Business of Commercial Food Photography


Lesson Info

Treatments and Final Wrap-Up

Now I wanna talk a little bit about treatments. I'm gonna spend a little time here because this was borne out of yesterday's. So I wanna go over the cover page, this was a treatment I did for a big food chain, which has been blurred out. Can't see it, you might be able to figure it out, but it's blurred out. This is a cover page, now I do what's called full bleed treatments. And I also use my own photography. As a photographer, you would use your own photography, but as a director, that's very unusual. This is actually a directorial treatment, but they go hand in hand in how you apply the work. So this would have been the client thing on the cover page, a treatment by me, this is my production company that I work for, and this would have been the advertising company, and that's also blurred out. So this would be your opening page for this, so if you're preparing a treatment for a particular client, this is what that kind of cover page would look like, and that's what would be industry ...

standard, so if that arrives at the desk of an art director, they would know exactly that you know what you're doing. 'Cause the first time I ever did one, it was an absolute horror show, and showed that I wasn't ready for it. You wanna put really strong arresting images that fit into the creative that they're talking about. This happened to be about biscuits. So I pulled imagery from my archive that was biscuity, biscuit adjacent. (audience laughing) You will never hear another human being put those two words together, so relish in it. Biscuit adjacent. Now we're gonna walk through the creative and this text here, which is blurred out so that you don't know who I'm talking about, will go to reflect different aspects of the creative call that you discussed with the team. So you've been asked to do a job, and bid on a job. You've been asked to bid on a job. So they ask you to take a creative call, so that might be in person or it might be a conference call, where there's a whole bunch of people there and we're all talking about what's the vision for this particular project and this particular client? Great. You have your team on the phone, they have their team on the phone, people are taking notes, people are recording the phone call. Trust me, it's intense. So after the call is over, I get a transcript of the call from somebody in my production company with things highlighted or bolded. Words, key words, things that kept coming up in the conversation that they want me to respond to in my treatment. So that means that I'm gonna talk about very specific things and use language that reflects what they were saying to me. So I'm feeding them back what they fed to me, which shows two things. Subliminally for them, they're hearing their own voice, and secondly, they know I was paying attention. So that's really important in this. And then if you're not a good writer, somebody around you will help you, speak in a language that is appropriate for advertising on this level. And how you wanna be concise, and speak to certain things, and use certain terminology that is apparently, advertising speak. They wanna hear certain things. So I'll give you a terminology that I never heard before until I sat in a boardroom with a bunch of advertising executives, and it was taste appeal. And it comes up over and over and over again, and it doesn't mean anything. But it's a buzz word. And you gotta import that into your dialogue when you're talking about these things. You hear these buzz words, those things you never normally hear in conversation that are specific to this project or specific to advertising in general, and you'll pick those up and you'll import them into your treatment so that they know you know exactly what we're talking about. And you wanna consistently put imagery that maybe not only shows, see now, these are biscuit adjacent, but here I might be talking about lighting. I might not be talking about, so every section of this would be reacting to a portion of the creative call. In a creative call, you might talk about the propping, the lighting, every element is itemized in that discussion. Where the camera's gonna be. So obviously I've shown three images so far and they've all been from the same angle. 'Cause they basically made it clear that this is the angle we wanna shoot from, 'cause I've already looked at a comp page. So I find imagery that fits the comp page, but one of them is about texture, one of them is about lighting, one of them is about propping, and I write dialogue to support that. And when you build these treatments and you'll see there's resources online if you put it in and say photographer's treatment, you'll get a model for it, like a five-page model and you probably can do it in InDesign or you can do it in one of those programs, where you're able to import text into photographs. And then you print them out, and you email the PDF, and everybody has a copy of it, and they're flipping through it, and they're reading it, and they're looking at it, and they're saying whether or not they think you are the person for the job. These are so important and they're so hard to do, but they are essential to understand as part of the process because the first time you get asked to do one, like me, you didn't know what the heck they were, you're at a huge disadvantage and I put myself in a hole with a particular advertising agency and somebody who loved my work, but clearly saw me as only an editorial photographer after that. And we're talking three years ago. And now I'm crawling back, back to where I was. But those are the lessons you learn. I had a wealth of things in my portfolio, I was a well-known photographer in the editorial world, but it didn't cross over because I didn't understand certain things about the industry. So now that I'm at that point, and I understand how to do these things, I'm able to share them so that you don't make the same mistakes. One of the students wanted to know how do you deliver the treatment? You'd make a PDF and you would send it off to all the creatives and all the people and they would make copies and share them with their team, and they would look at them in hard copy. They wouldn't just look at them online. They actually print them out. Great, and generally, about how many pages is a treatment? Three to five, five to seven, depending on how big the project is. Some of the motion ones have a tendency to be a little bit longer because there's a lot more pieces to the puzzle, but I would say most of mine are probably no more than five pages long. And can you remind us generally when in the process you deliver the treatment? What has happened at this point? You're in the bidding process at that point. You're bidding for the job financially, and you're bidding for the job creatively. So until those things come together for agency and client, they can't make a decision as to who is gonna get the job. So let's say they loved my creative, they wanted to hire me, but my prices was so high that they couldn't, then they might go with someone else. So it's about the combination of being able to offer them both creative that they're comfortable with at prices that they can work with. So it's both of those things, and that is clearly gonna be part of the equation that your agency or your production company or your support system around you will help you with. And at this point, you've already asked the 10 questions. Yeah, that's definitely something that, in this scenario, the agency would be doing that. I wouldn't be directly dealing with negotiations and a client with something like this. This is definitely high-level stuff. And final question on this, if you didn't already have what's the term? Biscuit adjacent. Biscuit adjacent, you didn't have the biscuit adjacent, if you didn't have those images, would you sort of do 'em on spec and sort of like shoot some stuff for the client? You could, you could do that, or it's not unheard of to pull images from other people in a treatment. Particularly a director's treatment. A director's treatment is very rarely the director's own photography 'cause not every director is a photographer. So they would pull pictures from the internet or from other sources to show what their vision is of the piece. So I have done only like maybe one or two treatments where my work wasn't appropriate, and they were directorial treatments, and I would pull imagery from stock agencies or other things like that. So you sometimes have to run into some expenses when you do that, because you have to pay for imagery, 'cause you don't wanna just steal people's pictures to put in your treatment, (laughing) that's not cool. If you really feel like you wanna educate yourself more about treatments, there's some resources out there and just the general sense of the way it looks and this is just one option, there're other ways to do it, but this is the way I do it. And it's been relatively effective in getting people to understand what I do. Yeah. When you present a treatment, do you have the opportunity to be there and talk about this or is this just something that you send to them and expect that the way that you have written and presented the images that that's it? Yeah, it's pretty much it. You are representing yourself at that stage, and then from here, they make a decision. So you've basically represented yourself in the creative meeting, and then this is a boiled-down version of what you said in the creative meeting, and then they make a decision as to whether they hire you. It's very rare that you get to go back and walk them through the treatment. That's usually not the case. Okay, well you know what time it is now folks, it's cocktail time. So we all come to the end here. We have reached the end of our two days and what I'm hoping is that I've provided you with enough ammunition to go out and arm yourselves with the knowledge to help you grow your business as a commercial food photographer, where you have a better sense of how to price yourself, a more confidence in the way you can negotiate, how to build your team, how to speak and operate on set, and all the things that we've talked about as well as pulling all your resources together, whether that be continuing education or just being able to navigate the rest of the food visual world, in a way that helps you maintain success where you are and grow beyond here. I'm really happy that I could have been here and have my buddy Jim here help me along and hopefully we brought you everything that we promised. How do we find you? You can find me at my name. If you can spell it, pretty much everywhere. So like I was pretty secure in the fact that no one else had it, and I use my full name in pretty much everything, including my website and my email, so if you can spell my name, you can find me, and I would love to see you on social media and there we are. So share your information with me as well, let me know you watched if you're online, and I would love to see what you're up to.

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.  



  • 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.