Skip to main content

The Importance of Attitude and Communication

Lesson 7 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

The Importance of Attitude and Communication

Lesson 7 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

7. The Importance of Attitude and Communication


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

The Importance of Attitude and Communication

Know your ABCs. What are your ABCs? Anybody? What do you think the first one is? Anyone, anyone, Bueller? (laughter) Attitude, right? Why is this matter? Well, the diva photographer is dead, my friends. You are now a businessman or businesswoman and you are standing in a room full of people that are all relying on you and you need to be the grown up. So, your attitude in these situations from the time you send an e-mail, to pick up the phone, to being on a negotiation, around a table with a bunch of creatives at an agency, everything about you and your attitude matters. And that attitude needs to be always upbeat and positive. You don't need to be the life of the party. You need to be a positive force. You need to be somebody that they're looking at and they're feeling confident that they hired the right person. They hired the right girl, they hired the right guy to get in there and do this work and they know that they're in good hands. That is your job, because if you come off with an...

attitude that you're about you, or you're not focused on the process, or you're not focused on the project or the mission, you are not going to work with those people again. That is absolutely true. Body language. This is as important as attitude. Because sometimes you know how to keep your attitude in check, but you don't understand that the way you carry yourself says volumes and everyone's watching you. Everyone on set is watching you, all your assistants are watching you, the creatives are watching you, everybody's looking at you to see how you're behaving. And if you're slumpin' and you're not making eye contact and you're upset, or you're waving your hands around, or you're pulling people aside and whispering in their ear, all of those things are being watched. And it's not just being watched by the people above you who hired you. They're being watched by your staff and your crew. And if you are not stable in all of those situations, that falls apart because your crew needs to look to you as the captain of the ship. And if the captain is, you know, moody and grumpy and not paying attention and all of that, that is going to filter down and your shoot is going to fall apart. And you are not going to get hired again. So, your attitude and your body language are absolutely essential when you are carrying yourself as a business person. And thirdly, maybe the most important, is communication. You need to constantly communicate your needs, the needs of the client, and everything else to everyone around you. You leave nothing to chance. Because if you, for one second think that someone is going to do the thinking for you, you're wrong. You need to think about it, you need to communicate it, and you need to be personable in that whole thing. So all three of these things combined together. How you bring yourself into the room, how you talk to people and what you're saying to them is all absolutely essential. You need to micromanage your set, not to the point where you're being that kind of boss or that kind of person that is telling each person every little piece of their job. That's not what I mean. What I mean is, you need to be aware of everybody and their job. And if you notice something that is not what you want, pull that person aside, you discuss it, you get back on track, you need to communicate. And when you're communicating with clients, from the time you send that first e-mail when they reach out to you and say, "Hey, we'd love you to do this job." Every way you communicate with those people needs to be respectful, thoughtful. Pleases and thank yous, hello, good morning, all of it. You know? Don't write in all caps. Do not write in all lowercase. I'm telling you, when I get an e-mail from somebody that is clearly no thought put into it, their level of communication was (tapping) send. Didn't read it, errors in the text, it drives me insane. And that's not just because I was a teacher. That's part of it. But, use punctuation. Say good morning. Say thank you. Sign your name at the end of it. It's, these seem like common sense things, but I can't tell you how many e-mails I get that look like somebody just thought something and it appeared on the screen and then they sent it to me that way. Or, I just want you to know that that communication coming from whomever I'm talking to means they care about that communication. Nothing says that better than hitting spellcheck before you press send. You have to be thoughtful about how you communicate. So, this, I can go on and on and on about all the different ways you need to be communicative. Eye contact, you know, letting people know what it is they're going to be doing on a set and when we put it together, our shoot, that we talk about during this course, you will see how I communicate with my crew on a set. And it's, it ends up sounding almost formal sometimes. Because I want everyone around to hear me give instructions in a certain way, so that that assistant who's a PA now, knows when they have a set, this is the way people like to be talked to. I don't yell, I don't raise my voice, I don't have attitude, I communicate and I'm a grown up. And that's what you need to be as the person who's in charge. So, that's essential. Great question here, you use the word, when you use the word old, it triggered a question. "How do we know what type of image look is current?" Are there places that you go to find, like, what's looking forward and what people are looking for as far as like, you know, I've already seen that? I think the magazines. I mean, because if you look in food magazines, you're gonna see two different types of photography. You're gonna look at the editorial photography they're producing, actually three. Editorial photography they're producing, branded content that they're producing and the advertising that's already existing in there. So, you have three different styles of photography in one thing, so if I'm looking at Eating Well or I'm looking at Gourmet, not Gourmet. Sorry, rest in peace. Saveur, you know, you're looking at all the food magazines and then I would say look at advertising as well. Like, print advertising as well as motion advertising to see where the trends are going because again, there's a lot of cross pollination when it comes to what's happening in motion and what's happening in still. So those things, being educated about that and this is actually something I was gonna tap into later when we, in another part of the presentation about resources and research and that's exactly answers that question because you need to be constantly looking at what's current. So it's, you don't want to go back and look at your Food and Wines from three years ago. You want to look at the one that was published last month. Great, awesome, that's a great answer. So, one of our students would like to know, "In your opinion, what's the best way to pick and choose "to show what is in one's portfolio? "Let's say you have a lot of really strong work "that spans a lot of different areas, "so it's hard to find that strength "or voice that you mentioned earlier." And I'm just going to make a comment. When I'm on Instagram, and I see your photos, I know it's you. Well, my name above it is usually the dead giveaway. That helps. (crowd laughs) But yeah, thank you. I think, and it's gonna be a very trite answer, but I don't mean it that way. How many likes did you get on the picture? It's really simple. If people, if it respond, people respond to the picture. Clearly, you're doing something right. Particularly, if it's not a personal picture. Because that's where those dynamics get really skewed when you post a selfie and everybody's like, "You're so beautiful." You know, that doesn't ever happen to me. But you know what I mean is that if you're posting your work and you're consistently looking at your Instagram feed as a living portfolio, how people are responding to the pictures matters. And that really is an indicator as to what you're doing well. So, I don't mean it as a trite answer, but look at the likes. It's really, actually pretty telling sometimes. And I go back all the time. And I look through mine. And I see the stuff that doesn't resonate with people, and I take it out. That's the other thing I think people forget about with Instagram is that, you can go back and take the stuff out that you don't like. And you should do that. You should curate it all the time and look at it and say, "Okay, nobody liked this picture." And you like it, but it's like, well, if it didn't resonate with the audience, take it down and go back and continue. My Instagram lives somewhere around a thousand posts. And it seems like it never grows, because you know what? For every two I put up, I take one down. And I go back and I constantly edit it to a certain point because I know people aren't gonna go that deep. But every once in a while, I get surprised and somebody went all the way to the beginning and I'm like, "Wow, that's crazy." That must've taken some time to go all the way to the back. But, it's true. I look at it and I think it's important. And once you're at a critical mass of followers, you can kind of gauge what is a good picture and what's not. Right, so I know that if I get anywhere near between 400 and 1,000 likes on a photo, that's a pretty successful photo. If I don't make 400 likes on a photo, I'm thinkin' that doesn't resonate with people. So, I mean, and that's my following. So, like you can look at that percentage wise and see what that means to you, you know? Great, and a question from Julia. "Do you use hashtags on your Instagram images?" Sometimes, but very few. I don't hashtag the death out of things. I usually use one or two that are consistent so that when I go back and look at that hashtag, I see all the images I posted in that one. But I don't do the snarky hashtags. Because for work it doesn't really pay to do that. Great, and this is a question from Marselle. Wanted to know if you have three ideas, how to get, find clients in a new city, so you've just, from a marketing. Is Marselle writing an article? I don't think so. (class laughs) It sounded like one of those listicles I'm always asked to do. Give me five best ways to eat bacon in bed. There's no bad way to eat bacon in bed, so. So, from a marketing perspective. The best way to go about looking for work in a new city? Yeah. Well, I think you need to be aware of the market you're in and if depending on your portfolio already, like, how famous are you as a photographer? I mean, if you're a complete novice, well, you should start at the beginning and go to your local paper and look at the local restaurants and be aware of the environment you're in. I think that's clear. If you are more successful photographer who's moving to a new city, then clearly, looking maybe for a local representation or going to a bigger paper, or whatever. But I think, clearly local photography when you start thinking as usually people at the beginning of their careers. And being aware of the market you're in and going out to food vendors. Like, let's say there's a farmer's market in your town. You go there, you start working with local purveyors and different and you know, all of those people need photography, too. It's not just restaurants, it's the guy who's making candy, it's the guy who's growing strawberries, whatever it might be and if you feel that that fit into your portfolio, then you should approach those people. So, I don't know if I got to three there, Jim, but. No, that's pretty good. All right, great. And this is a question from GBF Chambers wanting to know, "Is there any Andrew Scrivani magic, or science or art "to getting more followers?" No, cause I clearly don't know how to do do that. I just, you know what I mean? I think, I'm bewildered by the nature of gathering a following. Now, I know there services out there where you can pay to have followers and blah blah blah blah blah, and that's just, that's kinda silly. Because marketers understand that that's not real anymore. I feel like my following is, it's a strong following. It's a grassroots following and it is a very consistently food forward following. Which means that if I were to start to use my Instagram to monetize and do branded content, the 25,000 people who follow me are mostly people who are into food. So, there's clearly a targeted market there. Where, I mean, I could start posting more selfies but I don't know if that's gonna help. If you were out there doing a portfolio, what do you recommend for size? Five to 10 to 20 images and you're gonna potentially send it out to an art director? Probably, I would do no more than 20 or 30. I think that's your butter zone. Great. Yeah.

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!

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.

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.

Student Work