If you’re anything like us, you can’t help but eat with your eyes.
Whether it’s a picture-perfect plate from your favourite restaurant or a tantalising triumph from your own kitchen, when the food looks that good, it’s a crime not to document it!
But aside from a gorgeous filter and an Instagram post, it’s likely your passion for food photography is yet to be realised…until now.
Today, we’re exploring everything you need to know about working in food photography. Unpacking everything from experience and education to salary and perks, here are all of the key ingredients you need to launch a five-star-worthy career.
What is a food photographer?
A food photographer is a professional camera operator who specialises in the photography of food products.
Pictures are used for a variety of purposes in a variety of formats, from articles and recipes to packaging and advertisements.
What does the job entail?
Well, you’re going to be taking plenty of food snaps – obviously! But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.
The role of a food photographer isn’t just to capture the look of the product in question. A gifted food photographer is also able to evoke the smells, textures and tastes of a product through the images they capture.
To pull this off, there’s a lot that goes on behind the lens.
You’ll likely be working alongside other departments such as marketing, with defined goals that inspire your technique, approach and final product.
Whatever the goal, you’ll also have a hand in technical aspects of the role, too, including lighting, props, framing and arrangements to name just a few.
What skills will you need?
In the age of camera phones, everyone fancies themselves as an expert of the craft. But the reality is that professional photographers boast a skill set that far exceeds simply finding the right subject.
The primary skills needed for a career in professional food photography are:
- Expertise – you’ll need a keen eye for detail to ensure you capture the right image. Food photographers have an innate understanding of what makes up a photograph – lighting, placement, lens, framing and more – and know how these elements can be exploited and adapted to achieve different results. What’s more, they also understand how to integrate goals and purpose into their imagery – ensuring product images appropriately reflect the relevant branding, for example
- Efficiency – slow and steady doesn’t always win the race. Like many creative industries, you’ll likely have to balance client demands and deadlines without ever compromising on the final product. It’s not uncommon for food photography projects to involve a lot of behind-the-scenes magic, including extensive work on the aesthetic presentation of the product. With this in mind, you’ll need one finger on the shutter release at all times to ensure you never miss that perfect shot – allowing you to work efficiently and effectively in the face of time pressure
- Organisation – food photography can open up a range of career opportunities across different industries. Because of this, many choose to work freelance, meaning they have flexible day-to-day working hours. This means thorough organisational skills are a must. Even if you’re working in-house, it’s not uncommon for food photographers to have multiple shoots in a single day, meaning your logistical and workload management must always be on point
- Teamwork – as we’ve mentioned, your photograph is often one piece of a bigger puzzle. Because of this, it’s important you’re able to work well with others, opening your eyes to the bigger picture to understand how your role contributes to the greater goal
- Passion – as with any profession, you’re likely to achieve far greater success if driven by a genuine passion. Whether it’s a passion for tummy-rumbling food or eye-catching photography (or, ideally, both!), your enthusiasm for your role will undoubtedly shine through in the final product
What qualifications do you need?
If you’re considering a career in food photography, look to complete a relevant photography course to gain the experience, knowledge and exposure you need to succeed.
This doesn’t have to be a course dedicated solely to food photography. Seeking broader education in photographic theory, practical camera skills and commercial awareness will give you the necessary versatility and know-how to succeed in this exciting, fast-paced environment.
Be sure to build a portfolio worth shouting about, too. Showcase the best of your talents by keeping a showreel of your work – and make this as diverse as possible to show off the big, beautiful spectrum that is your creativity.
What about the pay?
Like many creative job roles, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to matters of salary. Instead, it’ll most likely depend on your experience, track record, project and client.
Of course, this will also depend on whether you opt for a freelance or in-house role. In-house food photography roles are being advertised at anywhere between £22,000 – £32,000 right now, though this range can often be exceeded by specialist agencies. If you chose to become a freelance food photographer day rates can vary depending on experience and the client budget. Small takeaways and restaurants wishing to promote their online promotional materials and menus can pay around £150 – £300 per day whilst leading food and drink brands can pay anywhere from £300 – £600 per day.
Food photographers exploring freelance avenues charge, on average, around £150-£450 per day. Of course, this all depends on the frequency and nature of the projects you secure.
Is a career in food photography for you?
Like what you hear? You’re not alone – many culinary fanatics are taking the leap into an exciting career in food photography, opening the doors to a whole host of new opportunities.
Whether you’re a young person entering the professional world for the very first time or a seasoned pro looking for a fresh start or new challenge, we’re here to help.
Our HNC Photography course is designed to give you the perfect recipe of the creative skills and technical knowledge you’ll need to start a successful career as a food photographer. Enrol in a course today to find our start dates and fees today.
Interested in a job as a Food photographer search on Jooble and click here.