Finding high quality photos of dishes?
March 11, 2011 4:20 PM   Subscribe

What options do I have when it comes to finding high quality photos of dishes for a recipe site that I'm thinking of launching?

One option would be to accept user submitted photos. The problem would be the uneven level of quality.

I have been looking at purchasing photos from stock photography sites such as iStockphoto, but even a single image costs a lot if you want it in a larger format and be able to use it on-line.

I could take the pictures myself but I'm not particularly good at this nor would I have the time.

What do you think?
posted by Foci for Analysis to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you know anyone who would be willing to take the photos in exchange for getting the good? I'd do it if I was anywhere near you.
posted by theichibun at 4:32 PM on March 11, 2011

Best answer: I think that if users are submitting recipes, users should submit any photos that are going to be used. Stock photos of a given dish will bear only coincidental resemblance to the product of a particular recipe.

If you are putting up your own recipes, you should have pictures of your own food. If you don't trust your own food photography, hire a professional.

Aside from the problem I mentioned above, I would have less confidence in a website that uses stock photography for recipes that are clearly user-contributed, because it would be obvious that the consistently professional photos aren't representative of recipes coming from random people.

I know that it's easy to go horribly wrong with food photography. Perhaps you could get someone who knows what they're doing to write up some tips and guidelines.

Also, I would suggest that if you have time to run a website, but not time to photograph food, then maybe you don't have time to run a website after all.
posted by adamrice at 4:33 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here's the deal. I have this idea for a recipe site but honestly I can't barely make an omelet. I just want to create something useful within a niche that I think has been overlooked. If I provide the platform then users can submit recipes and photos?

Anyways, the entire project is just a couple of days old so I'm still fleshing it out.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:07 PM on March 11, 2011

Best answer: I don't think user-submitted photos are a problem. Who cares if the quality is uneven? People like to take pictures and post them online. They do that anyway, with any random thing that interests them, and most foodies are really into food photography.

I know that if I were to go to a recipe site, seeing stock photos would be a total turn-off. Seeing professional pics would be nice, but the ability to submit my own would encourage me to get involved and create an account (or whatever). It's also important from a collaborative/social-networking perspective. GroupRecipes is an example of a site with user-submitted content that works well.

Good luck!
posted by methroach at 5:20 PM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: adamrice, yeah, stock photos ain't gonna work.

methroach, thanks for suggesting GroupRecipes, it's sorta like what I had in mind. I want to create a really polished user experience and some GroupReceipes photos are ominous.

So user submitted recipes and photos but with a slightly demanding photo submission policy?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:29 PM on March 11, 2011

User-submitted photos will probably encourage more interaction, the whole social aspect, etcetera. They may not be fantastic or even technically good, but they're theirs and that's important for getting users hooked.

I'd pair those photos with some nicely designed icons/illustrations for recipe categories, ingredients, and so forth.
posted by bhayes82 at 6:07 PM on March 11, 2011

Best answer: You could have a photo submission policy and an approval process for user submitted photos, much like how FoodGawker and Tastespotting function. Both sites accept user submitted photos and recipes (in the form of links), then use a strict approval process to ensure only quality photos are posted on the site.

I agree with others that stock photography won't cut it. If you're looking for an alternative to shooting your own food, maybe check local colleges and universities for volunteer photography students wanting to build up a portfolio?
posted by geeky at 6:53 PM on March 11, 2011

Best answer: What about user submitted videos of the food (not of the actual cooking itself)? Videos taken from multiple angles using a 3 M smartphone in good lighting can be great and fun, more than photos.
posted by theobserver at 9:45 PM on March 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks geeky for bringing FoodGawker and Tastespotting to my attention.

theobserver, haven't thought about video before - interesting suggestion that should be feasible both from user and hosting perspective.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:29 AM on March 12, 2011

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