Being a food photographer might just be one of the most gratifying jobs anyone can have. The start, however, might be a little tougher than most. You might have seen plenty of photographers aspiring to start food photography. However, there are very few who even get the slightest inkling of the recognition they aim for.
At its core, food photography involves taking pictures of food, beverages, restaurants, the people involved in making the food. Some food photographers manage to go farther beyond and capture the soul and essence of what the food truly means to people. The goal of a food photographer is to make the chef and restaurant feel that their craft is being showcased in the best possible manner.
You will find a majority of people taking pictures of their food and uploading them on social media platforms. Although this might seem trivial, that is one of the best ways anyone can become a food photographer. There are, however, more structured means of turning your hobby into something more professional and career-oriented. In this guide, we will take a look at how you can combine your daily ‘Instagramming’ skills with serious photography techniques to build a sound portfolio. We will cover topics including where to start, how to plan, how to network, and most importantly, how you should learn from your mistakes and improve as you go.
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Have a Business Plan
One of the key foundations of any successful business venture is the business plan. It is the skeleton on which the success of your business is eventually constructed. Although food photography might not exactly be a business venture, the initial parts of your journey are akin to any other business. Here, the product or service you are selling is your photography skills. Your target audience can range from your friend circle to every user on Instagram.
Keep timelines and goals for your task list. For instance, you can aim to post a picture on a particular day, analyze the public reception the next day, and then come up with a plan of action to improve a particular aspect of your photography.
Food Photographer: Get The Right Set-Up
Your smartphone might be a capable shooter. If you look at the work of professionals, however, you will see that they often use dedicated cameras. Although purchasing a high-end shooter might be a bit excessive, you should consider investing in a camera with manual controls.
A fixed lens might offer you superb detail and sharpness in your photos, although you still won’t be able to control the aperture and perspective. These days, quite a few entry-level DSLRs and compact mirrorless cameras are equipped with manual controls.
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Create an Online Food Photography Portfolio
One of the best ways to promote your work is through a website. While curating your Instagram might be great for business, it still does not show that you are genuinely interested in taking up food photography as a career.
A website helps you add more depth to your portfolio. It can also act as a placeholder for a future career. On a personalized website, you will be able to display your work in full. A website when running in tandem with multiple social media accounts can be extremely impactful. If you are unsure about where to start, a simple WordPress-based site can be an excellent addition to your portfolio.
Food Photographer: Social Media is Key
Earlier we discussed how social media is a breeding ground for budding photographers. In the case of food photography, the power of the platform is amplified drastically. Social media is perhaps the most accessible platform for anyone, and when it comes to food photography, the reach could not be any bigger.
Every single trend in the restaurant industry can often be linked to a social media post. The best suggestion would be to constantly take photos of food, even your daily meals. Ensure that the quality of your photos does not degrade because of the increased quantity. If you feel that your snaps are not getting the attention they deserve on social media, go back, and reassess your projects before continuing to take photos on a daily basis.
Draw Inspiration from Other Food Photographers
There are plenty of legends in the food industry who had a humble start. Many didn’t even have careers in photography, let alone the food business. Some of them have never worked in a kitchen or only know the basics of what goes on in the food industry.
Attempt to get in touch with them and start a conversation. Learn the ins and outs of food photography by actively communicating with professionals. Reading their stories should not only inspire you to pursue food photography but also help you avoid the same mistakes they made in their early years.
Keep Learning and Stay Consistent
While a spotless portfolio is the best way to get noticed, it is unrealistic to expect that all your photos will be well-composed and sufficiently meaningful. It is important to keep reading, observing, and improving your techniques. Experiment with different settings and conditions on a daily basis. This will help you gain hands-on experience, build confidence, and stay prepared for any scenario.
Food photography is amongst the most popular hobbies in the world, and also one of the hardest photography niches to break into. Almost everyone these days has a capable camera and social media is flooded with images of food. Making the jump from a novice to a professional might be challenging. However, with constant practice and a desire to keep learning, you will be able to become a top food photographer. The road for freelance photographers is quite tricky, and where you end up is determined by your communication skills, efficiency, desire to excel, and of course, your mastery of photography.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.