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Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market

Lesson 3 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market

Lesson 3 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

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Lesson Info

3. Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market


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

Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market

What are your strengths? I kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, is that you need to identify the things you do well. I'm gonna talk about portfolio or social media, for example. If I look at your Instagram feed, am I gonna know what you're good at? Ask yourself that question. Because if I can't, if I look at your Instagram feed and I don't know what you're good at, clients aren't gonna know what you're good at. If they see a landscape, a picture of your dog, three food pictures, a picture of the Christmas tree, travel pictures, you have to treat those things, and I will go in depth about this later, you need to treat everything you present yourself as an artist with with a consistency. If you really, really feel strongly that you wanna exist in two or three different venues, have two or three different portfolios, under different accounts, because I want to hire you as a food photographer. I wanna see what you do best. If it's lifestyle, fill that thing up with lifestyle. If i...

t's tabletop, fill it up with tabletop, because if you don't, you're going to find that people are confused. This is age-old in our business, in that, if I present a portfolio to an editor, especially at a newspaper, which was my experience, I make it harder by that newspaper if my portfolio's all over the place 'cause they, "Oh good. This guy, "we can just send him out to do anything," but then you will never graduate from that. You will always be that guy, or that girl, who goes out and does whatever. What happened to me was after a few assignments, I realized that I was good at one thing. I was good at this right here, in this little space, and that was my space, and I owned it, and I got really good at it, and then I started getting further away from the table, and then I started getting into the bigger scene. It's the other way around in food photography, or any photography. You start macro and work out because if you start out here, nobody's gonna know what you do. You gotta be honest about what you're good at. If you're not sure about what you're good at, consult your friends; consult the other artists; consult your Facebook friends, "What do you feel I do best?" I've had many friends in the business who have had to completely flip their portfolio because they were blind to the fact that what they did best, so I had a great friend who was a portrait photographer, he was super proficient and really technical, but it didn't have that life, but his lifestyle work and his reportage work was amazing. It took kicking and screaming and throwing him on the ground and shaking him, "This is your best work; promote that work," and then, all of a sudden, it started to unfold for him. It's very clear, you have to be able to know what your strengths and weaknesses are in the business and what you wanna do. Sometimes those things don't match up. Sometimes what you really wanna do and what you do the best are different, and that's when you get into that, you're cross-wired, and you can overcome that, but you also have to understand why is the client hiring you? Why do you want them to hire you? You want them to hire you for your art and what you do well. I'll talk about this a little bit later, you also don't want them to just hire you 'cause you're the cheapest person out there. That, unfortunately, is a motivating factor for a lot of clients. I want you to be able to come away from this with a confidence to know, "I do this really well, and I'm gonna, "promote this thing that I do very well consistently." Here comes the reality check. All of that stuff said, you need to basically be able to be realistic about what you can do at this particular phase in your career. A lot of people overshoot the mark. As soon as they feel like it'd make the picture, they're throwing themselves out there into the open market. When you're a good artist in a small market, and all of a sudden you think you can throw yourself into the global market or the national market, you're gonna get overwhelmed, and you're gonna make a mistake in the things that you think you know, but you don't know yet because you haven't experienced it, you haven't learned it, you haven't put it into practice. Depending on what we're talking about here, are we talking about advertising? What is advertising? We're gonna go over that. Are we talking about editorial? Are we talking about publishing? Are we talking about social media or branded content? All of these things are different in our industry. All of them have different price tags. All of them have different expectations. All of them have different legal protection. If you have this sense that I wanna be in this particular venue, I wanna be in editorial food photographer because I get more creative freedom, and I really like the way this operates, or I wanna be in advertising, okay, fine. All of that is a continuum as well, so you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish. I've seen this happen; I've seen somebody who had great skill and lacked experience and got in over their head with a really big client and got embarrassed. It set her back. It set her back in her career because then all of a sudden her confidence was shot because she realized just how much she didn't know. She lost that client, and it's taken time to build that back up because then, of course, reputation follows you too, especially if you have one bad job with one big client. I've experienced it as well. I've had that experience as well, where you get in a little over your head, and you make a mistake, and then, or something happens, and maybe not even a fault of your own, but it was something you couldn't foresee, and you end up losing the job. That, you wanna go out against. That's where all the things we're gonna talk about throughout this whole time is gonna be a lot of over layers, a lot of overlapping, to teach you that all of these things are intertwined. The more we talk, the better.

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