Shop Here This Year

Thank you so much for attending my #ShopHereThisYear workshop – I hope you found some value in the session. This page contains my slides, notes and the links from my presentation so you refer to it whenever you like.

Presentation Slides

How and why to make your business vegan-friendly

Why cater to vegans?

Let’s be honest – if you don’t have at least one vegan-friendly option on your menu at this point, you are going to be left behind.

The stats suggest that the future is vegan:

And speaking from my experience, because I am the one with the dietary requirements, my friends often ask me to choose the place we go to to make sure I am catered for. So making your menu more inclusive will not only attract more vegans, but also the friends and families they dine with.

How to make a vegan friendly menu

  • Use clear vegan labelling
    • VG is now generally accepted
    • Also label your wine and drinks lists!
  • If something can easily be made vegan, state it on the menu
  • Be open about your preparation
    • Cross-contamination is still a contentious topic. Some vegans will avoid entirely while others are more relaxed – the best you can do is be open and honest about your preparation environment so the individual customer can make up their own mind
  • Include fat, fibre and protein in your dishes
  • Offer some truly tempting vegan-friendly desserts – beyond the usual fruit salad and sorbet choices

How I take my food photos

Camera kit

I use both a “proper” camera and a simple smartphone camera, depending on the situation.

My camera is an Olympus OM-D E-M10. I got it about five years ago and purely because it reminded me of the old camera my Dad used to take when we went up the mountains. I like it because it’s small, lightweight and portable.

But to be honest, the camera body is inconsequential – the quality of your photos depends much more on the lens. Lenses can be four to five times the cost of your camera body!

For my food shots, I use a fixed-width 45mm lens. Fixed width means that you can’t zoom in or out, but no moving parts mean you get much more image quality for your money. 45mm is a nice width for getting a shallow depth-of-field which gives my food photos that nice “blurry” background.

My “proper camera” works well for my signature “close-up” shots. But for everything else, I used a humble smartphone camera.

My current kit is a Samsung A-71, which is pretty mid-range. The technology and software that goes into these cameras is so good that as long as your composition is right, you can still get some really decent photos.

Some rules for composition

1. Showcase colour and abundance

Photos that are colourful and show “lots of stuff” tend to get more engagement on social media. For example, rather than taking a photo of one lonely doughnut, taking a picture of a whole row of colourful doughnuts will be much more appealing.

2. Have some interest in the background

Make the food the focus of your picture, but also consider if you can add some extra interest in the foreground or background to add some extra intrigue.

3. Shoot during daylight hours

The most important rule! Even with my fancy “proper camera”, nothing impacts the quality of your photos more than the light. Food shots are much easier to take during the day, and look much better too.

4. Shoot as close to your light source as possible

Whenever I enter a café or restaurant, the first thing I do is scan the area for the table closest to the window.

Getting as close to natural light as possible ensures your subject is bathed in that lovely daytime light, and reduces the risk of your natural daylight (which is cold) mixing with your artificial light (which is warm).

My go-to compositions

Close-up

This is my “signature shot” and definitely the one I revert to time and again! This is taken with my 45mm lens and given that I am usually sat in close proximity to my subject, its taken at a short distance. Make sure you have a shallow depth of field here to get that nice blurry background.

I take these shots on my camera, but most camera phones have a “close-up” setting so you can do this on pretty much any device.

Flatlay

Flatlay is a surefire Instagram favourite and can showcase multiple subjects at once.

Good flatlays look effortless, but there is a real art in balancing your composition and this will only really come with practice.

Top-down

Sometimes I get a subject that looks fantastic on its own. This is especially true for dishes that are colourful and abundant. For these dishes top-down composition works really well, but you might need to stand up to get it right. I sometimes use a stepladder if I have access to one!

In situ

If you have access to an interesting backdrop – use it! I love to use this composition at food markets or other interesting places. I always keep the focus on the subject, but adding a quietly confident backdrop always gets good engagement.

How I edit my photos

If you have followed the tips above, you should have a pretty decent photo already. However, I always fine-tune my shots with photo editing software. My go-to’s are:

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is an affordable alternative to Photoshop for PC and Mac. Unlike Adobe software, Affinity is a one-time purchase to own forever. And at the time of writing, it is on sale for 50% off.

It may sound like cheating, but I find the Tone Mapping feature generally gets my photos to where they need to be with minimal time and effort.

But Affinity Photo is a very powerful app, and if you do decide to purchase it I would recommend exploring the robust knowledge base and watching some video tutorials to get an idea of what it can really do.

Snapseed

Snapseed is an excellent photo editing app for mobile, available both on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Some of the filter modes are a bit outdated and corny now, but I still use the tuning features such as brightness, saturation, curves and healing.

Spotted a rogue crumb in your shot? Erase it away with the healing feature!

Increase engagement

Of course, taking good photos isn’t enough. There are lots of things you should do to increase engagement as you post your shot:

  • Get your followers engaging beyond your bio by creating an optimised Instagram page on your website or using a service like Linktree
  • Ask questions in your caption to attract comments
  • Start a brand hashtag and measure its use
  • Tag other accounts – I love being tagged so I can get new tips!

A note on hashtags

Hashtags are key to getting an audience on Instagram. You can use up to 30, but I personally think hashtag stuffing looks a bit spammy and can inadvertently increase your chances of being shadowbanned.

I use three to five hashtags per post, making sure they are relevant and active (but not too active!)

You can get ideas for hashtags using:

  • Leading influencers
  • Competitors
  • Automated Instagram Hashtag suggestion makers (although always check these before you use)

How to measure success

Why are you doing this? Likely it is to get bums on seats. But how can you measure this in relation to a photography / Instagram campaign?

  • Quote exclusive Instagram code for discount
  • Referral traffic from Google Analytics (if you have a website)
  • Special online booking offers

Don’t get tied up in ‘likes’ as a measure of success. Reach, shares and saves are also important.

In fact, I would say shares and saves are a much better measure of success, because followers are sharing their content with friends, or saving for future reference. Both very positive signs!

Task

Take a photo using the techniques you have learned today

Tag #ForeverEdinburgh #ShopHereThisYear and @vegan_edi

(Please note: I’ll engage with as many posts as I can but I will only publicly share vegan dishes)