When dining out with my PR girlfriends, the topic of conversation often turns to advertising – we just can’t help it!
My biggest bugbear is why in the main; restaurateurs employ photographers to take images of their restaurant minus the diners. Why would they advertise their restaurant as somewhere with no customers?
If I want to provoke a heated debate with my PR’s I normally start by saying, “Taking photos when the restaurant is closed because it’s convenient won’t do the business any justice.” This will immediately hit a nerve with my construction and interiors PR chum, who will argue that an empty restaurant shows off the attractive seating or overhead lighting. Great – agreed, but use those images for the Interiors magazines, not for your website or e-newsletters!
If I’m looking for somewhere to eat, I would never dream of going into a restaurant that’s empty because to me it suggests that the offering isn’t very good. So if a restaurant is trying to entice paying customers into their place using images on their website or social media platforms, why show photographs of it with every seat empty and no food in sight? Surely it is important to evoke a response from potential customers, to represent the restaurant as the owner wants it to be perceived; popular, great food, good atmosphere and happy people.
If I were to look through the window of a restaurant and see this scene then my reaction would be completely different. I would assume that this place must be OK as it is quite busy, and the people in there look like they’re enjoying themselves.
When I asked Jacqueline Franklin, Director of Hospitality Media about this somewhat touchy subject, she agreed with me. She said, “We have photographed many restaurants over the years and have concluded that proprietors want to showcase their recently re-furbished restaurant and not clutter it up with meal paying customers! Whilst we appreciate that they want nice clean shots of fine new upholstered furniture, there is a danger the images can feel cold, empty and void of life.”
Then there’s the question of which people to use in your restaurant images. Food and restaurant photographer Joel Knight said that, “It all comes down to budget, and hiring models cost a lot of money – even renting a crowd will set the restaurant back a free meal.” A somewhat myopic attitude on the part of the restaurant owner I feel! Joel agrees that, “People do significantly enhance the romanticism of being in that restaurant for the person the experiencing the photo.”
I tend to agree with Jacqueline when she says that surely images of a full or busy restaurant would be a natural phenomena to capture on camera than nothing at all and I’d even go so far as to say that some images of staff laying tables for service or a bartender serving drinks to a couple of customers with their backs to the camera would be better than nothing. But maybe that’s just me!