Food Photographer: Job Description and Career Roadmap
Find out how to become a food photographer. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in food photography.
Requirements to Become a Food Photographer
Professional food photographers work alongside food stylists to create images of food for use in advertising, menus, cookbooks and other print and online media. Digital cameras have virtually replaced film cameras in photography, so prospective food photographers must be proficient in using a digital camera and related technologies to find success in the field.
A college degree is not always a requirement to work as a food photographer, but some form of professional training through a college program or workshop can help photographers build and expand their skills and technical knowledge. The following table outlines common requirements for food photographers as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
|Degree Level||A degree is not required, but a bachelor's degree or alternative formal training can increase job prospects and creative/technical skills|
|Key Skills||Strong artistic skills and an eye for detail for arranging and framing photographs|
|Computer Skills||Knowledge of digital cameras, computer editing software and digital printing|
|Additional Requirements||Interpersonal skills, business and marketing knowledge|
Step 1: Earn a Degree in Photography
Earning a degree in photography, at either the undergraduate or graduate level, can serve as the first step toward beginning a career in food photography. A college program will teach an aspiring food photographer how to creatively arrange and frame a photograph, as well as how to properly operate a digital camera. College photography programs will also include courses in lighting, composition, editing and printing photographs, all of which will benefit food photographers in their work after graduation. Holding a degree in photography may also increase job opportunities for food photographers when listed on a resume.
- Take business and marketing courses. The BLS recommends that prospective photographers take business, marketing and accounting elective courses during their time in college. These elective courses will teach students how to effectively run, manage and market a food photography business. If a photographer is planning to run his or her own business or freelance, these courses will be particularly beneficial.
Step 2: Participate in a Food Photography Workshop
A food photography workshop can be taken in addition to earning a photography degree or as an alternative to college, though amateur photographers with no formal training may benefit from a workshop more than a degree holder. Food photography workshops focus solely on teaching photographers how to photograph food in a visually appealing way. There are several professional photographers who offer food photography workshops nationally and internationally. Some workshops are even offered online. Food photography workshops can run like traditional classes and meet weekly, while others are destination-workshops that include lodging and daily class meetings.
- Practice at home. Even introductory food photography workshops require students to possess basic knowledge of operating a digital camera. Before enrolling in a workshop, prospective food photographers should practice at home and familiarize themselves with the basic functions of shooting a digital camera in manual mode.
Step 3: Build a Portfolio
A portfolio exhibiting a photographer's best work is essential. Food photographers should always have both a print and digital copy of their portfolio to show to potential clients or employers. Food photographers may even choose to set up their own website to display their best work.
- Take high quality images. Images used in a portfolio should always be taken in the best quality possible to showcase the photographer's true talent.
- Include some variety. Food photographers should include photographs of a variety of foods taken at different angles to accurately reflect their versatility as a photographer or to capture their own unique style.
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