When it comes to marketing your restaurant online, you might be tempted to use stock food photography images that you can easily download and put on your website or social media feed.
In the long run, you don’t want to rely solely on stock images to promote your restaurant. Potential customers want to see actual photos of your space, your menu items, and your coworkers. At some point, you will need to hire a food photographer (or at least grab an employee who is good at taking pictures) to take some real photos of your best menu items, the inside of your dining room and some of your friendly and helpful staff members.
Stock photos do have some potentially effective uses for your online marketing. For example, stock photos are useful as a temporary placeholder on your website until you get photos of your restaurant or food taken by a professional.
Stock photos are also indispensable for blog posts and a must-have complement for any content marketing plan. For example, if you plan to write about a certain type of food you can find a capturing image of that food to feature above your story.
Using stock photos doesn’t have to put a big dent in your restaurant marketing budget. In addition to paid services, there are many free stock photography websites that you can use to download royalty-free food images for blogging and other promotional purposes.
StockFood is one of a few stock agencies that is solely devoted to photographs of food. The company works with more than 1,500 food photographers to create its extensive library that also includes videos and recipes. Either pay for just the photos you want or go the extra mile and work with their production team to generate original content for your restaurant.
2. Free Food Photos
This is a treasure trove of free food photos that you can download and use for your restaurant marketing efforts. They are all conveniently organized by categories such as meats or grains. While it isn’t the most extensive collection, it is free and perfect for finding something in a pinch!
3. The Picture Pantry
The Picture Pantry is another professional resource for food photos, and they currently serve some of the countries most well-known cooking magazines and websites. Prices for photos vary by photo size.
This collection of more than 1,400 free food images is one of the best food-focused stock photography sites around. With high-resolution images of cocktails, burgers, pizzas, milkshakes and more, you are sure to find just the right picture for a free download.
StockSnap isn’t food-focused, but there are plenty of fine food photos in this library of copyright-free images. Best of all, this is a free stock photo site with plenty of great images to choose from.
6. Getty Images
Getty Images is one of the biggest stock photo agencies around, and you will typically pay top dollar to download photos from them a la carte. If you want the best deal from Getty Images, you’ll want to sign up for a membership and monthly plan. If you’re planning to only use stock images sparingly, this might not be your best option.
iStockPhoto.com is now part of Getty, but its library is a little bit different. There are still plenty of top-notch food photos worth downloading, and the pricing is typically at a lower entry point than Getty Images itself.
Shutterstock was one of the Internet’s original resources for stock photos and it is still going strong. Like Getty Images, this site is perhaps best suited for high-volume stock photo users.
You can find and download free commercial use photos from Pexels.com. If you want to show your appreciation to the photographer, you can donate directly to them. While donating is optional, it is a great way to support creatives for producing wonderful images.
Unsplash is another free stock photo site where you can find food images. It has a large library and is very easy to use.
11. Wikimedia Commons
Any photo you see on Wikipedia can generally be used for free on Wikimedia Commons, as long as you provide a citation or credit to the photography under a Creative Commons license. There is a Wikipedia article for just about everything, so you might find the exact photo you need here.
Flickr is one of the original photo-sharing sites but as a source of stock images, it can be hit or miss. Certain photographers will permit you to use their images, usually in exchange for a credit or citation. Besides, you might even be surprised to find photos of your restaurant already on the site as it is a favorite among food photographers!
When all else fails, consider embedding one of a billion animated gifs from Giphy onto your website. These are great for blog posts or social media and can be a fun way to express an emotion or feeling with your clientele. There are quite a few mouth-watering gifs online that you can use to creatively market your restaurant.