What to know about working with a food photographer?

woman eating a salad

Most of us have worked with a professional photographer at some stages of our lives. Before I became a photographer myself, I had worked with a product photographer to shoot some visual content for my hamper business. I had booked a wedding photographer to capture the highlights of our wedding and a lifestyle photographer to capture some branding shots for my business back then. I didn’t know anything about working with a food photographer though.

To me, a photographer has always been the one to create magic. And now, being a food and product photographer myself, I hope my customers feel the same way about me.

How to find a food photographer?

It may have been hard to find photographers specialised in photographing food years ago but nowadays finding a food photographer is as easy as booking a same day flight to Singapore. In the end, your choice comes down to your taste. As they say: “art is in the eye of the viewer,” therefore there may be hundreds of food photographers out there but if you like someone’s specific style, you have found yourself a winner. I also like to read the “About” section and prefer photographers who have a story to tell or they actually align with what they do, instead of just photographing food because they like to eat.

Decisions, decisions…

BUT, not everyone makes their choices based on style and taste, and often people just book someone because they’re charging less than their competitor. Whilst money is certainly an object, you should never book a photographer because they charge less than others in the business. Yes, everyone can get the job done but will they do a good job – that is the question.

Photography is an art form, and like any other art form, it takes talent, skill, and experience to produce high-quality results. A photographer who has been in the business for years and has a track record of producing stunning images is likely to be worth more than a new photographer who is just starting out and may not have the same level of skill and experience.

One way to look for food photographers in your local area is to do a brief search on Instagram and Google. I am confident you’re sure to find a good selection of professionals for you to short list and reach out to. Alternatively, the word of mouth remains to be the powerful way of finding specialists so ask for recommendations in your local Facebook groups.

What to know about engaging a food photographer for your project?

If it’s your first time working with a food photographer, there are a few things to note before reaching out to your chosen photographer. The more information you include in your email about the shoot, the better.

  1. Food Photographer wants to know what is the scope of your project i.e is the goal to shoot the new menu of your restaurant/cafe/bar? Are you needing a bunch of visual content for your socials or do you need to shoot recipes for a magazine, book or a blog feature? Or perhaps you are working on and ad campaign that will end up on a billboard. How many dishes, items do you need photographed? That’s all vital information.
  2. Do you have a budget for your project or are you just gathering quotes?
  3. Where are you planning to use the images? This information lets the photographer know in what size and orientation they need to shoot the images and also whether they need to quote on additional licensing.
  4. What is your expected output from the shoot? i. e images in both 4×5 and 1×1 orientation, a mix of landscape and portrait shots, video footage, stop motions, and any specific number of images you’re after. This helps the photographer with planning their shoot time and any time spent in editing.
  5. Include a short mood board. Adding up to 5 images as inspiration will help the photographer to better understand the style and mood of photos you are after. You can always create a board in Pinterest or if you are experienced with Canva, it takes no time to whip up a quick mood board in Canva.

Next steps…

After finding a photographer you like, you’re likely to have a brief meeting in person or via Zoom/Google Meet and discuss the details of your shoot in more detail. That is the opportunity for you to ask any questions about the process and timeline and hear the thoughts of a photographer. Whilst you may have ideas how you want your shoot to take place, photographer may have other ideas and make some suggestions for changes. Remember, a successful photoshoot is a collaboration.

Formalities matter

Once you have met with your chosen food photographer, next you’re likely to receive a Photography Agreement. Photo agreement will list roles and responsibilities for both parties, you as the client and the photographer. Most commercial photographers require half of the agreed fee to be paid as a deposit on booking and the balance to be paid on delivery of the goods. Whilst you may have your own accounting procedures established that see you paying bills after job has been completed, photographers are often sole traders who depend on their bills being paid on time and as per their payment terms. Us, photographers, don’t have fixed pay days. The bill we send you, is our next pay day.

Deposit paid? Now you’re on the roll and you can collaboratively start working on specific shots you want to achieve from your shoot day. The more work you and the photographer put into pre-planning, the more you’re likely you are to achieve the desired content you have visualised for your shoot.

Shoot Day

By shoot day you should have a clear understanding what is about to happen, what type of content is going to be created and who’s doing what.

Now you can relax and trust the photographer to do its best work yet.


Finding a quality food photographer is easier than you think. But if you understand the process of working with a food photographer, you will come across more professional and save the photographer a lot of time as well. Who knows, you may even be your photographer’s dream client. ☺️

Want to see me in action? Check out my portfolio to see more of my work or follow me on Instagram to get regular updates of what I do.

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“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body: it’s truly love.

Giada De Laurentiis

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