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Food Photographer Job Description, Career as a Food Photographer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $35,000 Annually

Job Outlook: Good

Job Description

A food photographer has to work hard to elicit good strong reactions out of their work for the foods that we eat. This may sound simplistic, but it is no small task. Those who work as food photographers not only need to have a background and appreciation or food, but they need to be able to properly capture it through their photography. Therefore this position often marries a culinary background with a strong skill in photography. Though the career path may vary as to how an individual gets here, this can be a very involved position.
Oftentimes food photographers may work for corporations directly. They may work as part of a team for a food organization as there is constantly a need for different food shots. These food photos will be used for promotional purposes, on the packaging of food, and in ads. There are a variety of needs that food photos must fulfill and therefore it’s imperative that the food photographer be able to capture the photo just right so that the food looks enticing and gets people to want to eat it.
Food photographers are usually involved not only in the actual photo shoot, but the set up as well. They may work to gather the appropriate materials, ensuring the freshest and best looking food items. They may work on the lighting to ensure that the very best light is used to highlight the foods directly. They may work on creating the perfect setting for the food to be shot within, so that the company that they are working for is happy with the photos that are taken. They may have a very involved role from beginning to end to understand the need of the food photos and to ensure that they are captured in the appropriate and best manner.
Food photographers may work for themselves and be hired on a contract or freelance basis by restaurants or food companies. They are considered specialists in their field as they must not only understand how the food needs to be portrayed, but capture the most appealing elements. The end result of the food photos should be business for the restaurant or an appeal for consumers to buy the food items directly.

Education and Training Requirements

Though there is no set educational or training requirement, it is usually required that an individual has a bachelor’s degree at the very least. Though proven experience may very well fulfill that requirement as an alternative. Those who work as food photographers should be able to demonstrate not only a good solid background within photography, but also an appreciation for food. It’s important to have experience within these two components as they will both prove to be quite important to this role. Working previously as a photographer in other areas may work. Some food photographers may come up the ranks by working within the culinary world, as that experience and knowledge may transfer well to this type of role.

Getting the Job

Though an actual career path within the field may be helpful in getting the job, this isn’t necessarily the route that all food photographers take. Working in a related organization or within the food industry may help. In some instances, a food photographer may start out working for another photographer to gain valuable experience. Having a culinary background or strong photography background may also help an individual land a role as a food photographer. It really depends on the nature of the organization, the client, or the need of the photo shoots directly.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

There always seems to be a need for food photographers, so that allows it to be a position in demand. As restaurants and food companies are always using food photographs for their packaging, advertising, and promotions, this means that there is always a need for a good food photographer. Many organizations may prefer to work with food photographers on a contract or freelance basis, and therefore that means that many within food photography may work on their own. There is great opportunity to grow a client base or to grow within the profession. Those who demonstrate a good solid ability and who keep their clients happy may always have plenty of work. Though the field of food photography may be competitive, those who demonstrate their abilities may be able to grow within their career.

Working Conditions and Environment

Typically food photographers work within a studio, either their own or that of their client. They may attend client meetings to understand the needs, and may even have to present their work after the photo shoots in some instances. Depending on the nature of the food photo shoot, they may have to handle the needs of their clients at alternate locations. The environment may sometimes be stressful depending on the deadline and the specific needs of the client. A food photographer must be a perfectionist of sorts to ensure the proper lighting and the right shots to meet the client needs. They must be able to rise above and handle the stress and the criticism that may come about from their clients until they get it just right.

Salary and Benefits

Though the average salary of a food photographer may be around $35,000 annually, this is dependent on a number of factors. Those who work within this role may expect to receive more if they work for themselves. They may also expect to receive more depending on their geographical locations, as those who work within large cities or metropolitan areas can expect to receive a higher salary. If a food photographer works for themselves then they may be required to handle their own benefits as any other contract or freelance worker would. If they do work for an organization directly they may expect to receive standard benefits such as paid vacation, health insurance, and even pension.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Culinary Professionals
1100 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 300 Atlanta, GA 30342, USA
Phone: (404) 252-3663
E-mail: info@iacp.com

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts