For over fifteen years, my wife and I have been supporting our family with home-based food businesses, including Food Photography. Food photography was a natural progression of two of my favorite hobbies, photography and cooking.
Maybe it will be the same for you and you can make some extra money every month with food photography just as I do.
But first, what is A Food Photography Business? A Food Photography Business is a business that provides the service of taking photographs of various food products for use by others. Clients of Food Photographers include publishers, food producers, restaurants, and more.
Let’s dig into the details of what this kind of food business really is and if you can start a Food Photography Business from home.
A More Complete Description of A Food Photographer’s Business
At its core, this business model is simply offering the service of taking and editing great pictures of food that other people are going to want to use for their own food-related businesses.
You are going to be surprised at how many people buy the work of Food Photographers.
Food Photographers sell their work to:
- Food Bloggers as stock photos
- Other Online Publishers as stock photos
- Recipe Designers
- Cookbook Authors
- Local Restaurants
- Local Grocery Stores
- Marketing and Advertising Firms
Offering Your Food Photography as Stock Photography
As I said before, I enjoy photography as a hobby and have since I was just a kid. I received my first decent camera as a gift when I was about 13, and have taken pictures ever since.
Then when our first baby was born, my family upgraded my camera so they could have better pictures of their grandson. That’s when I started selling stock photos, including pictures of food and other items that businesses and marketers need to do their jobs.
The cool thing about selling stock images is that once you get a photograph up on a stock photo site, it just sits there and continues earning month after month and year after year.
I have food photos that have earned me hundreds of dollars over the last decade. Other photos have earned me $75 in one purchase and then appeared on a billboard!
My stock photos are the best kind of side hustle for me; a hobby I love that brings in some extra income every month will build on the skills that I use in my other food-related businesses. I love it.
To be completely honest, I don’t believe you can make a lot of money selling stock photography, but I do believe you can make a nice side income doing what I do…enjoying a hobby and building skills.
With those better skills, you can move into some of the other ways to make money as a home-based food photographer.
P.S. If you want to hear more about how I sell my stock photos, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I really want to write that article, but it will get moved up my list if I know some people are waiting for it.
Offering Food Photography As a Service To Recipe Designers & Cookbook Authors
The next step that I took with my home-based food photography business was to offer to take pictures for other online entrepreneurs.
We did this mostly in conjunction with working as recipe designers and working as recipe testers.
You can find this kind of work on many freelance sites.
Food Photographer for Local Businesses
This is where you can start making some real money as a food photographer.
We’ve all been to local restaurants that have less than appetizing pictures of their food on their walls, in their menus, and even in their advertisements.
Once you have a portfolio of good food pictures, approaching these businesses gets a lot easier. A gig like this can often get you a few hundred dollars or more, and if you play it right, discount or free food for a long time!
I love shooting for local businesses. That’s building your local name recognition and network that will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
Food Photography for Magazine and Marketing Firms – The Big Money
I’m not at this point, and I never will be. That’s because it’s just not the path for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not your path.
If you want to take your home-based Food Photography Business to a full-time job where you’re getting paid thousands per shoot, I’d encourage you to start with one or more of the smaller versions of this business that I outlined above.
To get your first big food photography gig, you’re going to need a portfolio of amazing food pictures and you might as well be making some extra cash while you practice your skills and build that portfolio.
You’re also going to need a solid marketing plan to build your photography brand, but that’s a discussion for another article. P.S. If you’re waiting for that article, let me know in the comments below. ~Stacey
Alternate Names for A Food Photographer Business
- Freelance Food Photographer
- Gig Food Photographer
- Food Photo Editor
Pros of Starting A Food Photography Business
- High demand for this service as a freelancer.
- Is a high-value skill for any other home-based food business you might start.
- Operating expenses are very low.
- Works well as a small startup that can scale up over time.
- As you build an inventory of food pictures, that inventory can continue to make money for your month-after-month for years.
Cons of Starting A Food Photography Business From Home
- Moderate startup costs in that you need at least a decent camera (or smartphone), photo-editing software, lighting, and props.
- It can be an ongoing upgrade cost if you really love photography. Every photographer that I know is always jonesing for their next piece of equipment.
- Short of working for other businesses, the amount you’ll make from each picture is not large. However, the cost of making each photograph is nearly free, except for your time. As you get better, the time it takes to create a food photo goes way down.
|Cost To Startup (Scale: $ to $$$$$)||$$|
|Full Income or Side Hustle||Side Hustle|
|Income Potential (Scale: $ to $$$$$)||$$$|
|Profit Margin (Scale: 📈 to 📈📈📈📈📈)||📈📈📈📈📈|
|Time To Build (Scale: ⏰ to ⏰⏰⏰⏰⏰)||⏰⏰⏰|
|Time To Run (Scale: ⏰ to ⏰⏰⏰⏰⏰)||⏰|
|Complexity to Run (Scale: 🤹 to 🤹🤹🤹🤹🤹)||🤹🤹|
Cost to Startup A Home-Based Food Photography Business
A Food Photography Business can be started up on a shoestring budget if that’s what you need to do.
With just a smartphone with a good camera and some free photo-editing software, you could be on your way to submitting stock food photos for food-bloggers to purchase for use on their websites.
Of course, you’ll have a better product (pictures of food), if you have a better camera, lighting, and editing software.
Still, if you start like I did, you start with the most free stuff that you can find and then bootstrap yourself up to the cool tools of the photography trade.
P.S. If you want me to take some time to list out the free resources that I recommend, let me know in the comments below.~Stacey
Is A Food Photography Business a Side-Hustle or A Full-Time Home-Based Business?
Honestly, for the vast majority of food photographers, this is a side-hustle business.
But, it’s a great side-hustle business if you enjoy photography and food. What’s better than making some extra cash doing something you love? And don’t forget that turning a loved hobby into a bonified home-based business might have some significant tax benefits (but check with your tax professional).
To be clear, I’m not saying that this can’t be a full-time business, but if you reach that level you have over-achieved most of your food photographer peers.
If you don’t have an established photography business, I’d encourage you to start this as a side-hustle and grow into what it should be for you.
How Much Money Can You Make As a Food Photographer?
As a home-based food photographer you can make somewhere between a few bucks a month and a good living. It just depends on how much you are going to put into it.
But just because I started it to support my other food businesses didn’t stop me from making food photography a nice side-hustle. I have dozens of food pictures on a number of stock photo sites, and I sell pictures on those sites every month.
I’m not getting rich on those pictures, but they are buying me dinner a few times a year and I’ve not put a second of work into them for years.
If my other businesses slow down, I’ll spend some time offering more stock photos for sale and I know I can increase my monthly sales in just a few days of work because I already have thousands of pictures I could edit and offer.
I don’t believe that I could make a full-time living as a Food Photographer, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t. I do believe that I could get up to a a few hundred a month in just stock photos pretty quickly.
I’ve also made as much as $500 for a single food photo shoot at local restaurants and I’m sure I could book those more regularly if I put the marketing effort in.
What Is The Profit Margin For A Food Photography Business?
Your overhead in a business like this is insanely small.
In the age of digital photography, once you have the equipment and software, your cost to create a new product (a picture) is nearly nothing. Sure, you’re going to invest your time, but there are nearly no cost of goods involved.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Food Photography Business?
This isn’t a fast start-up business.
If you start by selling stock images, it’s going to take time to build your inventory.
If you start by offering gig service as a freelancer, its going to take time to build a repeat clientele. And even before you can start trying to do that, you are going to need a portfolio to show potential clients (Hint: Build that portfolio by selling Stock Images).
Don’t expect to make a lot of money as a home-based Food Photographer for at least six months, and probably more. But if this is a side-hustle based upon a hobby you love, just sit back and enjoy the ride!
Time to Run A Food Photography Business From Home
This business is totally flexible. Sure, once you start booking gigs with local restaurants you’ll have some time commitments, but until then you can run your home-based Food Photography business when you want.
Heck, I often edit food pics while I’m watching TV.
Complexity to Run A Food Photography Business
This isn’t a complex business.
Sure you need to know where to sell your stock food pics.
And, yes, you’ll need a marketing plan to get gigs with specific food bloggers.
If you want to shoot for local restaurants, you’ll need a good set of marketing and proposal documents to start with.
But if you need a little more help with these things, let me know in the comments or via email.
Do You Need Employees To Run a Food Photography Business?
You do not need any employees to run a Food Photography Business. Honesty, I’m not sure why you’d ever need employees in this food business idea.
I guess that you might someday reach a point where you want a Personal Assistant to help you run your social media profiles that will help you grow your brand and your business.
However, that’s a long way down the road, and when you reach that time, I’ll save you a lot of pain and provide you with a course that shares what I’ve learned about employing virtual personal assistants. Let me know in the comments if you’re ready for help hiring a personal assistant.
I love being a Food Photographer.
But to be honest, I’m not great at it. Though I’m a good photographer, I’m not a great photographer. I don’t have a great eye for staging a table to make my food pics pop. And my photo editing skills are pretty basic despite the fact that I use some pretty good software.
Instead of disappointing you, that admission should inspire you!
If a half-ass Food Photographer like me can make some extra money on the side selling food-porn stock images, do all of my own food blog and recipe book images, and even occasionally do a local business photo shot, imagine what you can do!
If you love photography and food, just get started today with your home-based Food Photography business and enjoy the journey!