11 Business Questions to Ask Your Next Food Photography Client and How to Get Started in the Business of Food Photography

Business of Food Photography

Business of Food Photography is the toughest topic to handle. Most photographers don’t like to talk about this subject. But Andrew Scrivani is different. On the third day of this 3-day workshop Andrew openly shared a lot of great information about the business of food photography. In this post, we present the main lesson from Day 3.

11 Business Questions to Ask Your Next Food Photography Client

There are quite a few variables when dealing with food photo shoot. There is also different clientele in this business and all of that needs to be considered when thinking about business of food photography.

Figuring out how to turn this thing that you love into money is challenging and that’s why we need to discuss this in detail.

The purpose is that you want to give your client value and also make sure they know that you know what you are doing.

Question 1 – What is Your Budget?

This is the toughest question for both parties to answer. Most clients won’t answer this question because the first one who answers this can be at a disadvantage. This is like seeing who blinks first. So in most cases, you won’t get answer to this question. However, this is an important question to ask and you should ask and try to get an answer.

Beyond the idea of what can you spend, it is important to understand what do they want.

Question 2 – How do you want to use these images?

This is a key question. There are many ways you can use these images  and understanding that is important. You can use them on web as a banner ads or  in print or on billboards. Understanding this is important. The wider and wider the usage, the more value the images are for the client and then same for you.

Question 3 – How many days & Shots do you need with variations?

Here we are talking about time. Having day rates is fine, but also remember there is more work on front end and back end. How much time you will have to dedicate on the back end. Client also needs to know what they are getting for their money. So it is critical to educate the client on the process.

It is also about educating your client in a respectful way and you need to teach them what they are getting. Realizing how much time the shopping prepping etc takes and sharing that with client is important. IF you don’t, you won’t be able to bill correctly.

So if you don’t know how many shots do you want from me or how many variations, how will you be able to

Question 4 – Where are we shooting?

Do you have a studio, do I have a studio? Are we shooting at your restaurant. This is important question. Do I have to bring lights? Or renting a studio? You may not have access to day light. This is why it is important to ask this question. If you are shooting in your own studio, then transport etc will be lower versus otherwise charge for transportation.

Scouting the location is also important so that you can give an indication for your client and give them an idea why this is not a good place.

If you are shooting in your own studio, you can give them a budget based on bundle and make it a bundled deal. Give them both costs at location and in-studio audience.

Question 5 – Who is cooking?

It’s important to know this because this will help you teach how to prepare the food for camera. If the client is cooking the food, will they be able to plate it the way you would like, if not, will you need to food stylists? How much will that cost?

It is important to understand this to keep the integrity of the food photo. Will the cook take guidance from you.

Question 6 – Who is Styling the Food?

This is another important question. Is the person who is cooking, will s.he also be styling this? Who is prop styling who will style the food? If you are doing this, charge for it. Food Styling and Prop styling are two different skills. If you are doing both, charge for that. You can create a package deal with this.

Question 7 – Who is Propping?

Depending on who will be doing prop styling and table setting, the need for people on the food photo shoot may change. This will also drive the price of the photo shoot.

Question 8 – When do you need final pictures?

Asking this question is important because often, people think that it come out of the camera and come directly to final. Again, make the client understand the back end of this also takes time.

Consider how much lead time you have should also be considered. If you have flexibility, you can give flexibility in rates as well. If they want it fast, you can charge more to make this assignment higher priority.

Question 9 – What file format do you prefer?

There should be no guess work. Ask the question so that when you are processing, you don’t have reach back to them in the middle of processing.

Question 10 – How would you like your files delivered?

If you know how they want their file, confirm with them. If they don’t’ know, you can educate them about several options.

Question 11 – Who will pay for Food Cost?

Somebody is paying for food. This is also big part of the expense equation. Make sure your client and you are on same page on this.  Knowing who will do that upfront will be important.If you are working with ingredients that are easy to attain and working with them is easy, client is happy. This will also help you decide where to shop.

How to Get Started with Food Photography Business

“Small by lines lead to bigger by lines”

You have to start small.  There are small town newspapers every where and that’s how you can start small. That is important. You can find newspapers and magazines in your local area and become part of community. If you want to break-in and you have skills, you can start by contributing to your local media outlets.

Blogging is another avenue and you can use this tool to connect and share your work. It’s a big deal right now, there is huge audience. In our field lot of people read blogs and connect with blogs. You may not be able to make much money by contributing to a blog.

Websites are different. They are aimed at promoting a business, or selling something. If you can find a website and work for them, this could be your way in. You can show them the portfolio and find them and reach out to them.

The key to being a good business person is to build a clientele and making sure you have clients that hire you again and again. The visual consistency for business is important and so making them understand is really important.

Other avenues in your local area for food photography:

  • Farmer’s market – Do they have websites? Everyone there is a business. Do they need a food photo for there website?
  • Restaurants
  • Chefs
  • Food Trucks

There are many many opportunities and even locally you should be able to find some opportunities. Do research and identify what those opportunities are. If you do all this you should be able to make a decent living even if you only focus locally.

Another way to get in the business is to start assisting. You should also try to assist food photographers and stylists in your area. If they cannot pay you, you can intern and by just watching them work, you can learn a lot of things. You are watching the way light is set up and how and where equipment is set up.

You learn by being there on the photo shoot and understanding how things flow. If you admire their work, tell them that you admire their work and ask them the question and avail yourself to people. they know you are eager and you want to learn. This will make them think about you if and when they need help, if they don’t have availability immediately.

Unless you ask, you are not going to get it.

Remember, as an assistant, you are their to help food photographer. So do what you can to make their life easier and make them successful.

“The goal of food photo shoot is to make great pictures and if you are assisting, your goal should to be to make them successful”

How to Create a Portfolio

You should have a website but also think about your print portfolio. You don’t need multiple print portfolios though, like old days.

Look at other people’s stuff and see how they layout their website. Like what type of images and categories are used in these websites. Make is clean, make is elegant, make it fast and make it easy to use. FLASH website is no no.

You should show the range of what you can do. But also show only that you are confident in.

Also consider a website only for food photography and don’t mix fashion or portrait on the same website.

Read more: 9 Tips from Professional Food Photographers on How to Create Photography Portfolio

Other Notes from the Food Photography Workshop

There was a lot of valuable information shared in this workshop. It is a must for any food photographer who is serious about food photography.

LFP Insiders will be able to download workshops notes of all 3 days taken by Neel. If you would like to download these notes enter your details and we’ll send you an email once we are done compiling these notes.

Enter your email and Name below and become LFP Insider.

The full video course has a lot of details and can be downloaded for $99 from here. Price goes up after 9 am Pacific time on Jul 22nd.

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  • AtlantaTerry

    A nice article but you might want to fix the grammar typos.

    The problem I am having in the Atlanta market is to get local businesses to spend ANY money on food photography. Evidently, mom & pop businesses see little value in paying for professional food photography. Once they become bigger or are part of a franchise then suddenly they have money for an ad agency and Big Name food photographer. :(

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