The other day I met a person who asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I was a food photographer he rolled his eyes. I asked him why he was rolling his eyes and he told me everyone claims to be a food photographer.
My first reaction, I was a bit off-put. After all, I am a professional food photographer with 17 years of experience, I have done major campaigns for advertising agencies, hundreds of package design images, cookbooks, editorials and out of home campaigns. At one point I had billboards, phone kiosks, truck wraps and the Reuters sign in time square all running my images at the same time. If you ever walked into a deli or supermarket in the past 10 years you have seen my Boar’s Head posters.
Then I thought about what he said and it really began to sink in, everyone is a food photographer. They have their phone and they take photos of food and post them on Facebook and Instagram and filter them and they look really cool. So what makes me so special? Amateurs are nailing it all over the place on social media, why would anyone want to still hire me when their brother can snap a plate of salmon and bam… 10,000 likes.
All kidding aside, what I provide for the people who understand the value in my service is very simple, I provide a piece of mind. My clients understand that they are hiring a professional who can create the end result in my mind and then execute that result for them in the form a photograph. It is very easy to take food photos with a phone or a digital SLR and get some amazing results. The point of differentiation is that I have the ability to create a professional result each and every time regardless of the location, obstacle or circumstance.
The difference between and amateur and a professional food photographer is that with a professional there are no happy accidents. We plan our shots, compose them, use lighting, introduce props and have the images professionally styled or style them ourselves professionally. When a client hires me they do so because I know how to get the result they want before I even pick up the camera. There is no guessing, I have put in my 10,000 hours of training and I can walk into any situation confident that I will deliver quality food and drink images each and every time.
I am happy to call myself a professional food photographer and there is plenty of room in the world for food photographers of every variety. If you want your results guaranteed then my advice is to stick with the professionals.