Rarely does food look as good as it does when it’s been perfectly captured through the lens of a professional food photographer. These specialists know the best way to present food, working closely with food stylists to ensure that every part of a subject is at its best before any shots are taken.

If you’ve ever looked at food on a menu or a billboard and thought it looked amazing, you have a food photographer to thank for that. But how do you get into food photography? Well, read on to find out how to take your first steps into this exciting career!

What sort of salary can I expect as a food photographer?

Photo of food taken with an iPhone

Like with nearly every other form of professional photography, the pay packet you can expect to take home at the end of the month is entirely dependent on whether you go down the freelance route, the agency route or the publication route. If you try to make it as a freelancer, you’re unlikely to make much money in the early stages of your career, as you’ll need to gain experience and hone your craft. However, once you accrue a list of clients, you can agree rates that work for you.

If you decide to sell your images to agencies or online photo libraries, it can be a solid, albeit time consuming, source of income. If you work directly for a publication, you’re guaranteed a pay cheque every month, though the likelihood is you’ll have to work your way up from an entry-level role. Depending on your position, your employer and your ability, salary will vary.

How do I become a food photographer?

Young woman photographing food

Realistically, there are several paths into a career as a food photographer. The most essential aspect, somewhat unsurprisingly, is knowing the fundamental principles of photography. This includes everything from lighting, filters, shot composition and editing.  Aside from picking up some formal qualifications, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of making it as a food photographer:

  • Having a passion for what you’re working with is always essential. You won’t get far if you don’t have a love for food or a varied knowledge of different foods. If you’re serious about getting into food photography, knowing what makes certain food look delicious is a must!
  • Take part in food photography workshops. Must traditional photography courses won’t spend a lot of time focusing on shooting food, so it’s a good idea to pursue a food photography workshop. These can get you in touch with other artists and increase your knowledge, helping you to hone your craft.
  • Building a portfolio is essential to your success. You should always compile your best images, either online or in a physical portfolio, to showcase your work to potential clients or employers. Nothing sells your skills more than a well-made portfolio.

What qualifications do I need?

Healthy food

Having a formal qualification in photography is not essential to finding work as a food photographer. Indeed, as long as you have a strong portfolio and proof of your ability, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to convince clients to hire you as a freelancer. However, in a more traditional employment setting – a job at a major publication for example – you will probably need to have some form of photography qualification.

Usually, this would mean a bachelor’s or master’s degree in photography or some other related subject. Equally, if you’re already trained in photography but want to learn the nuances of food photography, you can take a workshop or short course to really get you up to speed.

Who are the best known food photographers?

Let’s explore some of the best food photographers working today:

  • Nadine Greeff – Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, Nadine is a master of making mouth-watering food pop of the screen with her use of contrast and lighting.
  • Lou Manna – If you want to consult an expert on food close ups, look no further than Lou’s work.
  • Francesco Tolleni – A photographer and chef, Francesco is famous for his imaginative creations and stylist approach to shooting.

What do you think about becoming a food photographer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!