make money with food photography

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Jul 21, 2023

How Cheryl Learned Food Photography to Sell Recipes

Discovering your dream career can feel overwhelming and impossible. Sometimes, you get close, but something is missing. So you go back to the recipe and try again. That was the case for Cheryl. She was a busy corporate professional, then a food blogger, and then a bakery owner. Nothing truly fit until she decided to learn food photography.

It changed her life.

After going through Pretty Focused, Cheryl was able to channel all of her creativity and love for food into a career in food photography. And she saw success fast. She sold 14 recipes in her first week, and her food photography has only grown from there. Now, she not only does the work she loves, but she does it on her schedule and builds in whatever flexibility she needs to have the work-life balance that is so important to her.

Cheryl’s Story: From Blogger to Bakery Owner to Food Photographer

Cheryl’s story might seem incredible, but it’s all true. She really did sell 14 recipes her first week after graduation, and it’s only improved since then. But it’s her story to tell, and you can watch it now.

  • Cheryl was a busy professional who could spend months at a time traveling. 
  • Then, she had her first child and realized she wanted a better work/life balance. So, Cheryl launched her own food blog, and eventually her own bakery, to try and make a new life for herself.
  • But the pandemic hit, and Cheryl had to reevaluate her career again. She decided to learn food photography and use her creative talents to help other bloggers.
  • Now, Cheryl works from home, makes her own schedule, keeps work light in the summer, and takes advantage of the flexibility that a career in food photography offers.
  • 0:00 Countdown
  • 2:00 What were you doing before you joined Pretty Focused?
  • 3:49 When did you join Pretty Focused?
  • 5:43 Were there any challenges you faced when going through the course?
  • 6:17 What were some ah-ha moments for you?
  • 8:20 How long did it take for you to go through the course?
  • 9:55 What does the work for bloggers look like?
  • 12:22 What has business been like since you graduated?
  • 14:14 How many recipes are you doing a week?
  • 15:02 How do you connect and sell to bloggers?
  • 16:03 Do you have to have a shop to sell recipes?
  • 19:46 Do you ever worry about losing clients when you need to take a break?
  • 21:59 Do your recipes sell out every time?
  • 24:25 What does your weekly workflow look like?
  • 28:23 What types of recipes do bloggers want?
  • 30:35 What advice do you have for people thinking about joining Pretty Focused?
  • 32:58 What is Pretty Focused?
  • 37:35 When did you set up your shop?

A Recipe for a Career in Food Photography: Sprinkle in Some Trial and Error

Cheryl’s story starts 12 years ago with the birth of her first son. At the time, she was a project manager working in various Northern Canadian communities for months at a time. While she enjoyed her job, it wasn’t very conducive to being there for her family. So, she decided to launch a blog with recipes, event planning, parties, and everything she loved in order to earn an income at home.

It worked out great! For almost ten years, Cheryl ran a successful blog with amazing recipes. Then she opened her own bakery, but the pandemic hit, and we all know what happened next. Cheryl’s bakery shut down, and she had to reevaluate. The good news is that all her experiences led her to figure out what she really loved: being behind the scenes.

So, Cheryl decided to use her creative expertise to help other bloggers develop their recipes. But to do that, she needed to take her skills to the next level and learn food photography. That’s when she found Pretty Focused.

Learning Food Photography from Pretty Focused

before after learn food photography

Being a self-starter and entrepreneur, Cheryl isn’t one to make things easy on herself. When she started the Pretty Focused Food Blog Photography course in July 2020, she was still in the middle of closing her bakery. Suffice it to say, she was BUSY! But thankfully, Pretty Focused isn’t a course with a deadline. Cheryl was able to sit on it for almost a year before actually diving into the coursework in June 2021.

The rest is history. In three to four months, Cheryl graduated from Pretty Focused and was ready to start selling her work. And within that first week of graduation, she sold 14 recipes and launched her new career! 

Yes, food photography is profitable!

Life as a Food Photographer: 2 Years of Success

Cheryl hit the ground running with her food photography and hasn’t slowed down since. But she has taken her new career through a few iterations to find her sweet spot. 

At first, Cheryl focused almost solely on bright, colorful, and cheerful rainbow-type recipes. They were a huge hit with customers, and her shop was “super, super busy.” But there are only so many rainbow things you can create. So Cheryl began to branch out.

Now, she does a wider range of recipes, from main dishes to appetizers, desserts, and everything in between. It’s still her style, but the recipes reach a larger demographic of bloggers, which is exactly what she needed for continued success. 

The key? Getting market feedback. Cheryl regularly reaches out to bloggers to ask what they need and what recipes they’re looking for, and then she does it. Yes, it can be that easy!

3 Lessons About Food Photography from Pretty Focused

Once Cheryl gave food photography a chance, it was fairly smooth sailing. With her history in blogging, she knew what bloggers were looking for already, so she was able to jump right into crafting creative desserts and fun, colorful food that really grabbed people’s attention. 

But her true success came from what she learned about food photography during the Pretty Focused course. Here are a few of her key takeaways!

  1. Don’t Let the Photography Learning Curve Scare You. Instead of  Automatic Use Manual Settings

One of Cheryl’s biggest challenges when it came to food photography was learning how to take her camera off the automatic setting. It was so much simpler, but her photographs were not nearly as compelling. “I didn’t know what all the fancy buttons did.” Eventually, Cheryl learned how to set everything manually on her camera, and it really made a difference. 

It was the first real hurdle for her, and for a time, Cheryl wondered if she could really do it. But Pretty Focused is designed to not only teach you how best to use your camera and all of its features, but it offers plenty of opportunities to practice, practice, practice. And practice makes perfect when it comes to truly learning food photography.

  1. Learn Food Photography One Step at a Time

The key to Cheryl’s success in food photography was learning it one step at a time. Normally, she’s a mover and shaker who jumps in with both feet. For example, for her very first sample recipe in the course, Cheryl went all out with an incredible Banana Split Cake (which sounds delicious!). But it was way too much work just to practice some pictures. 

That’s when a Pretty Focused coach stepped in and gave her some incredible advice: Start slowly and start with the basics!

Instead of baking a recipe from scratch just to practice her photography skills, Cheryl was encouraged to buy grocery store food and practice with that. “Just focus on learning the camera first, and then once that is done, you can start focusing on being more creative with it. But first, just do the basics. Don't overspend.”

The Pretty Focused course breaks down learning food photography into simple, easy-to-follow steps. First, you learn how to use your camera: shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc. Then, you worry about lighting and other details. Then, you focus on creating beautiful, colorful, and over-the-top recipes. One step at a time.

Check out our photography gear recommendations to get started.

  1. Don’t Hesitate to Take Your Food Photography to the Next Level with Master Classes

The great news about Pretty Focused is that if you want to take your food photography above and beyond the basics, you can do that! There are quite a few Master Classes that you can dive into that can take your skills to the next level. And that’s what Cheryl did.

After she learned the basics of lighting and styling, she jumped right into a Master Class on “Selling Exclusives.” This course is all about how to develop exclusive recipes and photographs–based on market research–and then craft an entire “ready to post” recipe packet for bloggers.  With this insight, Cheryl was able to take her Pretty Focused portfolio and transform it into something that made her money in week one, when she sold 14 of her recipes.

3 Food Photography Tips for Success

food photography tips

Are you starting to wonder, “Is learning food photography the right next step for me?” It could be! We encourage you to check out the Pretty Focused Roadmap to help you figure out your next steps. 

But before you do that, we want to leave you with three tips for success in food photography from Cheryl, who was in your shoes just a few years ago.

  1. Turn your Food Allergies and Diet Requirements Into a Niche for Your Food Photography

The incredible thing about food photography is that you can make it work for you and your needs. In fact, Cheryl was able to make her son’s severe allergies into somewhat of a selling point for her photography.

Her son cannot have peanuts or any sort of tree nuts anywhere near him. So, Cheryl can’t do any recipes that even risk contamination. A gluten-free recipe with almond flour would be a nightmare for her. 

But since Cheryl sells her own food photography exclusives (recipes and photos), she doesn’t have to worry about it. She only creates and sells recipes that fit her requirements and it’s made a niche for her within the blog community.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to Find Customers for Your Food Photography

Cheryl is no stranger to finding customers. The key is being willing to try a little bit of everything. She posts her recipes in her shop, sends them out in a regular newsletter, posts unsold exclusives in the Pretty Focused Buyers Club, and more. Whatever it takes.

But what if you don’t have exclusive recipes and food photographs to sell? Cheryl recommends creating a rate sheet and portfolio as an advertisement for your work. Then, every six months, update your rates and examples to keep it fresh. From there, it’s just a matter of selling yourself and your skills in the Pretty Focused Buyers Club, in your newsletter, and elsewhere.

“There are a lot of different options out there, even if you don’t have your own shop. You can just have a newsletter and say that you have space to take new clients this month or offer a pre-sale for a recipe.” It’s up to you!

Just remember, not everything is going to sell well, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong or people don’t like your work. “There are always some that are flops, just like anything in life.” As long as you’re providing consistent, high-quality work, you’ll sell what you need to.

Yes, food bloggers do want to hire food photographers!

  1. Create a Weekly Workflow for Your Food Photography

Cheryl has a spreadsheet of everything going on in her business. In this spreadsheet, she outlines:

  • recipe ideas
  • keyword research
  • seller history (what has sold well in the past)
  • social media trends
  • holidays
  • etc.

Then, from all her insight, Cheryl figures out what she wants to do for work, including her deadlines. Trends and holidays obviously have a tighter schedule that’s set in stone, but other ideas might just be fillers that she can work on when she has time. The key is to get to know your workflow so things don’t slip through the cracks.

Should You Sign Up to Learn Food Photography From Pretty Focused?

food photography tips for success

So, should you sign up for Pretty Focused and learn food photography? Absolutely yes! Cheryl just recommends taking it in “bite-sized chunks.” She warns, “Don’t jump in like I did with the biggest extravagant cake that you can find to photograph.” Instead, grab cupcakes from the store and start there. 

The Pretty Focused course is not a race you have to win to finish. Take it as slow as you want and take advantage of the incredible community that’s there to help you every step of the way “because we’ve all started somewhere.” Don’t be afraid to ask when you need help or when you’re feeling defeated. It happens to everyone. “There’s no limit to how many times you can ask the same question.”

And if you have years of experience in food photography, Pretty Focused can still be for you! There are people at all levels of experience in the Pretty Focused community and they all have something to offer, “everybody learns different things as they go along.” There are tips for people at every level.

Give Pretty Focused Food Blog Photography a chance today. It’s worth it!

What if you could turn your passion for cooking and photography into a dream career?

Pretty Focused – Food Blog Photography helps aspiring food photographers get hired. Whether you’re looking to make a full-time income or just supplemental income, there is something for everyone inside our course. Plus, with the support of a community and top-notch coaches, as well as our Buyers Club that connects you with clients, you’ll have everything you need to succeed.

So if you’re looking for a new career or just want to explore the possibilities of working from home as a food photographer for bloggers, join the Pretty Focused Roadmap and learn if this is right for you.

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Attention food lovers & aspiring food photographers! Turn your passion for food into a full-time income with our exclusive training. Get insider knowledge, personalized support, & learn how to connect with potential clients.

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April 22, 2024 4:00 PM PST