There is one question I get asked regularly in the Food Photography Club membership site, and also in my private Facebook group with the same name. Can you guess what it is? You probably have the same question.
How do I get food photography jobs?
Many times, those photographers asking that question are actually not ready for clients yet. In order to find freelance food photography jobs, you must have two things – a website with your portfolio of images, AND a printed portfolio book with your best images for in-person meetings.
In this post we are going to talk about your website first. Printing your portfolio book is quite involved, and I’ll share with you all the details about that soon.
When starting out, be patient with yourself. It takes time to build a portfolio of images, no matter what your subject is.
HOW MANY IMAGES DO YOU NEED IN YOUR PORTFOLIO?
The answer to this will depend on what type of portfolio we are doing. If you are starting out, you will be working on your website portfolio first. Think of this as your online brochure to share who you are, and what you do.
You need at least 30-50 images to start with. When our prospects are viewing our online portfolios, they tend to click or swipe through our images quite quickly. We don’t want them to run out of content too soon.
You can also make a food portfolio for your iPad using something like FolioBook (that’s what I use). This is where people will fly through your images, so it’s nice to have enough content for them to swipe through.
If you have up to about 40 food images, you can put them all into one “Food” gallery on your website. They can all live in one gallery.
When you start getting more images into your portfolio, you can then start breaking them down into other galleries/categories on your website to make the images easier to find.
For example, I have several galleries on my website. I have one general category called Food, then some other categories. I do this to make it easy for people to find what they are looking for.
If there is a coffee client looking for a photographer, this coffee client will easily be able to find my coffee shots in my Beverages gallery.
If you have at least 10 images that could make their own category, then you could put them into their own gallery. That’s the rule of thumb I try to stick to. I have too many images on my site actually, and need to do another edit. So please don’t think you need as many as I have.
On my website, I have two sections in my navigation on the left side. The top section is related to images. The bottom section has information about me, and all the things I do.
I’m a photographer, I teach, I blog, I have a membership site, and I also license images to art consultants. I try to make it easy for people to find this information.
It’s totally fine if you don’t have any of that.
All you need on your website is the following:
- At least one gallery of all your food images.
- Contact page – please make it really easy for any prospect to call or email you. PUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER ON YOUR WEBSITE! Many prospects just call me and leave a message because they don’t want to email. I’m shocked at how many photographer’s websites don’t have a phone number. My number has been on my site since 1997. You can easily make a Google phone number for free if you don’t want them to know your home phone number.
- An About page with about 250 words explaining what you do, what inspires you, where you are from, and some fun info. Don’t write a novel! They won’t read it. They don’t have time.
- Put your photo on your About page! If they are clicking on your About page – they want to learn about you! Show them your beautiful face!
- If you have done work with clients, create a tear sheet section where you show off what assignments you have done. Wait until you have at least 5 tear sheets to show. Have a look at mine if you don’t know what this means.
- Last – add your social media channels – not totally necessary, but it’s expected these days.
A word of caution – if you do shoot other things, like portraits or weddings, be very careful about showing all of that. You don’t want to look like a jack of all trades, master of none.
Also, if you have all kinds of different image styles with the same subject, that are all over the place, that can be an issue too. You don’t want to confuse the prospect. You want to make it very obvious what type of photography you do with a consistent look, and only show a few styles to start with.
For your print portfolio, you need at least 30 images to start. You can have less images in your printed book than your websites because people will take more time to go through your book.
WHAT IMAGES DO YOU NEED IN YOUR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO?
The answer to this is pretty simple. You need a large assortment of different types of food. Now, if you are a food blogger, and you specialize in baking, you’re going to have a ton of desserts. This will limit what type of food clients you can go after – but it’s a start.
If you do not have that many images of fully prepared food items, you will also be limiting what type of freelance photography jobs you can get.
Our prospects want to see the food item they are selling on your website. An ice cream company wants to see images of ice cream. A steak company wants to see pictures of steaks.
This is all they have to go by to see if you know how to photograph that food item. So, the more types of food you show on your site, the more types of clients you can go after.
Here is a list of all the different types of food items a professional food photographer could show on their website. These are in no particular order, and you don’t have to have all of them.
- Breakfast Foods
- Desserts – Ice Cream, Chocolate, etc
- Shots of Ingredients
- Soups & Stews
- Process Shots
- Action Shots
- Chef Portraits (if you want to shoot restaurants)
- Restaurant Architectural Interiors and Exteriors (if you want to shoot restaurants)
- Food on White
- If you are a vegan blogger – think of appropriate substitutes for items listed here
- If you are a vegetarian blogger – think of appropriate substitutes for items listed here
- Specialty foods that are from your local area – your prospects are looking for that
- Tear Sheets of Your Jobs
WHAT IF I SUCK AT FOOD STYLING AND CAN’T GET THOSE IMAGES OF PREPARED FOODS?
I’ve seen a lot of portfolios of aspiring food photographers. Many of those portfolios only have images of produce and desserts – all the pretty stuff that’s easy to shoot.
If your prospect has a food product that needs to be fully prepared, they won’t have confidence that you can do this job if you don’t have prepared food items in your portfolio.
If you are not a good food stylist, I’m not either by the way, then all you have to do is partner up with an aspiring food stylist, a chef at a restaurant, a culinary student, a personal/private chef, or a caterer. All of those that I mentioned need images of their food. This is an excellent opportunity to “test” with them for both of you to get images for your portfolios.
Let me know if you have any questions about putting your food photography portfolio together.
For more tips and tricks to help create your food photos, check out my ebook by clicking on the image below: