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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Get Work As A Food Photographer


Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market


How To Grow Your Business


Opportunities In Commercial Food Photography


How Do You Market Yourself


The Importance of Attitude and Communication


Understanding Insurance Responsibilities and Liability


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

Hello everyone, as you know this is a business class but guess what I'm not wearing? A tie or a jacket. Because when you get to be a professional in our industry you get to wear what you want. (Audience laughs) So that is definitely one of the best perks of being in a creative industry and being able to be your own boss. You get to kind of be your own person. So we're gonna go over an awful lot of things over the next couple of days and I feel like this is such an energetic crowd and I've already spoken to some of you and gotten some very good feedback as to what you expect from this course. And I think ultimately what we really wanna do is, the object of this class is to give you a skill set to help you operate as a professional in our industry. And one of the things that, and this is sort of a standard line that I've given on a number of occasions, is that when it comes to the things like pricing yourself as a professional everybody would love an index card to put up over their desk ...

so that every time they get the phone call and somebody asks them, hey, what does this cost? You can just say, oh, it's gonna cost that. But you're gonna learn over the next couple of days that question is very complicated and that you will now have the skills after this class to be able to answer that question in a way that protects you, that gives you the best opportunity to make money, that gives you the best opportunity to protect yourself from liability, all the things that as a business person you need to understand and know to operate well. In any industry but particularly this industry. The things that are very specific to what we're gonna do. And the person who is gonna gain the most from this class is the person who has kind of gotten to the point with their creative aspect of food photography. You already can make the picture. I'm gonna assume that everybody in the audience here can already make the picture. Now what do I do with that picture? What's the next step to that? And I think that's why we are taking this jump here at Creative Live as a continuum of the courses I've already taught, is that we've gone over a lot of the things that, in the creative aspect, and teaching people what my process was, and what other photographers do. But now we really need to figure out how to put that in to play in the marketplace. So if you are that person than obviously you're in the right place for the next few days. So by the end of this course what we really wanna be doing is you wanna figure out how you can market your work. You wanna be able to negotiate contracts with clients, you wanna be able to have a firm grasp on all of the ancillary pieces that are part of what we do as business people in this industry. So one of the things I wanna do, and you'll find that I'll do throughout the next few days is tell anecdotes about people I've experienced in the industry and what happens when they don't do things the way it should be done. One of the major holes in any business is when you forget something, right? You forget to calculate something, or you miss something and it ends up costing you money. So I'm gonna use this picture as a sort of a template for all the things that could go wrong and why making this picture was a challenge for me and had kind of called on all of the different pieces of experience I've had in making food photography. Because this photo is the photo that ran the largest physical photo that ever ran in the New York Times. It ran this big. It was called a pano eight and it folds in four times and becomes like regular newsprint and then it opens up. So some of you might have seen it with the Thanksgiving coverage but you don't get a sense of the size of it here. But reality is it was almost as big as it is right here. This was the size of the picture, for the most part. And when making this picture there were about 500 things I could've done wrong to lose money on this picture. By the sum of experience I was able to do it and it was still not perfect. There was still things that I could've done better the next time, so it's always a learning process. And that's another thing I want you to recognize is that I'm standing up here and for today I'm the expert. But I'm still learning everything, there's always something new. I plugged something in to this presentation less than 24 hours ago about something I learned. That was very important to how I do business. Because now as we graduate to different levels the rules change all the time. So this picture, and I'm gonna tell you one silly little piece of it. When you shoot a picture this wide you get lens aberration, right? From a creative perspective it starts to bend. So this stuff on the edge is concave. I propped it up like this to compensate for the lens aberration. And it was something like it's not super technical, it's a piece of paper, it's a little piece of wood, it's whatever but it's creating this image where I'm battling against this tremendous amount of lens aberration. So you can correct some of it in post but if I had sent that picture in and it ran this big and it looked like this, like it was shot with a fish eyed lens, that's a fail, can't do that. The other problem I ran in to with this was the file size. I shot it with a 35 millimeter and I shot it with my Canon 5D and I was like, after the fact I'm like, I'm never gonna make that mistake again. I'm gonna go for the biggest file humanly possible. Now I could've shot that with a medium format camera but the problem is the shape of the frame wasn't gonna fit and I would've had to crop in to it so much that I would've ended up the same amount of megapixels. So all of these things, all calculating, calculating, calculating and how to make this picture work. So just an example, and obviously a point of pride to have something that unique published in the world. But it was definitely, and forget about all the fact of getting all the food ready at the same time. (Audience laughs) Again, all of that, part of the equation. So let's move on. We're gonna go over quite a few things in our chapters. We're gonna talk about getting work and what that means. We're obviously gonna get into the meat and potatoes of business, so it's a lot of that sort of, taxes and 1099s and all the things that you either should know as a freelancer or small business so that you can operate on both ends of that spectrum. We're gonna talk about negotiating, what that means. We're gonna talk about client management, especially managing expectations of your clients and what that really means in the real world. Assembling your team, and that team could be just a partner or that team could be a room full of people and all of the permutations in between. Commercial, we're gonna do a shoot here. We're actually gonna recreate a commercial shoot where we have many of the players that you would have in a large commercial shoot. So this shoot is going to be with a restaurant client which is something that you, probably a lot of you are familiar with and that's sort of, a lot of times, the entry point to a lot of food photography is getting involved with restaurant clients. They're also one of the most challenging clients for a lot of reasons and we'll go over those as well. We're gonna talk about pricing. And notice I put that at the end of the presentation, not in the beginning. Because I understand that pricing your work is not the first thing that happens in the negotiation. It shouldn't be. So when somebody asks you, what's your rate? Well, walk them through all the other lessons first and then give them a price, and that's why it's there. At the very end we're gonna talk about what's the next step for all of us, why are we always continuing trying to work through our process, both creatively but also as a business person. Because, again, that's an evolving process that we have to go through constantly. You're constantly evolving, the industry's constantly evolving, particularly now. We're talking about things that didn't exist when I first did the first course here. When I plugged in a two segment discussion about the business of food photography. Certain things didn't exist then and it's challenging for artists at any level, and I'm seeing it from entry level to people who've been working in the business for 20 years, everybody's struggling with the changes that are happening and how fast they're happening. So if you feel anxious about it, you're not alone. We are all anxious about the changes that are happening and we have to navigate them in a way that allows us to continue to grow as artists and make money. Because there's lots of money out there to be made, it's just the way we go about making it might be a little bit different now. So on we go. Andy Warhol said that, and the pop art movement was a very interesting kind of shift in dynamic in the idea of selling out. And we've heard this a lot as artists throughout time, was that making money with your art is somewhat, cheapens it. Well if you want to continue to make art you need to sell it because unless you have unlimited funds or you have a benefactor, I don't think the de Midicis are doing much these days. So you need to basically be a good business person. And being a good business person and a good artist is profitable if you understand how to work that. So, you know, since I've been doing this, I've been teaching, and my background was as a teacher. So some of you know that, some of you may not have known that, I spent 15 years in a classroom and as a coach in athletics and one of the things that are points of pride for people who have done that work is to see what their students have become. And since I've been teaching adults there are several people who have been in my life now as students who have become professionals and are working now. One of them is sitting in the front row here and she was here, I don't think I can do a workshop anymore without her sitting in the front row. She's become my security blanket. But Lei was here for our first course in food photography, what, almost four years ago now, yeah? As a complete novice and is now working professionally in the industry making, having to make these choices now. Having to make these decisions. So she's not alone, there are others out there, people who I've only met online or people I've met in workshops but clearly learning is, not learning but me teaching you these things is important to me as well. Because I feel like the industry has to be a community. And when you're part of that and you're willing to contribute to it everybody grows. The coaching tree, as we say in sports, right? So my coaching tree is getting a little deeper and deeper, the roots are getting deeper and deeper and that makes me very happy.

Ratings and Reviews


I highly recommend this course! Andrew is an engaging and thoroughly knowledgable teacher. This class is less about how to photograph food - although there are some terrific tips - and more about the "nuts and bolts" or rather, "bread and butter" of running a successful business. A lot of the information is relevant to business in general, but the specific tips about food photography are especially exciting to implement! I found the hands-on portion during the morning of day 2 especially helpful in assimilating the general or more abstract ideas covered in day 1, which laid a fantastic foundation. 5 stars!

Amy Vaughn

While I'm not quite ready to focus my business on food photography, this class gave me a much clearer idea of what options and challenges there are in the food photography industry. Andrew covered everything from what jobs might be like when starting out on a tight budget to what options open up as the photographer becomes more experienced and successful. I already did my own internet research about the food photography business before the class, but this was more comprehensive and easy to understand in a short amount of time. Now I feel more confident about setting my business goals, who to look for to collaborate with on projects and eventually the kinds of clients I'd like to work with. He also gave many tips that are immediately applicable in my current photography business that isn't yet focused on food.

Delaney Brown

Andrew is not only a funny, incredibly entertaining person, he's a seriously great teacher. Being in the live studio audience for this class was such a treat. I was able to learn a lot of the nitty gritty lived-in details of what it takes to be a successful food photographer. Things that are hard to come by in books and online! I would highly recommend this class for anyone who wants to take their passion to the next step: making a living.

Student Work