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Discover a Day in the Life of a Food Photographer

In this blog, we explore a day in the life of a food photographer who takes photos of different foods for her clients to help them promote their restaurants and menu items.

18 Sep 2023
EIT Food West
5 min reading time

Our EIT Food Day in the Life series is an educational resource aimed at young people and professionals who are interested in the agrifood job market. We profile a wide range of careers in the agrifood sector, interviewing professionals to find out what their job is like, why it is important, and how you could take up the profession.

You will learn:

  • What a typical day is like as a food photographer
  • The main responsibilities of a food photographer
  • Why this industry matters to our wider food system
  • How you can take up this career path

Meet Vivi Pham, a self-employed, professional food photographer based in Brussels, Belgium.

Vivi tells us about her job as a food photographer and how you can train to become one too.

What does a typical day as a Food Photographer look like?

“Each day is very different because I can be doing so many different things as a self-employed, professional photographer. I will prepare photoshoots and carry out the photoshoots, and then once the photoshoot is done, I would edit the pictures and make sure the pictures are as nice as possible”.

Vivi usually visits restaurants to take new photographs when there are menu changes, which includes capturing pictures of the food and plates, but also the staff working and preparing the food as she finds it very interesting being in the kitchen. She uses different angles and different places in the restaurant to conduct her photography so the people who see the images can “have a feel of the cuisine but also the vibe of the restaurant and the atmosphere”.

Although Vivi specialises in food photography, she also takes portraits of her clients as “it’s very important to show that it’s not only about the foods, but also about the people who are behind the beautiful dishes” giving those working in the food industry the recognition they deserve.

Vivi also has a small studio at home that she has set up with different props that can help to enhance the food, which she can use for at home photoshoots for professional and personal photography.

All food photographers have their own preferred style depending on what they like. “Some people like a lot of colours and contrast, other food photographers like me prefer soft contrast and soft colours” which is important when choosing a food photographer and deciding if their style and settings are suitable for your desired imagery outcome.

Photos that Vivi takes can then be used on social media to share with the world and promote her own business, as well as other businesses, depending on what images she takes and who for.

What inspired you to become a Food Photographer?

“What inspired me to become a food photographer was actually a bit of everything because it kind of happened without me really wanting to become a food photographer”.

What started out as Vivi taking pictures of food for fun, turned into a business when people expressed their enjoyment for her work and how they wanted to pay for Vivi’s services. At that point, Vivi realised she had the potential to do something that she truly loves as a career.

How does this career benefit the wider food system?

Food photographers are incredibly important to the wider food system as they are the people who can tell a story through a picture. Food photographers capture images of delicious foods that can be used for branding, marketing and promotional use, which helps businesses and restaurants to gain recognition, whilst inspiring the community to try new delicious products. Food photographers influence others to try new cuisines, capture their own images and potentially go further and leave reviews, which again, benefits the wider food industry.

How can I get involved in this area? What are the pathways into this role?

There are many pathways you can take to become a food photographer. Many universities and colleges across the world now offer photography courses and degrees that will teach you everything you need to know about capturing high standard photos and how to utilise them further, helping you to step foot into the photography world.

Although, you don’t necessarily need to take the education route in order to become a food photographer. Vivi recommends practicing taking photos of your food in your spare time, “You don’t have to be a cook to take pictures of your own food, you can just go and grab a takeout and take pictures of that, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy”.

“Sometimes people think that it’s very complicated to do food photography. People often mention McDonalds burgers, or those fancy big ads where everything is fake but actually you can do food photography just as natural as possible, you don’t need to fake it”.

Vivi also recommends contacting professional photographers for advice and work experience because “Everyone is always happy to have someone to just help in the studio or at a photoshoot”.

There is no specific style you must follow for food photography and therefore you should go with what you like. “There’s room for everyone (in the industry), as everyone will like a different style”.

What is your favourite thing about being a Food Photographer?

“The best part of my job is that I get to eat really yummy food first of all, but also that I get to meet a lot of people, very passionate and interesting people in restaurants and in the food industry."

Vivi describes her job in three words: creativity, diversity and flexibility.

About EIT Food’s Day in The Life series

EIT Food’s Day in the Life Series is a video series that explores the variety of careers that our agrifood system has to offer. The aim of the series is to raise awareness of the range of high-skilled and highly rewarding jobs that the food and farming sector has to offer and inspire younger generations to consider one of these careers for themselves.

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