Developing an Appetite for Food Photography

You’ve just ordered a meal at a fancy restaurant and the waiter is bringing it over to the table. What is your response? Do you put your napkin on and pick up your knife and fork or do you pull out your camera or smartphone ready to snap it for your food blog?

If the latter sounds like something you’d do, you may be interested in a career in food photography and here we’ll explain how to get started.

Food photos should make you “lick your lips”
Food photos should make you “lick your lips”

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Different food photography jobs

If you fancy a career as a food photographer, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are many different routes you can take, from editorial work, to shooting for food manufacturing and packaging companies and working with cake makers and pastry artists. As a freelance food photographer you’ll get the option to work with a wide range of clients, which will be very rewarding and great for building up a solid portfolio.

Getting experience and building up a portfolio

The only way you are going to kick start your career as a freelance food photographer is by getting experience and building up a great portfolio. In order to get experience, we recommend getting in touch with local restaurants and cafes to see if you can work with them on photographs for their menus or any editorial pieces they have coming up. If you are just starting out, there’s no harm in offering your services for free in order to get experience and build up your portfolio.

We also highly recommend setting up a blog (if you haven’t got one already) and joining social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can use your blog to upload your work and create an online portfolio. Social media is great for advertising your services to potential clients, sharing your work and engaging with industry contacts.

Stock food photography

The other option you have is to shoot stock food photography and sell it to websites like Shutterstock and Getty Images. If your work is accepted by the stock photo websites, you will be paid every time a user chooses to download it. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds, as you will face tough competition from other food photographers. The key is to make your work stand out for the right reasons. Do some research to find out what sort of photos the companies are looking for and what they already have too many of. You can then differentiate your food photography and make it unique, so it is more likely to get accepted and earn you a profit.

Food photography tips

Photographing food brings a lot of creative opportunities
Photographing food brings a lot of creative opportunities
Image source:

Don’t overcomplicate it

The key to great food photography is not to overcomplicate your shots. Let the food speak for itself. You don’t necessarily need to cram in loads of props in order to make your photos look attractive and interesting.

The most important piece of equipment is your eyes

You don’t need the latest DSLR camera or the best photography equipment in order to create fantastic food photography. Ask any professional photographer and they’ll tell you that the most important piece of equipment is your eyes. Use them to spot great photo opportunities and identify how you can set up a shot to make food look even more appetising.

Don’t over-edit your food photos

Food photography should be natural and realistic. Although it can be tempting to manipulate your food photos in Photoshop and create wonderful masterpieces, you won’t really be doing your job by over-editing your images. If you are photographing food for a restaurant and you over-edit it, the customers are going to see your pictures and expect the dishes to look the same when they visit the restaurant. If the presentation differs, they may leave unsatisfied and it’ll be down to your misleading photos.


The food industry provides so many fantastic opportunities for budding food photographers, it’s just about taking the time to build up your experience and see what’s out there. We hope the tips in this article have given you an idea of how to get started and wish you the best of luck in your new venture!

Image credits: JoePhilipson and jlastras

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