Running your own food photography business can be a daunting process at times. I know, I’ve been there, but it’s a rewarding process and after reflecting on the last 10 years I wanted to share the key messages I’ve learned along the way.
Wherever you are in your journey, maybe you are thinking of starting your own food photo business and need some inspiration or maybe you are already in the thick of it and are looking for guidance, either way, here are 10 things that I’ve learned over 10 years of running my own business.
Tip 1: Turn a No Into a Yes for Your Food Photography Business
The first thing is that a no can become a yes. I’ve reached out to clients and I’ve heard ‘no’ many times. If you want it badly enough you can turn that no into a yes.
They may say we don’t have room for you, or they don’t even work that way. But six months, nine months later (sometimes even three years later) I’ve been able to turn that no into a yes!
Now, maybe you don’t want to hear that it can take months or years, but the thing you want to remember is that if this is your business long-term, all the work you do today can lead to work in the future.
Tip 2: Your Mindset Matters The Most
Your mindset actually matters more than your photos.
Now I know that sounds crazy because we get paid to take photos, but if our mindset is not in check, we can self-sabotage. We can doubt ourselves. We can let imposter syndrome, drive our decisions. Being creative is hard, and there’s a lot to unpack in terms of mental health.
One thing I’ve noticed in my food photography business is that it’s not the best photographers who succeed. It’s those people who believed in themselves, those who kept showing up, and who worked on their mindset. This is also true for many creative fields.
Now we’re all human and we feel the same things. So if you feel like things aren’t working for you, maybe check if your mindset needs to be worked on.
Tip 3: Diversifying Your Income.
It’s hard to make a full-time living from your creative pursuits and stress and pressure is not a good thing for creativity. So I think how you survive in the long-term is by diversifying your income.
That can look so different depending on what you want to do. With your creative business, you could:
- Sell digital products, like courses or eBooks.
- Start your own blog and earn income through advertising revenue, affiliates, and sponsored posts.
- You could even have a totally different job which could be part-time if you want.
There are so many different ways that you could approach this thing.
Tip 4: What’s the worst that can happen?
I used to be terrified when I first started my food photography business, but what can be the worst thing that would happen. Literally, the worst thing that could happen is you take a photography job when you don’t get paid because the client’s not happy.
So when you feel fearful of doing new things, ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? Then you can ask yourself, is it worth taking that risk?
I can tell you nine and a half times out of 10, you can actually sort things out with the client. And often the worst that you think will happen will never actually happen.
Tip 5: Manage Your Time Wisely
This tip may sound simple but consistency is key. It is almost impossible to get everything you want done in a day but if you keep showing up, you keep working as much as you can, you’ll be astounded at what you can achieve within your food photography business in 10 years time.
Tip 6: You Are Your Best Investment
Invest in yourself. You are your best asset.
It took me years to figure that out. I didn’t feel worthy of investing in myself. It’s one thing I wish I’d changed because I’m never going to get that time back. Whether it’s investing in camera gear or taking courses, invest in yourself because nobody else will.
Tip 7: Get Comfortable Saying No
It is okay to say no. When I first started out, I was saying yes to everything. It doesn’t work. It is okay to say no.
There is power in saying no. To say no to the wrong projects, will free yourself up for the right ones.
Tip 8: Learn to Trust Yourself
It’s not easy. It took me years to learn, to trust myself, to trust that I would find my style that clients would like my work that would be able to make a long-term career out of this.
Trusting yourself is like a muscle. We have to build it up. And the thing is, if you don’t trust yourself, nobody else is going to do it for you.
Tip 9: Find a Friend with their own Food Photography Business
This is my favourite tip!
This journey can be lonely and not everybody gets it. If you talk to people who are not creative or not trying to run a business, they can’t always empathise with where you are.
Find a friend, find a colleague, find someone through a blog or through Instagram, who you can really talk about things with.
Talk about creative difficulties, mindset struggles, and difficult clients.
The creative friendships that I have built have been some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t have made it through without them.
Tip 10: Enjoy The Journey.
You’ve all heard the saying “It’s not about the destination, it’s about enjoying the journey“. You have to find a way to enjoy the journey.
This is a hard road. Being creative is hard, running a business is hard and thinking about how are you going to get there 10 years later if you don’t enjoy the journey.
I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise.
That’s not to say the journey is always easy, but if we love what you do, you love food photography, and you find ways to enjoy the journey along the way. I actually think that is the definition of success.
What did I miss? What’s the number one thing that you’ve learned from your time being a food photographer?
Let me know in the comments below.