Business of Commercial Food Photography

 

Lesson Info

Introduction to the Live Shoot

We're going to run through a few slides right at the beginning of this, just to kind of set the scene, and then I'm going to introduce you to the players and then we're going to talk about certain things. And I already have a curve ball have been thrown at me in this situation, and I will explain to you what that curve ball is and how we're going to work around it. If we've gotten to this point for the shoot. We've already had a client meeting, and initial greet, we've had a negotiation, so I already have an existing relationship with the client. We've already had meetings, we've already talked, we already have expectations, and that client is going to be on set, and my job is now to make sure she's happy, because based on the conversations we've already had. So we have a pre-existing relationship, we already know how to communicate to a certain degree, and that's an important part of the process. Then I've already scouted this spot. I already knew where my lighting was going to be. I ...

already knew where my tables were going to be. I wanted to make sure I had enough room to move. I knew that that ladder would support my weight without me crashing and dying. So all of the things as far of the technical aspects as far as getting particular space ready have been predetermined. Then I built my team. I hired my tech, I have my assistant, I have my food stylist, I have my prop stylist, but in this case the food stylists are dictated to me by the client because I'm working with her chefs. So that relationship is one that you're going to see, which I've explained several times in this whole presentation, is one of the more challenging of the ones that I have to deal with in my business, and the ones you're going to deal with in your business, because they are a separate entity outside of our business, and now they are integral into the production of our set, so how I deal with that situation is going to be hopefully a model, as long as one of them doesn't throw a knife at me, hopefully a model as far as how you can handle that curve ball that gets thrown at you when you have somebody who's not necessarily familiar with the ways we do business. Then we've had prep day, which means that all the food essentially has been you know mise en placed or prepared. In this case we don't have that ability but our food has been prepped ahead of time, but I will explain the curve ball to you shortly. Then we're going to have shoot day, which we're going to watch here, then we're going to have post production, then we're going to have delivery, which is all part of that ten question kind of thing. We've already determined how that's going to work, and I'll tell you, we've done our prep, we're going to do our shoot. Our post production has already been determined, my team is doing post production, and delivery system, the client has already told me they want cloud delivery system so they can download them and use them on their website. So we're already got all of our business out of the way. Now we start and we're here. We're not there, we're here. So I'm going to introduce you to the people on our team. Okay, so first and foremost, we have John, and John is my partner in this. He is going to be working camera so he is my camera tech. I'm going to call him my camera tech for this. Also known as an assistant sometimes, but when somebody has much more experience than you you never call them an assistant. Oh you can. So he is my camera tech. Lei is prop stylist for today. I think you might know her already. So Lei is our prop stylist. She's going to be at our prop table and whenever we have needs as far as that, and she's going to work with the food team, and then we have Nick who is our Digitech. He's gonna be working at the monitor, and he's basically going to be our interface with the clients, so if the client has any issues or has any questions they might pass that through Nick on to me. Normally she might be sitting right next to him, but since we have this wonderful double monitor set up. This actually resembles more what it might look like if you had a really big space in a studio, where that person is actually in a different room on a really fancy couch sipping tea. But you know. And then that person would be dealing with the producer, who then would relay the issues to me. So that relationship sometimes has to be buffered by our tech on a smaller shoot, and then sometimes it has to be buffered by our producer on a bigger shoot. So with that said, we also have our food team which are the chefs from Madre's Kitchen. So they're going to have to work with me and our team to kind of systematically make it work. So I'm going to tell you what the curve ball has been. So I came out on set and I noticed something. We've got a whole table full of props. Guess what, food's already plated. Now what? Now we've got to try to make it work, because this situation now is the one that I've explained to you on a number of occasions. Chefs like to plate their own food. And chefs are not food stylists in that they come into a shoot situation thinking I'm going to make the food the way I make it at the restaurant, and that's completely normal. Because that's the way they're thinking because this is not what they do. This is not what they do. This is what they do. So you have to be sensitive to that idea that now we have a work around we have to figure out. So my first instinct in this situation is communicate with chefs. So I went off set, which is what I would do, and I spoke to them. And I said, "Okay, here's the situation. "I didn't expect the food to be plated this way. "So what we're going to try to do "is we're going to try to make it work "the way the food is plated." Because I know now of course these plates and this set up is something that the client is probably comfortable with, and then I'm gonna flip it around and I've already carefully asked them that I would like to replate the food at one point because it might work better for what we're trying to do. And then I'll be able to give the client options, to be able to say, "I like it better in our plating," or "I like it better with your plating." And that way everybody gets what they need. So I've also determined that certain shots will be, including our first shot will be overhead. So we've mounted the camera on a cross arm, this is a really good work around for most of us who don't have either the space or the resources to have a camera stand. So if you have a camera stand that's on wheels and a big booming cross arm with your head mounted on the end of it. For food photographers who have their own studio, that's sort of an essential piece of equipment. But I also have this in my studio, because when I have to go to a restaurant like this, this is exactly what I use. It's actually not a super expensive piece of equipment. This cross arm is maybe I think a little over 100 bucks and you can attach your head to it that you already have for your tripods. So if you own a tripod already invest in one of these, and what John has done is he's put a counter weight on here for me and he's sandbagged it, so this thing isn't going anywhere if I don't want it to move. That's essentially what again, a good assistant on set is going to anticipate the problems that can happen. The other thing about setting up a tripod like this is you always should have your front leg out under the camera. The weight so that if I push it, it's not going anywhere. But if this was the other way around and this wasn't sandbagged properly, and you have all that weight out on the end, I push it, it's going to tip right over, and we have disaster on your hands.

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.