We eat with our eyes; always have done. Colour was key for our ancestors, who judged the nutritional value and safety of food based on its hue. Today the picture is more complex, but our visual relationship with food is still king when it comes to eating behaviours.

Take, for example, the diners who were served the same meal of chicken, rice and beans in two different presentations. It’s no coincidence the plate they deemed to be more attractive was also the plate they judged to have better flavour. What’s more, if you take away the seeing, you don’t just reduce the pleasure – you reduce the eating itself. Blindfolded participants in one study ate 22% less food than their fully sighted counterparts.

The impact of photography for food brands cannot therefore be underestimated. A good food pic ignites the senses in ways words cannot. Pictures of food on social media are as popular as cats doing, well, anything. If you’re in the business of food, you need to be whetting the appetite of your online visitors with imagery they can’t refuse.

A feast for the eyes

The terms ‘gastro porn’ and ‘food porn’ have been hashtagged more times than you’ve had hot dinners. Tantilising food pics are the new follower bait and visual hunger is the hedonism of the millenials. We desire food imagery almost as much as we desire the food itself because these images elicit real responses in us: our brain's reward centres light up, we salivate and we feel a strong need to satisfy that desire.

Social media users and potential clients are seeking these images, stopping in their tracks and engaging on an emotional level if they like what they see. Good food brands make use of this basic human response. Food photography is a rapidly growing business. Even food tourists and bloggers know it’s crucial to master the art of the palatable portrait.

For starters

Every element of your visual representation is a chance to tell your story. Images create a brand personality as much as tone of voice. The colours, the composition, the feeling; all down to the plate the food rests on. Everything about this picture is going to sell your brand. Make sure you’re using prime ingredients.

Photography is your opportunity to provide consistent brand messaging and reinforce it at every turn. Choose images that breathe your brand. No stock imagery here. At Giant Peach, a lot of legwork goes into figuring out how to translate personality into pixels before we even pick up a camera. We consider lighting, saturation, location, tone, mood, what you want to say, who you’re speaking to and of course a photographer’s instinct for what makes a great shot.

The main course

People like to know what they're getting. A customer is more likely to buy a product they’ve seen in the flesh or in a photo than one they’ve not seen at all. Your imagery is your opportunity to guide your consumer: a picture can be a snapshot instruction manual, telling them ‘this is what it can/should look like’. But remember: quality is key – even on eBay, listings with higher quality photography are 5% more likely to sell.

Don’t skimp on your photography. Your visuals make or break potential investors interest in your business. We've all seen the dodgy images, laminated and plastered on kebab house windows. What words might you associate with that photography? Bad. Cheap. Lacking quality. Words that aren't far removed from those you might use to describe the food itself (hey, no judgment! We’ve all been there). These are not words you want associated with your food, or with your brand. Your imagery should reflect who you are as a business.

Sweet as a nut

The way food is presented visually affects consumer flavour perception. Even better is the news that a positive reaction to your images modifies subsequent choices and consumption behavior, so with tantalising imagery you’ll gain followers for life. With so much choice and a tendency to make judgments based on looks, make it easy as pie for your visitors to choose you over the competition with on-point food imagery.