The Food Photography Club launched last month and it’s been awesome. The most common business questions I get are all based on how to make money from food photography. Our first business webinar was about getting clients and all the different clients you can have.
There are many ways to sell your food photos. I’m going to break them down here and give details on each one.
Different Ways To Make Money From Food Photography
- Food Blogging
- Working In-House at a company – very rare (Did for 3 months for Disney, not food photography)
- Stock Photography (Did for over 10 years)
- Selling Art Prints (Have done since I was a teenager)
- Commissioned Work (What I’ve done for 25 years)
Make Money From Food Photography With Your Blog
Many of you reading this are food bloggers and many of you are already making money from your food blogs. I won’t go into much detail here as there are literally 100’s of sites dedicated to monetizing your blog. Also, I am not a professional food blogger and don’t plan on being one at this point. I just want to make sure I’m not misleading anyone here.
So there are several ways to make money from your blog, and the food photography part is just one of them. Since we’re talking specifically about making money from food photography, here’s a few ways to do just that with your blog.
- Doing sponsored posts for brands where you use their recipe, photograph it, and publishing it on your blog.
- Doing sponsored posts for brands where you develop a recipe for the client, photograph it, and publish it on your blog.
- Doing social media campaigns for brands where you take photos of their food product(s) and they use your images on their social media channels, or they pay you to show them on your social media channels. This could involve making recipes, or just using their existing food products.
- Creating content for brands who will then publish your images on their websites, and use your images for other ad campaigns.
- Creating your own cookbook ebooks and selling them on your blog, or through other channels like Amazon.
- When your photography is excellent, many bloggers get approached to photograph food for print advertising through ad agencies, or directly with the brands.
There are more ways to make money from food blogging by monetizing your blog. If you have excellent food photography, more people come to your blog, which means more page views, which means more money when you monetize your blog.
Make Money From Food Photography By Working In-House At A Company
This type of job is very hard to find, but they do exist. I worked in-house at Disney in their photography department at their headquarters in Burbank as an internship during school. I learned, I am not a corporate girl – ’nuff said.
There are food catalog companies, magazines, grocery stores like Whole Foods, and now some ad agencies that have staff shooters that do food photography. So if you’re not into the whole self employed, entrepreneur thing, this could be an option – you just have to really hunt for them on google. You also need a lot of experience shooting first before this will become an option for you.
Selling Your Food Photos Through Stock Agencies
Many of you are already doing this. Millions of images are sold through stock agencies every day. All my best sellers are always shot on white, like what you see above. There are also 1000’s of stock sites online. The way you should look at stock is that it will be extra income for you until you amass several 1000 images with the stock agencies. I know very few who are doing this full time. Many shooters use stock sales just for extra cash.
I sold stock with the very first stock food agency called Food Pix. This was before this thing called the internet took off. It was all with film. The money was great back then. I took the majority of my images out of stock many years ago when my monthly income from stock was dropping. My images would sell for hundreds of dollars, but I would end up only getting about $20 from that. The agents got the rest because they sold it through partners and everyone got their hand in the money jar. Because there are millions of food photos for sale via stock sites, you’ve got a ton of competition so it’s all about the numbers. The more images you have in stock, the more you can possibly make.
Here are probably the best places to try to sell your images for stock – keep in mind you have to have lots of images to make money at this:
The good thing is, once the image is up for sale, it’s all on auto pilot. Bad thing is you have to key word your images, and this takes time to learn to do it properly. Every stock house has a different set of requirements for image keywording too, so you’re doing extra work for each agency you are with.
Making Money Selling Art Prints
This is an entirely different way of selling all together. We are stepping into the fine art word here. Last year, I did several art fairs to sell art prints. I’ve always wanted to try it and see if I would like it. It cost quite a bit to get all the stuff necessary to sell prints at art fairs, and took months of work creating everything. I did several shows and I even managed to get an honorable mention at the Beverly Hills Art Show, which was very exciting.
For me though, it was so physically difficult, way more physically difficult than doing commercial photography, and many of our weekends were spent prepping for art fairs if we weren’t currently in one. I say we because I couldn’t have done them without my boyfriend Scott.
We had a blast and I did make some money, but not nearly as much as I do from shooting or teaching. I needed to learn a lot more about selling that way, and about booth design, so we decided that we just didn’t like it enough to continue.
However, there are many shooters who are successful at selling photography at these fairs. I was always the only person who was selling photos of food. Most photographers were landscape shooters. So if you do have questions about this, feel free to ask. I am by no means an expert, but I can certainly tell you my experience.
Making Money With Commissioned Food Photography Jobs
So this is what I’ve been doing to support myself for 25 years. Commissioned photography jobs are the jobs where you are hired to take photos for your clients as a freelance artist. There are many different ways to get this kind of work.
We need to break down the two different types of commissioned work.
Client Direct: You are working directly with the client. There is no one communicating between you and the client.
Client direct work usually have smaller budgets and there is a lot more hand holding because many times the clients have no idea what they want. Sometimes they think we are also designers and that we are supposed to tell them what they need. Only a few of my jobs are client direct now. In the beginning, most of my jobs were client direct. So if you are just starting out, this will be your course for a while.
Here are all the types of commissioned work you can do with your food photography that typically are Client Direct:
- Start up food companies
- E-Commerce – food or meal delivery websites
- High end grocery stores
Agency Work: You are working with a person or a company who is not the end client. Many times you will never meet their client. The agency actually becomes your client in this case. This is how most ad work is handled. Usually these are bigger jobs as well and they tend to have more experience hiring food photographers.
The budgets are bigger and there is usually less hand holding through the whole process.
Here are all the types of commissioned work that you can do with an agency client:
- PR Firms that specialize in food and beverage and/or restaurants
- Design Studios – food packaging
- Ad agencies – ads, packaging, brochures, pamphlets, billboards, large restaurant menus, website work, social media campaigns, images for tv, direct mail advertising, catalogs, just to name a few.
There are also freelance producers, art buyers, art directors and creative directors that work with clients who don’t want to hire a huge agency. These people could also become your clients.
So you see, in the world of commissioned food photography – there’s a ton of options to get jobs. Now you just have to find them! That’s probably going to be another post.
I will be talking about this in more detail in the Food Photography Club. We will be launching again very soon so if you are not already, make sure to get on the wait list for the club as everyone on that list gets notified first.
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