Business of Commercial Food Photography

 

Lesson Info

How to Anticipate Expenses

Expenses are expensive, and we just talked about this, right, is creating a database for yourself of your local, maybe bigger region, national, to understand what the rates of stylists are, food costs, studio costs, prop fees, rentals, trucking, delivery, storage, all of those things. They differ from market to market, they differ from the size of the job you might have, so you need to keep a database of your own that is something that's helpful and that you can call upon when you need it, so that you can accurately talk about these things with clients, and you know where to plug them in. But you have to do your homework and you have to figure out what all these things cost, because until you have a production company or a rep behind you doing all this legwork, you need to do it. And, when you eventually get representation or a production company behind you, you know what stuff costs, so when you're looking at a bid and you see something that's not right, you might be able to say, "you...

know what, I think I can do better on that studio", and you can help out the production a little bit in that regard because you're knowledgeable. You're not just relying on everyone else. Nothing is better than absolutely knowing what other people who are responsible for you, in a way, what they do, and it's not about micromanaging everybody, it's just like being aware, being aware of what everyone on your set is doing, be aware of everyone on your team is doing, and where they're doing it. You can get burned really badly on photo shoots if you don't account for expenses, especially when we talk about that client expectation situation, and managing that. Because if you don't discuss beforehand how many set ups they want to do, how many table tops they want to see, how much consistency they want to see from picture to picture, how many props you might need, you know, you start looking at the amount of dishes, and this is one of those big things that happens in photo shoots is, I'll go back to the hundred recipe, cookbook. Okay, forget about food costs, cause that's astronomical. Forget about human costs, stylist, propers, forget about studio space, props, just props, the budget for something with a hundred dishes is astronomical, cause prop rental is so expensive. And you probably don't own enough propping to prop out a hundred recipe job. I'm not quite sure I have enough propping, and if you've seen what my studio looks like, that would surprise you for me to say that. But a hundred recipes that have a consistency to them is an inordinate amount of propping, and it's so expensive, and that's usually the firs thing I hit back with is, "alright you've got your own cooks, great, you understand that your food cost is going to be extraordinary, great, do you have any idea what your propping is going to cost you?" You're not gonna plate everything on the white plates from the restaurant, it's just not gonna happen, you're not gonna do a hundred recipes like that. And that's when it starts to dawn on people that the expenses that they're incurring by growing the production is exponential. Everything ends up being doubled and tripled and quadrupled every day you add to the job. So that's where you need to know how many recipes a day you can execute. So like today, when we were in our studio, the fact that I didn't have a camera stand limited the amount of shots I could've got in a day. Because if I had to reset that cross arm, tripod thing, 50 times a day, there's no way I'm gonna get through, I would absolutely have to cut hours and hours off my day that normally I step on the pedal, push the thing to the place, twist it, bring it down, done. I have all this movement on this camera stand that takes seconds, where with that setup took minutes. And if you push that out over the course of an entire day, not only is it frustrating and physically exhausting, but it's cutting my day down, and those are expenses. So, you say to your client, "I need a camera stand for this job, it's gonna cost this much to rent, but, what it's gonna do is it's gonna allow me to get you one extra recipe a day, which is gonna save you money", so it's an investment on the front end to protect yourself on the back end, and if you're able to discuss that when you're talking about expenses in your pricing, you are that far ahead of the game, because you're understanding and solving the problem at the same time. And that's what your client needs from you. They need you to solve their problems, cause their problems are real simple. I need this, I have this much money. You're all the stuff in the middle. And how to fit what you need, and convince them that maybe they don't need that much, or convince them they need to spend more money. One or the other. But those two things need to be on you to figure out what you do inside those goal posts. And if you can have enough language and enough knowledge to talk about those things to your client, you will consistently have better clients, more and more work, more and more money, and then growing in the industry, because you're able to consistently solve problems. Because that's not the norm. To be a terrific problem solver is a rarity in any industry and if you can learn to be that problem solver because you're knowledgeable and you're communicative, and all of those things, than you're gonna consistently get work in our business, because you'll be that problem solving person.

Being confident in your photography is only the start of growing your success as a food photographer. Knowing how to pitch yourself to clients, communicate with vendors, and set yourself apart from a populated market are just some of the business techniques that are essential in seeing you profit from your work. Andrew Scrivani joins CreativeLive to help you take your photography and business to a place where you can start making it a successful career. He’ll cover: 

  • How to get work in the Food Photography Industry 
  • How to promote and network yourself to grow your client list 
  • Techniques on communicating with your vendors and clients on set and off 
Make your photography work for you and make money while shooting what you love.  

 
 
 
 

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!
  • 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.
  • 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.