Creative food photography is a hobby that can be turned into a very valuable income source quickly. This can be done for free or with very small initial costs by anyone that has a passion for photography.
- What is creative food photography?
- How much does a food photographer earn?
- Types of food photography
- What do you need for food photography?
- Start creative food photography – Conclusion
What is creative food photography?
When it comes to photography as a hobby we know that we have all taken a photo of food somewhere so why not turn food photography into a home business idea?
The food industry is probably the largest industry in the world and that is evident from all the food content on social media and the web in general. This area of interest has grown substantially over the years because of the easy access and quality of mobile phone cameras.
During this time creative food photography has also grown as the demand for quality images has grown. This growth has created a gap in the market for freelance food photographers to enter this field of photography as a home business idea.
Creative food photography is the skill of creating still-life images from food layouts for use in product marketing such as advertising, labelling, books, magazines, packaging, and menus.
How much does a food photographer earn?
The money earned by food photographers will depend on experience, style, and demand.
For a beginner with a decent portfolio and reputation, the rate can be as low as $20 per hour which in most countries is not a shabby amount to earn per hour but you still have to attract a lot of business to cover enough hours.
If it is a part-time home business then it will give you the opportunity to work on your reputation and portfolio while earning additional income. Your only task is to find the time to do it outside of a normal day’s work.
If you are planning to do food photography as a full-time business you will have to spend your time marketing yourself so you can get enough photo shoots for earning a decent income. Keep in mind that cost of living expenses will come out of your pockets such as insurance, health cover, and pension funds.
This is not a problem once you have a good reputation and build up a strong portfolio. If you have worked on your style, quality and efficiency you will have no problem attracting fees up to $250 per hour for a food photo shoot. There are also possibilities for add-on income such as doing product layouts, printing services, or online marketing.
Types of food photography
When you are ready to start your food photography home business it is a good idea to start off with only one type of niche in order to establish a solid customer base.
There are basically 3 types of food photography you can choose from and they are:
An Editorial food photographer‘s task is to add visual components to a storyline about food, people, or places that will create some reality to the reader’s experience.
Advertising food photography is a different type of photo composition where the main focus is on the food without the clutter. The purpose is to make the food look as good and appetizing as in a real-life scenario.
Packaging food photography changes the focus from storytelling to informative visuals. Here the customer will need visuals that are both inviting and inform a potential customer what the product is all about.
For a complete beginner, it is easier to focus on advertising food photography as the others require more advanced skills and often bigger start-up costs. This is also easier because of the demand for online advertising and product marketing campaigns
What do you need for food photography?
As with any other photography business, the initial equipment outlay can be expensive. That is why most people starting a food photography business from home are people who already have photography as a hobby.
It can therefore be assumed that you already have a lot of expensive equipment if you are passionate about photography. Unfortunately, it will take a little more effort than just a camera in hand.
You will also need:
- Food Photography equipment
- Photographic accessories
Food photography equipment
A DSLR camera is a perfect solution for high-quality photographs but it might take a while for you to become an expert with all the functions and settings. It is a good investment if you are planning to develop a sustainable business from home that you can expand on.
Yes, it is possible and I recommend starting with your mobile phone until you are happy that it is the business you are enjoying and can afford the effort needed to build a business.
One thing you must understand is that there is a big difference between shooting food pics for social media and commercial food photography. There is nothing wrong with starting the online method and working yourself up to a professional food photographer but always know the difference.
The newest mobile phones although restricted can capture high-quality images that you can use easily for most online purposes and smaller customers.
Accessories will always be needed for any type of photography and it is even more important to have the right accessories for your food photography business. The purpose of most photographic accessories is to make your life easier but can also eat your budget if you purchase unnecessary goods.
Some of the accessories you will need definitely will include:
- Tripod extensions for overhead work
- Memory cards
- Spare batteries
Bear in mind that you will be on the move most of the time and need to be as mobile as possible so you don’t want to overload yourself with heavy equipment or unnecessary stuff.
Once again you do not want to overload yourself so make sure that the lighting you get does the best job for your purpose. If you only require a flash then you only carry one or two flashes.
As food photography is part of the still life photography genre you will probably need a diffuser kit as well that can be used to improve lighting conditions.
Most food photographers don’t use a lot of props to capture the perfect shot as the focus is on the product. Most of the time you will make use of what is in the immediate environment that can enhance the focus rather than distract from the central focus.
The two most handy things you can get to assist in isolating the focus on the product will be a food-related backdrop where the immediate environment doesn’t offer anything good. The other is a portable photographic lightbox or as some call it a photographic tent.
Both these with the correct lighting will make every product shoot deliver excellent results.
It is essential that you have your own website that can serve both as a landing page and a portfolio. It won’t hurt to incorporate a blog as it will help your potential client to find more information on your business and the kind of photographic services you can offer.
To do this you will need a hosting service and a domain name for your website. I suggest either Namecheap or Bluehost as they offer the best starting packages at the most affordable rates for a start-up. You can search for a suitable domain name on either of the two or you can jump to my domain search post here
As you will be working on the move and probably make use of public networks a lot I also suggest that you get a trustworthy VPN service from Namecheap. You can read more about it here on my blog.
In order to make your images pop and look professional, you will need to make use of some software. Depending on your target market and client specifications you will probably need to get some of the following software.
- Image Processor – Obviously Photoshop is the flagship but for beginners, there are many other options available. Some of these are completely free and can help you create a quality end product.
- Backgrounds – As already discussed backgrounds can be important where the natural surroundings are not favourable. In this case, digital backgrounds can come in very handy.
- Ad Creators – Your business won’t exist without marketing and you will need software to create your online ads. I do suggest starting with the free option of Canva to keep it simple.
- Web Images – The web images you use in your portfolio or website must always reflect the same quality that you have on offer. Good online software is available to reduce image sizes without losing quality.
When it comes to creative food photography, experience counts and it is very important that from day one you work on self-development. Gaining as much knowledge as you can on the subject will help you build an authoritative presence in the food niche.
The most popular sources for gaining information are through
- Photography Courses
- eBooks about Photography
- Educational videos
Doing a couple of courses on the subject of photography and image processing will help you quickly to understand your limitations. In this way, you will not only learn but also prepare yourself for future needs.
As your camera is the heart of your business I would suggest you start off with a comprehensive course focusing on your DSLR camera. Knowing your camera will reduce the need for image manipulation through software and save you a lot of time.
eBooks about Photography
eBooks make a wonderful source for topic-related information as they can be always kept close by as a reference. Because ebooks are simple to download and inexpensive it is a good choice for beginners.
The web is flooded with video resources that will help you quickly understand your creative food photography niche. Videos are made by either experienced photographers or content creators who have spent some time researching the topic.
Step-by-step guidance or focused information can help you solve teething problems in your business quickly. Most educational videos are free so make the most of them.
Once you have set your mind on starting a creative food photography business the only thing left is to find customers. This can mainly be achieved through advertising.
The 3 main channels of advertising for beginners are:
- Online Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Freelance Photographer
- Stock photography
Although I advise beginners to stay away from online advertising until you know what you are doing it is still the fastest way of getting customers. Not knowing what you are doing can be very costly so I suggest learning how to do online advertising first.
Some people will say that email marketing is dead but it is still very popular if you know and target the correct market. With free email marketing software, any beginner can take a crack at getting customers in this way.
Social Media Marketing
A big presence on social media is always a boost when starting any online business. It is advisable to start with one or two social media platforms that you can manage easily. In the long run, it will count in your favour to be seen across all popular social media platforms.
As I beginner I will suggest Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr as these are where a lot of “foodies” are hanging out. When you are settled you can build a presence on more labour-intensive platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Quora, and Reddit.
Paying a visit to smaller platforms and food forums can also help to get clients who do not frequent mainstream social media.
Still, the easiest way for a beginner to start building up a trustworthy portfolio is through freelancing on web platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork. By taking on minor consignments you will be able to learn the business of creative food photography while learning new skills.
There are many online businesses and content creators that can make use of food photographers in order to give their clients a unique look by not using free stock photos.
Most experienced photographers will also have free listings on stock photography platforms as a way of driving traffic to their online business. This also serves as an additional income for paid images hosted on stock photography platforms.
The whole idea is to build a solid portfolio that can be seen by potential customers.
Start creative food photography -Conclusion
If you are passionate about photography then creative food photography is definitely something to consider doing as an online income stream.
Gaining the knowledge and building up a reputable portfolio may even enable you to turn this venture into a full-time career. There is good money to be made in this niche but it has to be treated as a professional business from day one.
How you create an online presence will determine your long-term success. With a solid food photography portfolio online it will also be possible to expand your business to other product niches without a problem.