Making a Living in Food Photography Part 1
So we made a list of things that how people are making, move money, food, photography and figured out what we love to because you have to love it there's a lot of things that ways that people are making food doing, making money, food, photography, but I don't part of it, some of it, I don't think I would really love so we're sharing you a list of ways that we've my money and how we continue to make a living food photography, but at the same time loving what we dio because it's again, just not one facet of photography that we do there's a lot, and this is harley, a defendant of list either there's, like I said or like diane said, this is just things that we've done to do it, and even within each of these individual elements there's multiple ways to approach that, I think that's when the beautiful things of time right now, it's, like there is no one answer, there is no one way to do it even within each of these elements. There's no way to be successful, one way to be successful, yeah, yo...
u just I have to keep seeking we're going to show you with you how we do it you know and it's great to talk to other food photographers we'll you know do you make money doing this how do you do it? It's always great that way it keeps your mind open to a different opportunities so first is talking about stock and licensing because this is one of the first ways we started selling stock and it wasn't intentional it was fully seriously by accident um I think was an editor a client or client just emailed and said you know, I really like this photo of this fresh produce because we grow in a lot and this is a homegrown pomegranate and it's hard to get any fresher than this in a grocery store and always had leaves on it and they say you know, we loved that produce that you're shooting where do you get it like? Well it's actually from our garden they loved and they said, well, do you have any like that? We noticed there was some on your blogged can we license those and then I said somebody wants to buy pictures we already have that's kind of cool realizes a picture this's how todd and I learned back then we didn't go to a workshop we did not hear it did not have creative life back then unfortunately we wish we did we just googled google is our friend everything we learned we learned from ghoul and we learned from you to let me tell you were totally self top and from our own mistake for mistakes definitely that's what we did, we had no idea what license thing was. I didn't know what that really term meant. You know how to google it. Oh, you know what it means now. Okay, got it. How much free charge? So we just told them well, yeah, we have some pictures you could license, you know? Yeah. And they said I said, what's your budget and they said, well, what you're pricing, you know that so then I go and I didn't have an answer I didn't have anybody to go to. So went to these generic stock sites getty images I stock photos and I want to see how much they were charging and they were charging anywhere from like seventy five dollars to maybe four, five hundred dollars for pictures and depending on the on the resolution and stuff, so I threw it on number well, it's the picture we already have, we already shot and I said you wanted to be original. They said no, just exactly the one on your block so they were shopping are blawg, which was awesome and that was the first way how we made stalk him stock money and they said I want to you know license these five pictures and I said oh wow become would come up with a number I don't know so I looked at my stop is it okay uh you get nervous you know it's your first time is like oh I don't know like one hundred fifty dollars each you know and like you know well what you want to use it for like our website maybe a recipe card okay so like you know it was like a hundred dollars just like that again and todd pulled him up on the archive sent it to them they delivered and that was like wow stock images that's awesome so knowing that there's a lot of clients out there that don't need all the fancy styling they don't need the handler they don't need the motion and something anything complicated they just want a simple stock image something that they can use for all purposes and that's why when we talked about when we're shooting the table saying always think of stock because we have a huge archive of images that we have collected and tagged and divided into different albums and theme so that the client says I just need peach images do you have peach images we say absolutely yes I've got an archive of peach images so everywhere we go we have an opportunity we shoot single out certain subjects that could be potential for stock and we shoot it a little bit wider so they could have a lot of crop options and todd's really good about that, too, especially in shoots when I'm busy styling and in between shots, we'll just jump in and shoot something, you know? And that is a stock, so all those are assets that you can use to sell yes, if you lie since one of your photos to someone else, can you still use it? Absolutely. You are the copyright owner of that website that that that that image so don't ever give up copyright, you know, don't ever given exclusive I never get I never we never give exclusives unless it's a custom it's somebody commissioned it, and then then I don't have a right to resell it. Well, if you do given exclusive, if you're charging for right, right? Because then you're basically you're xing out any potential opportunity that you could to sell it to anyone else, okay? And that's the thing with stock photos they're going to be they pretty much a company knows, like when they're buying a stock image, this could be potentially anywhere. If they want an exclusive on it, they'll be willing to pay for it it's not then sometimes they might just not understanding how that's working, but pretty much how it was how it does, okay? And when that started, you know, we started thinking what we started submitting our names to the getty images and ice talking all that well, this is very cool um, and we never really did anything with it because thie commissions or lower it didn't work for us, but I know people who can build very successful stock businesses on those sites so it can work for them. For us. We decided we don't want to go that right away because it's just about todd and I and we just really don't want any middlemen and the way we run our business, we're just very clean and very simple, so we withdrew our names from that, and we just sell it privately now and privately and stock it's been really great for us because people have especially the people have bought stock, they keep coming back for more and that's, particularly with their huge archive of images because shooting block, post or on location or or on sets, we just have every opportunity to add to that collection. So it's been very good to us and it's actually quite easy. We don't ever set aside a day and say let's, shoot, stop, you can't do that, that, but for us lucky enough, we've always had that the back of the head at every shoot let's shoot that have added in our stock so always thinking ten layers of head in business you have to have an opportunity on a shoot to shoot whatever it is she's some for stock yes I'm wondering you said someone as for peaches anyone throw your photos because keyword ing or how are you organizing? We'll be organized me they usually go in albums on the key word in our light room at when we break him up into fruit and then we break one two vegetables and each fruit usually there's a sexually wonderful that's that well for most of our organization so I'm actually going in oh, I don't know that's the file structure that's like you so uh we try key wording for awhile and then I said forget about it we want the best key orders because sometimes one of this is putting it in and and it's not just all just funneling through me it's like we're both throwing stuff and we have over different computers so to keep up on it I found I was spending more time keeping up and then I like uh you know, it's like my time my fellows better use otherwise so I just basically rely on the file structure and then we both have pretty good memories to for when we shot so even though we have probably like three thousand images we tend to know we're a lot of them around, you know your children thirty thousand? Yes, and and managing an organizing the beginning is really great too. And some fruit? Yes. So for me, it's mostly just in my file structure that I keep it organized. You just do it that way where someone will call and say I need a peach shot or do you have any sort of catalog that people who find you with no it's? Very simple? We have a photo props store. Thank you, jim, for mention that where we sell a prince and also on there is a link for a stock images and that's how people find us and just people will ask and then it's just by word of mouth. But we just let people know in our, um, photo store that we sell stock and that's been really great, and so we make it very obvious. And then after that you can customized for the individual so someone contact you and say they I need peach images. We'll throw up in online gallery for them for different options that they have so something that's more tailored to them specifically so rare than having whisky, a site that has everything under the sun that we've got where they takes you forever to sift through that way each thing becomes a bit more personalized for the client and we just start, you know, very low res a two hundred dollars, and they can go up tio about maybe four, five hundred fifty dollars, but these were images that we sell to everybody, and then we go into the next layer of custom stock or commission stock. But that's been really good for us. And that's um, a nice little piece of our business that we don't really have to do anything. You know, that's just one of the easiest ways for us to make income. When we just recently last month, just a few weeks ago, just sold almost like two sets and eight thousand dollars with the stock just for sir to clients, it was just like that we said ok took us twenty minutes to pull it off and they licensed him, you know? So it was it was really that for us. Easy. Just because we don't put time to shooting stock, we use the opportunity shoot whenever we can and we save it. Yes, we have some questions on stock photography before we move on. Stop. Yeah. So let's. See? And you may have already answered this, but ost a tx fred home. Assuming might be austin, texas, fred that I could be wrong of are you sorry you able to sell stock? After you've shot for a client know most of the time no if it's a client that's commissioned ah work that's licensed to them no we never ever do sell it we don't even try we've often had we actually had a we put up a alcohol shot or cocktail shot we shot for another client back in europe and another alcohol company and asked a license it we said we can't and they said you can't it's like no can't license it they really wanted to help turn those opportunities those knows we try to turn into opportunities as well like I'm sorry it's like this one is already licensed to this client however if you like maybe we create something for you so that that no then becomes a potentials additional business way always let them know you know it's a no but you know we can always shoot something individual in special for you or maybe go through other archive of of alcohol images that's the beauty of being a content creator you get to create yeah it's a lot of fun it's actually a lot of fun it's nice it's always exciting to get a stock request because it's so easy you know the another winner yeah so shawna pineapple coconut would like to know when you shoot an extra one for stock do you keep it on the same background? Where do you switch to a seamless white background the great question, you know, you know there's that temper stock words claims that people can pull out we usually don't do that stuff ours is more lifestyle stock and we've always branded it that way and people know that because the people want that texture and a little bit of that mood and story we don't always readily have at white seamless toe throw it on, so but we find that most of the client requests that come to us are looking for those textured, more intimate or a little bit of interest to him, yeah, slight editorial and just to make sure folks at home understand just to clarify winter drove says, do you shoot stock on jobs while on the set at a client shoot a little bit confused? Yeah, yes, we can like individual as long as it doesn't represent, you know, whatever is indicative of that shot or specific branding, so yeah, so for example, for that cherry you know, if this was a client shoot, I probably pull the the basket of cherries over to the side or something on another surface because those cherries could be anywhere at the same time it would never when we're on a shoot, the chute is one hundred percent priority, so this isn't something it's like you're trying your running around and forgetting by your client or taking any attention or focus away from the client and the work that you're doing there is if you happen to have a time that's like cool, you can grab and add it in but it's never taken away from the explains that the client gets because that's one hundred percent of focus yeah, I would say the majority of the time when we do it it's more what we're doing your own personal work sometimes when you're practicing that tends to be a lot of it other times when yeah, well, if you have a block and you're sitting for the blogged sometimes use having finally you have it the camera and it's like you just find something that's gorgeous it's raining it's like, oh, the range is falling amazing the office treats grab a picture that you love it and then later that becomes a seduction for you yeah so you know this good point likes like when clients were shooting we don't like let's do stock today it's when there's leftovers yeah that we always have tons of leftovers, so we'll save it the next day and rather than you know, if that's still good condition, we donate to the soup kitchen whatever loose ends are left over if they're still good, we'll shoot something with after the clients got home today or whatever after the shoot you think so yeah, it would be totally disrespectful to shoot your own project. Let's talk about editorial it's like we've done editorial work for magazines, too. And and how did we get it again? We got very lucky because not gonna would they found us through our portfolio? No way they found us through the website through the block but there's other ways to do it where it don't feel like oh, because you're lucky you have a block, I don't have a box, I will never have an opportunity and that's not true, first of all, always worked to improve your photography always keep it polished always represented the best professional way possible put it on a portfolio, get some really great quality prints and how you reach out. I know, I know from talking to other people, we we never had to pitch or anything like that. But nowadays this is the land of social life of social media, it's a generation where we're all connected in some way so there's a lot of people that will probably email, try to find an editor, you know, or try to send in images that's that's one way to do it I guess I don't know if it really is very effective, unless if unless you already have a relationship with someone within that magazine and some people do have long time relationships with somebody in a magazine where they know somebody who knows somebody who was able to get in the door. But what if you don't? What if your brand new, but you have amazing work and don't say it's almost a little bit of like what ethan was talking about with the restaurants, where if it tends to be more of a can establish magazine, they usually have the people they go to. But if it's someone that's more of a startup that's a different scenario, a lot of times they're looking for someone that they can afford or that is may be local. One of the great ones, I think, being like the local edible magazine reaching out to them because a lot of times they our little smaller, a little bit more of startup type mentalities and that's a great way to reach out to get into that food photography editorial business and starting small infighting at word those local publications are and again, this is the generation of sosocial from social media everyone's on twitter everyone's on fake facebook make friends start a conversation if I know a fake book does, say facebook almost come to think about who the editors are, find out what their twitter handle is, just have a conversation. Like, you know, when ethan said somebody it's like how what would I do to want a photograph in your restaurant? He said, have a conversation with me, eat in my restaurant get to know me, you know, make it warm because we're human, you know, don't do a cold pitch and say hi, you know, like, you know, can you take a look at my work right now? Can you hire me for the story? I've got this great story? I mean, I feel like, you know, the culture of what we've cultivated in social media, it's changing, we want interaction, we want genuine relationships and we want honest conversation, so find out who they are talkto one twitter talkto on facebook say hi find out if they're going to a food event or speaking event, you know, go up in me them introduce yourself all those human interactions I feel are the best way because if I were an editor, I would love if somebody were to have that human interaction with me and that way first start the conversation and allow me to see your work and allow me to know you. So I think that's a really great way, and I know that from a lot of people who have made their way up through the editorial world and in getting their work published in magazines is getting to know the person and being really involved in social media. That's, I think, has been really helpful, particularly when you look for and editorial magazine that you want to contribute. Tio, look for ones that you like, the ones that your style matches up with their style, you know, there's some that may have a very stark playing look and that's not how you shoot, so that might not be the best fit for you. Unless you want to learn how to shoot that start clean work, practice that and then shoot for them. So do something that's matching up with them, too. So you're not just coming out of left field and trying to force yourself into that hole. And then what would you say are some of the different opportunities within the editorial? Because there's a lot of different types of photography that goes, you know, sometimes that a troll something they just need someone to shoot, like for editorial, like their online websites and that's, a great start is reaching out to the digital editor. Usually, you know, there's different editors theirs. Chains there's a hole, a hierarchal level of different types of editors that work within a editorial publication. There's the print side and there's the website. So starting from their web version first working with a digital editor. So find out and all that information is on a magazine. If a print magazine, all you do is flip it in and you see their names, you know who they are. Same thing with online. You find out who the online editor is, who the content editor is, you know, and everything like that and just reach out, make it have a conversation if I know what they are, I think it's a lot. It's easy to know who they are. The hardest part is having how to build that relationship, but it takes a little bit finesse, and it takes a little bit of thought and people skills and people skills, people skills. Next is restaurant location. Yes, maybe a question or two before we move onto. So one of the folks asked about, you know, of course, to use instagram for your business. If yes, does it work? Well, we know you d'oh because we said your handles, which are your names in terms of business, in terms of actually shooting. On an iphone and making money in that way no, I've never really sold on iphone image no one's ever hired us to shoot on an iphone using it in terms of business for branding and voice yes that's essentially part of as much as I say it's more of a hobby it's still part essentially the business because we put pictures up there and we put fun pictures but sometimes we try to put whatever it is that we love to and that happens to be resonating with an editor or something so that they might find us through instagram, which is which is kind of mesh is a little bit with what we'll talk about when we talk about your block is part of your business too so there's a kind of block and social media will intertwine now that's not to say that you can't make money off of instagram and ease your iphone because we know people that have done that I've done that quite successfully we just haven't personally so I can't really talk about because I don't know how to do that but for our we intentionally using instagram for business no but does it help our business? Yes, it does great thank you so yeah another great question from joanne m ay on the other side of instagram is print do you have a print portfolio and if so just little details about your formats screwed tight box number of ages size no who would you recommend them for or would you oh yeah there's a lot of people that that really use that a lot print portfolios where they send to certain editors or keep people within an editorial organization or position we have not ever done that everybody's found us through online and they've looked at our portfolio when they said I want to hire you so lucky we have not gotten to that point dwight will I need to know who knows it might you know find it too if if there's another that said you know, I've got a project going I'm considering these three final photographers I need you to send me a print collection or something absolutely that's where I think that it would be a time where we would need to do that and they will probably look up we have created life has a coarse way don't do that some people see that you know I realize but yeah there's so much that it was so funny because there's a minute ago you guys were mentioning instagram and we do have a course coming up for instagram for your visit I'm just a couple of marks now it's starts on monday monday okay whether you get on yeah they're back to the print books though there is maybe a slight similarity though to within our studio though we do have printouts that we just basically have out basically have our workout for when clients are in the studio so that way they can see a little bit more of the range of work that we do a lot of times when we're shooting for a particular client they know the work that we do for them but it wasn't until we started putting more that work up on the wall because before initially I think when we actually just recently doubled our studio space and we took up a lot of space with just everything that we needed for the daily operations of it and we have some things up that were for the aesthetics but not a lot and the things that we put up we in our friend gallery we tend to put it not ten we have just straight iphone pictures in her front gallery one is that reminder to us that it's not the tool is the photographer is that intentional push that it's like it doesn't matter what you have in your hand and it's that that reminds us is not that what you have in your hand but it's you that takes the picture and we are always you know it's like we love it when we share it with a client like that's from an iphone yeah that's that's just from your campaign that's amazing it's that it's not amazing it's just a matter of seeing it it's the photographer and it is to encourage everyone that's like it doesn't matter what you have for your gear it's you that takes the picture so we have that element, but we didn't have a lot of a professional work up in the studio and after we've dealt with your space, we made sure we set aside part of that space to start putting up more of those images that express a little bit more of the breath of our work and we love it now in clients when they're in between sets and stuff like that they're going, they're wondering and they're picking up what is that we might have a print out and on a coffee table or seeing the photos and more the gallery side of the studio and it just it helps them know a little bit more of what we can do and we get additional business I that's got additional business, so for print, the most printing we will do is is just prints that we have on our, um absent printer and we'll just send them there so that gets us more work too, but nothing that we've ever had to send out yet. Great. Thank you. Yeah so restaurant location a lot of people want to start restaurant shooting and I think ethan yesterday here was a great asset for that and I think he said it really well it's just eat at their restaurant reaching out just saying hi and I mean because because restaurants now with particularly smaller restaurants and more intimate neighborhood restaurants, those are the kind of the best places to get started in because it's a smaller restaurant the chef is probably there he's probably there all the time is involved in the everyday activities it's a great way for you to reach out and say hi get them to know you and then get slowly, show them your work and that's a lot of what we do, how we started it we just knew a chef friend who needed some images and we love that and was easy for us and just think started growing at an agency started reaching out to us so much now what we do in terms of restaurant work is through agencies very really does the restaurant um low reach out to us directly? They usually have an agency that they go through the agency calls us because one thing is like, for the most part restaurants than have pretty tight budgets there's not a lot of wiggle room that they have to spend money and throw it around so especially the smaller guys they don't have a big bunch of for photography some of them they don't feel it's that important to them yet others of them it's like they realize there's a value to it but they try to find the most economical way that thing can get it. And when you start to get sent to some of the bigger ones, particular ones where the russian tour has maybe a group of restaurants, someone like ethan, they although he doesn't in particular there's others which they'll have an agency, or maybe someone in house which is looking for a photographer, so they have a little bit more of a budget teo for bigger shoots, but, you know, that's, what we do, what we love, it allows us to get outside the studio and it's become a nice little portion of our business, too. And, you know, I don't think we would shoot it all the time just because budgets are smaller, so we're not always out to always shoot big jobs, these air, smaller jobs, a little less paying but it's so satisfying, you know, it is so much fun to go out and just to free, shoot and do so much of whatever we want to do without being stuck to a tether and on tabletop. And I don't have silex like this shoot teo yes. So when you said go to the restaurant and eat, and I've done that on dh. But on I'll talk to the chef hey I love this dish I love this and that I'm a food photographer and we'll talk and then I'll say and by the way if you need some images now you said slowly so in your opinion is the best to just talk in general about the food and then maybe follow up a week later with an email saying this is what I do because you got to be really careful with that I think you know you have to be careful but I think if I were you if I were doing this I want to see if they even need a food photographer first okay because it would I'm sure as a chef he's going to get a lot of requests and you know, people approaching him about photographing the restaurant so first of all find out take a look the pictures first okay that's where you start looking the pictures see if they need improvement you know I think that's where it starts you just the pictures are great, you walk in and you offering something that they don't need that would be kind of funny so first of all see if the need is there and see if that once the need is there see if you can't add value to that photography for them if they're going to add value if you are going to add value is photographer in what way and then if you do feel that there is room for improvement in their photography, if you have new ideas and you do think that you could shoot something different, then slowly tark talking, start and see if they're interested sometimes they're not interested. Sometimes they are, if they're not interested, don't keep trying to hit your head against the wall, you know, and, um if maybe they aren't interested, maybe just shoot something and then say, oh, you know, happened to be in your restaurant the other day or just send it to him like, this is an image, you know, just want to see what you thought, but don't I would be careful about always following up, particularly with someone who's not really interested anyway, so making sure there is interest on their end where else you're just gonna scare him quite honestly, I think you will, I think there's, sometimes we get so ambitious. And so stefan, we we contacted contact, and sometimes we realize that honestly, we're more of a father, you know, but it doesn't hurt to try, but just you've got to feel the waters first, you got to feel the waters first, and sometimes maybe they're doing a special event, a charity event, and you just give that as an opportunity for you to work with them maybe charge and maybe you don't maybe it's just that your payment is the opportunity to show them how useful you are other times you might be able to from that event even they might be willing tio I hire you to do that so a lot of times if they don't seem like they have an immediate need sometimes they might have a special occasion needs at least you've you've made that contact and they've seen your work and they remember you know that's the most important thing if nothing comes out of it now something might come out of it six months later you know what? Always just be friends first. You know muriel travel was a food specialty there's so many travel photographers out there but we never welcome one and they were to be travel photographers and how that happened for us because we always focused on food so we get a lot of travel work and it's so much fun someone to pay for you to go somewhere you know that's what I thought but it's fun to have two people to go so war and to shoot and actually get paid for it which is awesome and I think that's where travel photography worked for us because we had a food specialty so maybe, you know, let people know that's your travel photographer particularly with travel magazines or travel publications travel editor's those type of websites let them know I'm a travel photographer. I can accomplish all those news that you would need from a travel photographer but I have a specialty and food and food lifestyle. Not only can I do what they do, I can also capture food in in a really wonderful visual way. There's a job or of some type of campaign or project where you not only need travel but there's a food ethicist think of me. So I think selling yourself in terms of having that specialty and food is really super helpful because food is so huge now now and that's an asset. How should they show them? How should they serve a client that they that they that's what they do, show them in images and images and that's what we did, we put a lot of travel images of wherever we travel. Even on the kishen, we shot food in the context of travel, the context of, you know, a place and time and people on faces. And you knew immediately that this was not dish that was in our kitchen. This was a dish that was in mexico. This is definitely vietnam. This is definitely cuba. This is definitely japan, and whenever we travel, we shoot the food and that's what started? We went to japan in two thousand and eight I think or nine or something like that at nine, and that we win and we took all these pictures funds that were fun for the block, and then I thought, well, some of them are pretty good, I like him, so they just moved him over to the website in a gallery called travel I think I put it and travel at that time. And then we started, people started seeing that and they like that and says that's, where your portfolios and your and your blog's these air where you start broadcasting that what you want to dio, you know, it's like, what do you want to shoot? This is where you're telling people this is what I can do this is this is where I you know, you know, within yourself you're saying this is where I want to make money. This is where I want to spend my time, that's what I want, a photograph and for people dealing it's like this is what they love to dio this is where they get out, and this is the this is what we do to they said, talent, and you do so much, you know, it's like you're are you watering down one other skill I'm like absolutely not everything we do. That's more it actually makes another field even better because it allows us to see differently laws this is think differently and we're using a different skill that sometimes we're going to need for this niche over here so I feel really good about being able to do so many of these things and I just tell todd I want to make sure we just do it well, but what? I don't want to limit ourselves because we get bored so I don't mind saying I'm a food photographer I'm a food stylist, animal products stylist I've had many conversations with other food photography that say you just need to specialize because you can do all three really well on like I'm gonna try now that you just told me I can't and not only that I'm gonna tell everybody I'm a food photographer I'm a food stylist and I'm a prop stylist and I'm really proud to say that I'm really proud to tell you that I could do my darn best to try to make you happy with my work. So I'm gonna limit myself to calling myself just a food photographer I'm saying that to everybody who ever had a conversation with because I think they're listening stylistic? Yes, just I asked the legal question I think a couple days ago about model releases, so you're on vacation because I've seen your photos with people in it and so it's not for a client anything but you want to show them on your your website and show people what you khun dio do you just ask the people is it okay if I take your photo and it's just from my website or do you have a piece of paper with a model release for that or I'm still time right dan that apiece for those images that we share in the block we're not selling those images you know although there are no belong with ad so we do monetize a little bit of it of it but most of the pictures that you see in the blob with people the people that we've asked you know just random people and then they're never going to be sold the people in terms of the chefs we have total permission right to be able to share that so those are all impermissible and all under contract already but generally when we do do do do travel rarely though do we ever show tons of people or group of people with random faces were very careful about that so if you go through a lot of our travel images if there are people there usually have a chef of an artisan and they totally nowhere there and they're totally cool with it but no I don't want to get to the part where I'm going to sell stock with random faces that's not what we do oliver stock images. If we sell stock images, they're just going to beam or of inanimate objects are moments and food, but really, is it ari, ever. Never we ever going to sell the stock image? Was someone else's face on it, and I don't ever want to carry around model hedley, smart there's. Such a pain, I miss simplify, simplify your business if you want teo, I'm simplify what we need, teo, for sure.