, Marc! Thanks so much!

  • Thekitchenwitchblog

    You have such a great personality for the camera. Nice video, I enjoyed it.

  • the indolent cook

    Great work! It’s fantastic that you’re getting all these opportunities.

  • Bunkycooks

    Congrats, Marc! This is all very exciting for you. I enjoyed watching the video.

  • KalynsKitchen

    I love Delfina! Once when I was in SF eating at Frances and desperately wanted to take photo I had my dining companions hold the candles from the table as lights on the food! Going to check out your tips now.

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  • Edamame2003

    thank you mark! a really interesting and fun video to watch. i like the point and shoot tips–i use a sony cybershot point and shoot so your tips are going to make a big difference. a food setting on the new cyber shot? Nice!

  • Rachel/CoconutCrumbs

    Marc, congrats on a great video. I absolutely agree with lighting as the #1 important factor for good food photos. I am still stuck with my point-and-shoot, and have to take ALL my food photos during the afternoon light. Things I learned 1) start angling my photos for more interest 2) use objects to create my own “tripod.” I appreciate your tips, thank you very much.

  • Tastemonials

    Great video. I currently use a Sony Cyber-shot and will definitely look at WX9 with the food mode.

  • Scott

    Hah, fantastic timing! I was just looking for an article like this yesterday, my restaurant based shots (and home, to be honest) are always terrible.

  • Gina

    That was great, Marc! You have a great way of simplifying the photographic concepts that budding food photographers need to understand, and you manner and presentation make it seem less intimidating to try out your techniques. It’s great to hear that you will be publishing some cookbooks soon! I’m sure they will be beautiful!

  • Genie

    lol. I’m considering only eating lunch and in well lit restaurants to get perfect shots.

  • Foivi Geller


  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tips, Marc! Congratulations on such a great video!!

    Now, how about during candle lit dinners?! =)

  • eva

    Great video Marc! I’m also a Sony user! Using the A700 and A900 right now, love them both and looks like we have the lens….great for food photography. Its so nice to see other pros using Sony Alpha’s …here in B.C you don’t see a lot of pros using them and its a shame since they are such great cameras. PS that pizza looks amazing!

  • Saul Karl

    Marc, thanks for posting this. Could you give any tips on shooting food photos in restaurants where there is no natural light?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      All the same tips apply (especially things like using a water glass as
      a tripod). Having a bigger sensor and brighter lens also help.

  • Lori Lynn

    Hi Marc – enjoyed the video. Low light in restaurants at night is my biggest problem. Maybe I need a newer model point & shoot? I bought mine in 2007.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Technology moves so fast these days I usually change out my cameras
      every 2 years. A newer P&S would definitely help with the low light
      situations. Make sure you do your research and look for a camera that
      does better in low light.

  • Mr. Bill


  • Stacey Snacks

    Time to upgrade my 3 yr old camera……thanks for the tips….you know I am restaurant photo challenged!

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