Skip to main content

Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 1 of 21

Introduction To Class


Getting Started in Professional Food Photography

Lesson 1 of 21

Introduction To Class


Lesson Info

Introduction To Class

(crowd clapping) Thank you for having me and welcome to my studio and welcome internet. We are gonna be discussing some very basic techniques in food photography and kind of elevating you up to a point where you're gonna feel comfortable kind of pushing your style and just kind of making your mark on the industry. So welcome everybody and thank you for having me. This class is called Getting Started in Professional Food Photography and there's a lot of food photographers out there, who are shooting food on instagram, who are shooting food, I mean, they go to restaurants and they have their iPhones above the dish. There's a lot of people who are really kind of considering going pro in this and I'm gonna be addressing a lot of different photographers and a lot of different stages in their career and kinda how to carve out your niche and that's not always easier, you know, it's easier said than done, it takes time, it takes a lot of time, it took me a lot of time. So I'm gonna kinda dis...

arm all the myths and all the things you hear about the industry, how difficult it can be. Things aren't as difficult as they seem and kind of just walk you through it, so that when you leave here, you're gonna really have a confidence and an understanding of kind of where to take your food photography to the next level. So we're gonna be, we have two shoots that we're gonna be doing today. We're gonna be shooting kind of an overhead shot that's almost editorial-esque in nature and then we have a convection oven and we're gonna be shooting a very kind of commercial, high-impact image inside an oven, where I've got a light that's flexible and I'll kind of go through all that, but the most important thing in this industry is to stand out and I know you hear that a lot. How do you do it? And when I first got started, I had no idea what a style was, I was like why do I, do I need a style? It was sort of this mythical thing that I couldn't quite put my hands on, so that's really crucial. When I get called for a shoot, especially in advertising, which is the majority of my work, they're typically calling me cause they've seen something that I've done and they like it, that's really how I get a lot of my jobs. So it's important, I'm gonna kind of go through the marketing aspects of this too and how to get your work out there, in front of people and not be afraid to just push the same image over and over again. So I'll go through a variety of topics and there's a lot to cover, so we'll get started and we have two shoots and then at the end I'll kind of cover the business side of things and we'll do, we'll also take some images which will be announced later and we'll do a critique, which is really, I think, helpful to people to kinda see where they're at in their career. So yeah, let's get started on this. I started off as a chef and I'm gonna push this, I know Chase Jarvis from Creative Life did a post, a video post the other day about how he talked about how he looks at other artists for inspiration, not just photographers, he looks to everything beyond for inspiration, kind of resetting themselves and looking for new inspiration in oil paintings; and in music, that's kind of what I'd recommend people do early on in their careers. If there is something that you know how to do, if you're great at, if you've played baseball, semi-professionally or something, or if you, you already know the sport and you know what's gonna happen, you can follow the sport, you'll almost immediately be able to transfer that to your current photography career and be really good at it. I started off as a chef. I worked in Seattle at the Flying Fish, Companya, I was the pastry chef at the Beer Farm for a couple years and then I worked in New York as well at restaurant Danielle and some other restaurants, kind of working my way up, that's what I wanted to be when I was younger. I was like, I have to be a chef, I have to get a restaurant and there was this path that you go on and then eventually I felt, I don't, you know, I was an oil painter when I was a kid and I loved two-dimensional mediums, I loved art in general. How do I transfer that to potentially a new career? And I started off, I became a private chef, I'm like, I wanna leave the kitchen, that's not necessarily the way I wanna go anymore. So I became a private chef, cooking for families, and I started, I was flying around the country with them in their jet and it was a fantastic job and we lived in San Francisco and I was able to kind of get out and shoot landscapes and this is kind of where I started with my career. There's an image back in the studio, that I had printed, so I specialized in panoramic landscape photography, so a very specific niche, with a very specific look and I did it really straight from that look, it was high contrast, highly saturated and that kind of translated into how I shoot food. A lot of dramatic edge lighting, I'm like there's a sunset coming in, a lot of high contrast, a lot of color, I'm not a very ethereal photographer. I don't shoot shallow depth of field, typically, unless the client asks for it, but I've been able to carve out a style. So I love to see textures and I love to see the foreground and the background and I kind of love to create reiki light and I'll show you how to kind of achieve this style and also kind of how to, push it in your direction because when I was coming up and I was creating these images with just these really, reiki lights, I thought it was the first to ever pursue sort of how you enlighten an athlete and translate that to food, with like a lot of like back-edge lighting and I was wrong, I found a photographer who I met for the first time last week, he's amazing, and he does a very similar thing, so I kind of had to veer off and do my own thing and I made that decision as a business decision and a creative one, so it's not just creative decisions, you have to see where you fit in the market and I'm gonna specifically be covering how to go about that. So this is just a few from my collection. I love movement and I love interest, and dynamic elements. I love conceptual images, but we're hired to do a lot of packaging. This is a packaging shot featuring a vegan hamburger, which is really good, but we have to make a vegan hamburger look amazing, without doing a lot of crazy funny business to it and I'm also a stylist, I styled this myself and I'm not an experienced stylist, but I know enough to communicate with a food stylist intelligently, so that's an important part. That can be a challenge when you're starting out, you know actually, you don't have to shoot doesn't have, there's no budget for a stylist, I mean stylists go around from 12 to 15 hundred bucks per day and you have a budgeted shoot, you can charge your photography rate, but you don't have that, so it's important to know, somewhat styling as well, and this is the lighting and composition as well, and that's what I'm, That's an important thing to bring up because, I mean, as a food photographer, knowing food styling is pretty crucial and if you're, I'm asked to do food styling a lot on set, especially if it's packaging and basic, this goes about as far as I'll go in food styling. I love to have a food stylist who knows what they're doing, just do it. I love that, when the luxury's available, but when there's not, you know, I'm typically in the shoots that I do, there is room for a food stylist, typically, but when I'm doing stuff for local, smaller businesses I have to sometimes handle it on my own and it's not an easy subject to master, it takes a long time and having a food background, I'm still, you know, everyday, I know food frontwards and backwards, but it's a whole different beast. But yeah, it's a good question. So what are we gonna learn in this class? How are we gonna get there? I wanna really give you, there's a lot of classes that just kind of show how to do something and we're gonna do that but I really wanna translate that into, how do I develop my own personal style to stand out? I'm gonna go over that over and over again because it's the crucial element of this class to get across. The kind of pushing the photographic boundaries, doing what hasn't been done before and I know everything's kind of been done before, but there's always something a little extra to bring to the table and if you wanna become a food-slash-advertising photographer and not necessarily an editorial photographer, if you really wanna go into the commercial side of things, this is key, you have to make, you have to do a lot of test shoots, you have to shoot on your own a lot and you have to not only make decisions that are artistically good for your business but also just good for marketing, and good for, what you need to know where you fit in and you need to study your competition and you kinda need to form a style that fits, cause if I were to do sort of, you know, really ethereal, natural light photography, I wouldn't do it as well as some people, even in this town were fantastic at it, I just wouldn't fit, I would just be another natural light food photographer, whereas there's already, who have just completely mastered it and I just didn't master it enough to focus solely on natural light. It takes a lot of knowledge to harness natural light, cause it just changed, it went from cloudy to sunny and if you're not ready for that, you better be ready for that and I'm gonna go over the business side, how to run your business, how not to go out of business, how to not grow too fast. I feel like we've been on a path where there's been steady growth over the last four, five years that I've been doing this and we're not over-exerting ourselves or over-stretching our boundaries, if you will, there are photographers that I know that have two studios, but that have been doing it for a long, long time 20 years, that can be helpful, but it's a lot to maintain. So I'll kind of go over when you need a studio, is it important, do you even need one? So and kind of just navigating your career, I mean, you're all in different areas in your professional career right now, where do you go, and just kind of the pitfalls that I had and the mistakes that I made, I think would be a lot of value to you and to all the viewers. So I really, and don't be afraid to chime in with any questions regarding pricing, we'll get into that, but when the time comes I'm gonna cover pricing; I'm gonna cover, I'm gonna be annoyingly vague about it, but for a good reason, I'm not gonna give standard pricing, because there is no standard pricing, but by the end of it you'll know, okay this is the research I can do and I can provide a good estimate that makes sense and get jobs.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

With the advent of social media foodie culture, food photography is everywhere. The market is saturated with top-down smartphone images of cappuccinos, barley salads, and elaborate toast. This represents a real opportunity for photographers looking to expand their businesses. Professional photographers are in a position to provide high-quality, captivating images of delicious food for clients eager for an alternative to stock photography and social media images.

Join veteran photographer Steve Hansen for this comprehensive basics course, and you’ll learn:

  • How to shoot a beverage, main course, and dessert.
  • How to light and style your shots to get the most compelling images.
  • How to build out your basic studio gear to get the most out of your food styling and photography.

Steve will walk you through the basics of becoming a food photographer by drawing on his own experience as a chef, certified food stylist, and photographer. You’ll learn about the equipment you’ll need; how to interact with food and prop stylists, and direct them during a shoot; how to work with digital technicians and editors; and you’ll learn Steve’s tips for marketing food photography. 


Christy cwood56

This class has appeal for the beginning food photographer as well as the photographer that is already a bit further advanced on the path. There is quality info about gear and other logistics for the beginner that is absolutely necessary and establishes a strong baseline of knowledge. When Steve starts to shoot then the magic really starts to happen as we get to see into his creative process, how he styles, how he problem solves, how he continues to push the envelope until he comes up with his incredible images. That was the most enlightening part of the whole class...being able to observe an artist in his creative zone. Steve is a master at what he does and whether you are a beginner, intermediate or even advanced photographer, there is something for you in this class. It is well worth the minimal cost of the class. Part of the value of purchasing this class is that you can watch it again and again and again and each time you will walk away with boatloads of info. It is one of those classes that you will go back to again and again and use as a reference point for improving your images. Thanks Steve for being willing to share your gifts and talents to help others! Awesome day!

Explore More Free Classes


Enjoy the free classes? Get 2000+ more Classes and watch it anytime, anywhere.

Get The Pass