Is it better to be an independent photographer doing photos by contract or should you get a job with a business?
There are certainly many different ways to use your skills as a food photographer. However, you may be wondering whether you should look for a secure job as an employee for a photography job or if you should do freelance work.
Let’s go through a few reasons you may want to choose one over the other.
- You like being a your own boss and making your own schedule.
- You already have a part time or full time job and are looking to fit photoshoots in on the side.
- You get easily bored and like to switch things up and are comfortable taking creative freedom.
- You want space to scale your business up and raise your prices as your skills increase.
- You’re comfortable promoting yourself and building business relationships to grow your network.
If this is you then you’ll probably want to look into all the ways you can be a freelance or commercial food photographer. You can do photos for local restaurants, coffee shops, and even magazines. There are many ways to make money this way.
Here is a list of reasons you may want to get a job as a food photographer:
- You enjoy working with a familiar group of people on a regular basis and having a team environment.
- You need to have a W-2 job for insurance purposes or for your financial planning.
- You enjoy working with more structure and very clear expectations.
- You want a definitive payment each month that you can count on.
If this describes you then you you’ll want look for food photography job listings in your area and see if you can find something that fits your skill set and experience. This may be a bit more difficult if you live in a rural area but there are lots of remote work jobs that you can do online.
What kind of jobs can you get as a Commercial or Freelance Food Photographer?
Before you get started as a freelancer you may want consider setting up a business structure for your business before reaching out to potential clients. This not only helps build credibility but will also help you stay protected in the case of lawsuits and help you keep your finances separate for tax season. There are a few trustworthy sites online that will allow you to do this online in no time such as Legalzoom.com.
If you’ve considered the different options and decide that you want to start your own freelance photography business here are some options you can look into.
- Commercial and Editorial Magazines These are a great place to start, especially if you search on a local level. You can often find a list of people you can contact about contributing to the magazine on their website. These magazines are used to getting emailed about photography so they will likely get back to you if you seem like a good fit for them. You’ll want to learn a bit about contracts and have a good idea of your price points.
- Work with Food Brands Working with brands will help you scale much faster as they have a larger budget for advertising and can afford higher prices. If you’re just starting out you’ll want to focus on medium or smaller brands before going for the big leagues. Aim high but don’t be afraid of a little rejection as you’re building up your experience. Getting in touch with the right person can be a little more challenging but you can often ask around.
- Sell Your Photos on a Stock Photo Website There are plenty of stock photo websites that will allow you to sell your photos and make money from licensing. Try checking ShutterStock.com, GettyImages.com, or Alamy.com.
- Do Repeat Work for a Few Local Clients Approach smaller food businesses that don’t have good photos on their social media. You can offer to do a set number of photos for them every month for a retainer fee. Do this for a few businesses and you’ll have a roster of full-time photography work. Bonus points if you can offer to take on their social media pages too. That gets us to the next one.
- Social Media Manager for a small local food business or a small brand (This would be great if you love social media and have some experience growing your own following. It is a great way to diversify and package different skills together to offer your clients higher value.
- Cookbook Photography Getting a job doing cookbook photography isn’t so straight forward. It usually comes about by making connections in the food industry. A great way to build connections like this is to attend lots of food festivals and events in your local area and network with people. Be genuine and interested in learning about the chefs and organizers and mention you are a food photographer. You’d be surprised how quickly connections can pay off.
- Food Blogging: Kind of the obvious one. If you love creating recipes and writing blog posts a food blog is a great way to get into food photography. Keep in mind it can take years of hard work on a blog before you start making money from a food blog. Just something to keep in mind that this is not going to be the best avenue if you need an income immediately.
- Do Photos for an Established Food Blogger: The other way to do photography for food blogs is to search around for a food blogger to do photos for. Find someone who may want to focus on writing recipes and posts but would like to pay someone to do the photography.
- Look for Job Listings on Freelance Sites such as Upwork.com, Fiverr.com, Snappr.com. There are many online resources for getting leads in your local area as well, such as Bark.com or PhotographyJobs.net
What kind of jobs can you get as a Food Photography Employee?
Many food photographers prefer to work as independent contractors as there are far more options but if you’re looking for a job as a full-time employee here are some types of jobs to consider searching for.
- Become an In-House Photographer for a Business or Brand: You can search online for positions on job sites like Ziprecruiter.com, Indeed.com, and even LinekedIn. If you live in a smaller town this may be more difficult so try searching for positions online that are for remote photography.
- Find a Full-Time Position with a Magazine, News Paper, or TV Network: This is going to be easier to do if you live in a city with larger publications that are hiring often. A position like this will most likely require years of experience so it helps if you’ve had lots of time as a freelancer or other type of professional photography.
- Become a Food Photographer for Uber Eats: and other food delivery apps through OCUS.com. This is little bit in between a job and a freelance gig. It comes with more structure but not always consistent work
- Food Stylist: This job doesn’t involve the camera so much but if you have an eye for beautiful food styling it could be a great fit in the food photography niche. Go for the big leagues and search for jobs with news or tv studio in need of a full-time stylist. Often these organizations have entire teams behind setting up food photoshoots.
The options listed here are by no means all the options out there. In the digital age we live in there are ever growing ways to make a living with digital food photography. Keep trying new things and keeping your eyes and ears open to opportunity.
Other Options to Make a Career out of Food Photography
Be Both: There is no one stopping you from trying both options at once, a freelance photographer and a full or part time photography employee. Look in your area or online for one of the job ideas above and also test the waters as a freelancer on the side. This is a great way to start your career and see what works best for you.
It ultimately comes down to what is going to work well for you and make you happy in your career. Trying new things and finding out what you enjoy and feel comfortable doing long term is going to be the best way to decide what’s going to work for you. A career in food photography can be challenging but it is very rewarding and a lot of fun.
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