If you run a bar and have any intention of making a little money while you do, you’ll probably want to advertise your promotions locally in magazines/newspapers, online on social media channels as well as on your own website.

One of the most important things to consider with print/online advertising is the photography. In an age where we have become immune to advertising and scan pages quicker and quicker, it is even more important for your photos to pop and grab the attention of the reader. It’s one thing grabbing their attention and another thing to get them to visit your bar because of your photos.

I met with a bar photographer yesterday who gave me her top ten tips for making the photography of your bar convince readers to actually visit whether you take the pictures yourself or hire a professional (recommended). Here they are:

A. Keep the colors vibrant – If you want to showcase your food, don’t have all the colors on the plate blend. In addition, make sure the background doesn’t blend with the food so that it’s difficult to make out the image. A pint of Guinness might also be difficult to see against a dark background so keep the colors vibrant and contrasting.
B. Hawk Your Specialty Drinks – If you have a signature drink in your bar, use that in your photographs. If there’s a story behind it, include that in the description. Anything that you offer that no-one else does, is worth advertising.
C. Don’t Use Flash – If you’re taking pictures of food, the use of flash will wash out the food and if it’s fried food, the grease or oil will reflect the flash and ruin the photo. With cold drinks, the flash will reflect in the condensation on the outside of the glass so avoid using it.
D. Use Natural Light - Natural light is what we all see with our eyes, so using it in your photographs will make them look more natural. It can also create nice shadows when used correctly.
E. People, People, People – Unless your bar is an architectural masterpiece inside and people travel from far and wide to admire the floor and the walls (most bars don’t have this luxury), fill the bar with customers for your wide angle bar shots. It shows that people actually show up to your bar and haven’t all been poisoned by the food.
F. Use Your Employees - Shots of your employees posing together and smiling (however forced…) always adds a nice touch to the picture and you’ll be surprised how many people the employees will show the photographs to once they’re published.
G. Jump In Yourself - If you are any way photogenic and some bar owners actually are…a nice posed picture of the owner at the door shows the personality behind the business and allows customers to recognize you when they visit. It’s no harm to be a mini-celebrity.
H. Seasonality Sells – Christmas shots in the summer and snow shots in the spring don’t encourage visitors to make the trip to your bar. Take advantage of seasonal food, drinks and weather when taking your photos to ensure your bar is as relevant as possible when the pictures are viewed.
I. What Year is That? – Clothing and TV/Audio Equipment ages easily in a photo so if you are still using photos with customers in flared jeans holding a brick sized cell phone, you’re going to be called out on it. Keep the photos of customers and equipment current or timeless.
J. Agree the Fee – If you hire a photographer and judging by some of the web photos I have seen recently of bars, I recommend you do, ensure you agree the fee and scope of work with a photographer in advance. Get in writing what you will be paying, what you expect to get for that fee and what additional editing work might cost. Take a look at their portfolio too to ensure you like the shots they take.

If anybody has any bar photos to share, add the links to the comments below for our critique!

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Tags: Bar, Marketing, bar, photography


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Comment by Paul Paz on March 21, 2010 at 12:01am

Or this one... again natural lighting... but no bar. Burgerville's "NOMAD" (mobile food truck) Salem, OR 3/20/10)

Comment by Paul Paz on March 20, 2010 at 11:58pm

How's this pic? Natural lighting too! :-) That my friend Lane Brown, GM and Owner of Vault 244 Bistro - Louonge in Albany, OR. I rode down on my motorcycle today to check out his place!

Comment by Paul Paz on March 20, 2010 at 12:56am
I recently started taking pics of my guests tableside who forgot their cameras and posting them on a social media photo album. I'd send the pic to my guests and include the link to my social media photo.

They LOVE it! Have had some contact me and ask if they could come back for a photo retake in the restaurant (repeat business!) cuz they didn't like the first shot!

You are right Barry.... people, people, people!

Comment by Marcus Guiliano on March 19, 2010 at 11:36pm
Thanks for the great tips. The biggest mistake I see people make is taking and using pictures of an empty bar or restaurant. I totally agree with the people, people, people idea. We have all seen those ads with the bar or dining room and all empty tables and chairs. This one simple tip will make a huge difference.

Comment by Paul Green on March 19, 2010 at 7:43am
Thanks Barry,

Do you have any tips on what kind of camera and editing programs to use, keeping cost in mind?




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