Food Photographer

Take close-ups of scrumptious salads, soups, and entres for menus or ads.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$17,000 – $63,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Food Photographers do?

Do you want to make people’s mouths water like Pavlov’s dog? Become a Food Photographer, and you’ll master the art of activating those salivary glands. The close-up shots of a Food Photographer will make the popcorn pop, the champagne bubble, and the cookies crumble—all on the two-dimensional surface of a cookbook cover, magazine page, or food package.

Your challenge as a Food Photographer is to bring out the visual elements of the food in order to evoke reactions from the other senses: smell, taste, touch, maybe even sound. To get the desired effects, you’ll obsess over details like the number of blueberries on top of a bowl of cereal, the shadow cast by a hamburger bun, and the angle that the light hits the side of a slice of cheesecake. You use advanced skills in lighting, shutter speed, zoom, and flash to make the food look exceptional.

It’s not purely about the food. Usually with a team that includes a Food Stylist, you incorporate techniques (even inedible chemicals) to make food look fresh, and background objects that complement the textures, colors, and mood of the picture.

When photographing food for packaging and advertisements, you will not have as much creative freedom, because the Art Director or Photo Stylist will already know what they want the product to look like. If your client is a magazine or cookbook, on the other hand, it’s high art. You can fully express your vision of a particular dish, and edit the photo yourself for perfect composition.

Should I be a Food Photographer?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Food Photographer

    Most Food Photographers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9cddaa&chl=no+college+%2864%25%29|certificate+%2829%25%29|associate%27s+%284%25%29|bachelor%27s+%284%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,64,64
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