If you’ve been doing food photography for a while then you’ve probably spent a lot of time and money on buying gear and learning your craft.
If you’ve only seen food photography as an expensive hobby, then read on to find out the ways that you can start to make money from your food photography.
Stock Photography Websites
If you’ve been doing photography for a while you could already be sitting on a load of photos that could potentially be making you money. You could do this by selling your images to stock photo websites.
This method is best for people who might dislike working directly with clients as you just upload to the stock photo sites and let them bring in the money for you.
Essentially what you do is sign up to a stock photo website, submit your photos and then allow the stock photo website to sell those images on to people who may want to use those photos for their own commercial projects.
For example, you are a chef who is about to create a cookbook and you need some stock images of various ingredients, but you don’t have access to a photographer and it’s not really something you are able to do yourself.
You can go onto stock photo websites to search for images that you can use in your cookbook, pay a price to have a license to use them and your problem is solved.
When these stock images are bought and used, the stock photo website and the photographer who submitted the photo will each get a share of profits. The share that you get when the images are used varies from site to site and different sites also have varying levels of vetting procedures.
Since some sites are harder to get accepted into compared to others, you should check out what they are looking for before diving deep into it.
In general with stock photos, the goal is to go for high volume as this gives you a higher chance of having your images used. But, you also need to keep the quality up or nobody will use them.
Here are some popular stock photography platforms that you can use to submit your stock images:
- OFFset by Shutterstock
- Adobe Stock
- Stock Food ** Specifically for food photography**
- Getty Images
A key thing to know about stock photography is that you probably won’t be making a large income overnight.
It’s definitely a long game, but some people have turned it into a lucrative way of generating passive income overtime.
Commissioned Work for Agencies or Clients
When someone needs images for a project, if they don’t go to a stock photo site they will either go to an agency or direct to a photographer to carry out work for them.
If they go to an agency, the agency will normally have either in house photographers or a shortlist of freelance photographers that they work with regularly.
Either way a photographer is needed and this is where you come in.
Examples of work in the food photography business can include:
- Recipe images for cookbooks
- Restaurant/bar/cafe menus
- Food magazines
- Advertising e.g. for billboards
To get into certain agencies you should try to see the work they currently do and see if you are a good match for them. Each agency may have their own style and that’s what makes clients use them. Try to find an agency that matches your style to increase your chances of becoming part of their in house team or their shortlist of go to photographers.
Attracting clients will take work on your end to drum up business. There are various ways you can gain interest for clients, but here are just some examples:
- Going to trade shows
- Word of mouth
- Putting your work out there on social media
- Cold calling businesses
- Advertising your services (both online/offline ads)
This is for those of you that are quite experienced in food photography. When starting out in photography it can be quite hard to make sense of all the information out there and for some people going to a workshop is their preferred way of learning.
Workshops can sometimes seem expensive for the ticket price, but they can also be expensive to run when you factor in all the costs to run one.
How much you charge and how much you make will depend a lot on the number of people attending, the amount of content or length of workshop and of course how reputable you are in the industry.
If you are not super well known or reputable then you can always team up with someone who is. Perhaps you are good at logistics and setting everything up while your partner can be the selling point of the workshop.
Another benefit of workshops is that they are great for networking with other like minded people.
This one will come under client/agency work, but it is one of the revenue models that could be used as your payment.
When there are projects that cost a lot to produce, but don’t have a guaranteed or instant income then clients may opt to offer you royalties instead. In this case, rather than paying you a large upfront sum of money for your work they may offer to pay you over time for each unit sold.
For example, if you did the cover of a cookbook then the publisher of the cookbook might say that for every book sold they will pay you a small sum so you receive a share of profits due to your photographic work.
Royalties can be great if the product sells well and can be a great source of passive income over time.
On the other hand, if the product is a dud you could end up being severely underpaid for work that is already done.
Provide an Editing Service for Other Photographers
When it comes to food photography you might love editing and doing all the post production on your photos to make everything look extra delicious. But, there are also photographers that can’t stand the thought of doing post-production work and would much rather just deal with lighting and snapping the picture.
This is where you can step in and provide a service. You can become a service for people that like to outsource their post-production process. The great thing about this is that once you have built a relationship with one photographer then they are likely to use you going forward as they may grow to like your style and want to stick to it for consistency.
Providing a service as an editor is perfect for those who dislike being in the studio all the time and dealing with clients face to face. Since you don’t necessarily have to be there for the shoot it is also great if you prefer to do remote work as you can work from wherever you have access to your editing software.
Sponsored Posts With Brands
If you have been consistent with creating and posting your photography on the web, whether that’s in the form of social media or on a food blog, you could stand to make some money with big brands by making sponsored content for them.
Sponsored content is when a brand will ask you to create some engaging content to show off their product if they feel that your audiences are aligned. At the end of it all, the brand will pay you a sum for an agreed amount/type of content produced.
For this, of course you will need a substantial following before you will start to be approached by big brands. But don’t forget that there are always smaller brands out there that are looking for affordable personalities to work with. The key to this is getting your name out there and building relationships with brands you believe in.
The best thing to aim for here is to have a following with a targeted audience. Whenever a brand wants to work with influencers to make sponsored posts, they want to know that their money is going to be well spent and targeted. E.g. it wouldn’t make sense for an alcoholic drinks company to advertise to a group of people that strictly drink non-alcoholic drinks.
At the same time you need to make sure that you only work with brands that you actually align with and support. There’s no point in creating a sponsored post for Baileys showcasing the types of desserts you could make if you don’t like Baileys.
This is another one for those of you who are building an audience or have already built one. You might not realise it, but when you are recommending products you could be making a small commission off of it even without it being a sponsored post. All of this can be done at no cost to your audience and sometimes they even get a discount for doing so!
If we take the example of someone who is focused on creating a food blog that is specifically for recipes that use a slow cooker. You might have tried a few slow cookers over time and realised which are better for certain recipes or perhaps have a personal favourite.
You can then get an affiliate link from places like Amazon for that product and if someone clicks on that link from your site and then goes and buys that product then you will get a small percentage of that sale price as a commission from Amazon.
Other examples can be things like courses or software where you may make a deal with the course provider so that anybody who uses a discount code tailored to you will get a discount and then every sale made with that will also result in you receiving a small payment.
Affiliate marketing is amazing because it not only supports creators, but you can make use of it without making your audience pay more money.
Make Your Own E-book or Cookbook and Sell It
If you are an amazing cook as well as a food photographer you could make your own cookbook, do all the photos yourself and publish it online to receive an income whenever somebody purchases that cookbook.
Alternatively if you are more just a food photographer and less of a cook then you could create a short e-book that teaches people about food photography.
It could cover very specific techniques or it could be a broad guide. In general, you should focus on things that you are more of an expert on.
Perhaps you are really talented and skilled at the business side of food photography, or maybe you are highly knowledgeable about the post production side of food photography. Whatever it is, make sure you follow what you are good at so you can create something of value for readers.
E-books are good because there is low cost to making them compared to physical books and once they are made and marketed they can keep bringing a residual income in for you.
…and that’s it!
Here’s a summary of the popular ways to make money from food photography:
- Stock Photography Websites
- Commissioned Work for Agencies or Clients
- Teaching Workshops
- Provide an Editing Service for Other Photographers
- Sponsored Posts With Brands
- Affiliate Marketing
- Make Your Own E-book or Cookbook and Sell It
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