How To Make Money Through Photography – When I started freelancing, I didn’t really think about how I would get paid. But looking back over the years, I realized that there are many different ways to make money as a food photographer.
Of course, it cannot be denied that there are people who only earned 6 (or even 7 figures) from the photo commission. (The reason – they charge more)
How To Make Money Through Photography
But for many of us to make a living (or a decent amount to justify what we’ve done to our family… wink, wink), we will need a few different ways to make money as a food photographer.
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Here is a quick list of the best ways to make money doing food photography and how you can leverage your photography income.
When it comes to ways to make money as a food photographer, isn’t that a no-brainer? Earn money to take pictures of damn delicious food. But food photography can sometimes feel like a very small world. Luckily, with the ease of social media and access to beautiful websites, everyone wants to join the action of having beautiful images on their sites.
If you’re feeling immersed in food photography, pair it with portraits of chefs and food influencers. Food also goes well with travel photography. Adding these feathers to your hat can give you more gigs and a competitive edge. (Maybe I should take my own advice!)
Also, don’t be afraid to shoot anything other than food. Be responsible for your journey. No one cares if you hit everything. They just care if your style matches their brief.
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Sometimes clients already have a relationship with a photographer, but they love your style. So they can reach you to do just the shaping part of the job. Still one of my favorite ways to make money as a food photographer.
A word of warning though. Being able to style doesn’t automatically qualify you as a food stylist. A food stylist goes beyond knowing how to cook and tan. It’s best to check what they expect to make sure you can deliver to the customer.
I have regular ‘style only’ gigs and although they do pre-production, not having to post-production is sometimes a dream!
Passive income is the best. You already have work that you create, shoot and produce. Customers will want to use it because it works well for their brand, article or story.
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If you have a good job bank that you can hire with a stockbroker, you can make some extra cash on hand while they do the work for you.
Personally, I tend to get license queries via Pinterest and license directly with the client by cutting the middleman. I will take a larger cut, but my work may not be seen by many seeking licenses. Having both options can serve you well.
We, who are food photographers, are a talented bunch, aren’t we? If you have a website or social channel and a unique story to tell, at some point someone will want to hire you to create content. Whether it’s a blog series, a recipe, design, social media takeover, or a video series, I’ve heard of many ways to make money as photographers can leverage content creation to get paid.
High volume blogs will also outsource their content creation, so browsing job boards like Pro Blogger and sites like UpWork can sometimes be leverage. There may be other ways to earn money on these boards that you come across. Let me know if you do!
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Affiliate commission comes in all shapes and sizes. A blog post has the classic ‘buy this’ link that can get you a small cut of the sale price of that item. It works wonders for high-traffic and expensive items, but for low-ticket items like spice mix for a recipe you’re creating, it can prove to be trashy.
But fear not, I think the affiliate commission should be for the products you believe in and use. You can partner with bigger brands, other bloggers or influencers to add some affiliate commission to your bottom line.
One caveat, though, is that if affiliate commission is your only strategy, you may not be adding value to your customers or community. When considering ways to make money as a food photographer, it’s important to strike a balance between providing value and getting paid for promotion.
Sponsorship is all too common in the social media world if your iPhone has been broken for the past three years. I can’t scroll 10 seconds (#legit) on Instagram without seeing a sponsored post. Sponsored posts are really just ads that aren’t very expensive.
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Here you get paid to partner with a brand (hopefully a brand you believe in) and promote their products through your photos. It usually includes how you use it or create a recipe.
Like affiliate promotions, always promoting other products can devalue your brand. It’s best to come to this with a ‘less is more’ approach. Make fewer sponsored posts and get paid more. Remember to add value to your target audience and customers.
If you love editing and… I love it too (which is why I created my Lightroom Magic e-course EDIT SECRETS to create food photography you’ll be proud of), then you can get started with editing through a site like UpWork.
I took on editorial duties from time to time. Things I usually enjoy are simple post processing or photoshop modifications/manipulations to keep my head in the game. This is especially good if you are a part-time freelancer who needs a slightly more stable income. Meeting with a busy photographer to take over their edits can fill that gap. Not for this ‘just cause’ crowd. Most photographers will want to pursue and maintain a relationship. It’s for the long haul.
Ways To Make Money With Photography
Create stunning food photography images in Lightroom with these EDITING SECRETS to create food photography you’ll be proud of. Convert your RAW files to POW files. Say goodbye to plain and boring images. Click to learn more.
It’s harder to come by but can definitely be part of your income mix. Occasionally, jobs may come up for recipes/cookbooks where the upfront budget is tight until some cash arrives. You can make a deal to waive an upfront fee for royalties down the road.
The percentage often seems ridiculous, but multiply my thousands of copies sold and you may be looking for a good commission for the next few years. It comes with a risk aspect depending on the quantity sold, but it can also pay off.
The first cookbook I pulled was royalty-free and has been providing myself and the author with a nice 5 figures for the past few years. Bonus money that’s what I call it!
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It seems like everyone is doing these these days, and if you’re doing them for money, you may be shocked to know that most workshops don’t return a ton of money. They are often very costly to run and there are certainly overheads to running a food photography workshop. (Great wig photographers can charge a mint for their status, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be prepared to wait a few years before seeing this kind of comeback)
However, it’s a great way to connect with your creative friend and earn a few extra bucks. You may even have another special skill you can teach. Like a creative friend Laura E Patrick. Killer food photographer and calligrapher. Now, if there is no workshop idea, I don’t know what is.
It is indeed different from workshops. Coaching services are more lucrative as they tend to be one-on-one and provide personalized advice. Which means… you guessed it. More than those dollars, all of you dollar bills.
You will always have fans or admirers of your work, people who want to know exactly how you do things. With the ease of the internet and connectivity, don’t be surprised if someone reaches out to you for a session.
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Just be sure to remember that more money always means more value. Whether this is tangible or not, you’ll want to make sure your students or mentees get value from you.
As you continue your freelance photography journey, you will begin to realize that you have more sources of income than you thought possible. The key is to take a look at ways to make money with minimal effort.
Any real pain and energy drain may not be worth it to anyone. Then you can eliminate them and focus on what’s valuable (and what you enjoy doing).
What’s your favorite or most surprising way to monetize your food photography? If you’ve recently found an activity that’s more hassle than it’s worth – drop me a comment below. I would like to hear from you
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Two Love Studios (previous value)
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