make money with food photography

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Nov 3, 2023

How Much Do Food Photographers Make?

Talk to your friend circle and most likely, they’ll talk about how hard things are right now and how they want a more enjoyable and better-paying career.  But, at least one person will tell you about a work-from-home opportunity. Or they’ll share about some in-demand career field with great opportunities and how it pays well. 

What if I told you that food photography could be the answer? Not only is it a growing industry with lots of immediate demand (there’s a 10 to 1 ratio of bloggers to photographers), but also a food photographer’s salary is fantastic! The sky’s the limit.

But don’t just take our word for it. Let us show you exactly how much food photographers make and how that compares to other career fields.

How Much Do Food Photographers Make Compared to Other Jobs?

To be as fair and unbiased as possible, we have combed a few different salary aggregate websites (salary.com, comparably.com, and payscale.com) to find average pay for teachers, hair stylists, dental assistants, massage therapists, and food photographers. Our goal is to give you as complete and unbiased an idea as possible.

Of course, we recognize that we can’t cover every career, so we focused on some of the most common jobs for Pretty Focused students. Let’s dive into it. 

Teachers Salary

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in America) that teachers are paid poorly. Talk with any teacher, and you know that the work is brutal and doesn’t stop just because they aren’t teaching. Worst yet, to make ends meet, most teachers have side hustles and second jobs on top of teaching full time.

On average, teachers make just $53,758 a year. And that is HIGHLY dependent on zip code. Wealthier areas with higher property values have better-funded schools, which pay their teachers more. Low-income areas deal with the exact opposite problem. And state-by-state, the pay can differ drastically.

For that pay, teachers work LONG hours. Sure, the school day might end before 3 p.m. for students, but teachers stay late to grade, clean up, prep for the next day, and so much more. In fact, they can work so many hours and for so little pay that taking a job with Costco is a happy alternative. Plus, there is no such thing as a work-from-home teacher who can set their own schedule.

Hair Stylists Salary

Hair stylists, on the other hand, can have a much less demanding job. Yes, they are customer-facing and so they have to deal with making people happy all the time, but for the most part, they get to set their own hours, accept their own clients, and control their days and weeks. Unfortunately, all that freedom comes with a lower paycheck.

The average hair stylist earns $28,457 per year or $13.68 per hour (working 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year). For most, that’s not enough to live without a second income stream. And while some hair stylists might be able to take clients at home,most are forced to work in a salon, rent out their chair, and set a schedule the salon owner can count on.

Dental Assistants Salary

The medical field: that’s where the money is at, right? Everyone always says to go into the medical field to earn the most money. But while surgeons and orthodontists might earn a lot (while paying equally as much in student loans and malpractice insurance), lower-level positions tend to pay a fair amount less.

Dental assistants, who spend the most time with every patient, on average, earn $41,276 per year. And it takes a decent amount of schooling to become a dental assistant—usually nine to 11 months. Plus, as a dental assistant, you are not in charge of your schedule at all. You’re there when the office is open, only taking your vacation days as you are allowed and calling out sick when desperate (because if you’re not in the office, patients have to be pushed off, and the office loses money).

Massage Therapist Salary

What about massage therapists? Massage therapy is a highly sought and in-demand career. Surely, they make good money. Similar to hair stylists, many massage therapists get to set their own schedules, book their own clients, and take charge of their work day. And while it’s another customer-facing job, massages are a lot less volatile than haircuts, and tips are more guaranteed. Sounds good, right?

Well, the average annual salary for massage therapists is just $52,522. And, of course, being a massage therapist isn’t for everyone. It’s a hands-on job that is very physically demanding. You’re on your feet constantly and there is a high risk of injury from repetitive motion and lack of technique. Plus, career burnout is far too common. It is not a job to keep indefinitely.

Typical Food Photographers Salary

So, how much does a typical food photographer make? That’s what you really want to know. 

The typical food photographer is shooting for local restaurants and editorial publications (magazines and books).  This work is hard and typically not recurring.  Once a restaurant has new photos, they are good to go until they change their menu.  For editorial work, these are often demanding, long days, where the work is highly competitive and not consistent.  Due to these factors, the average food photographer is limited with their schedule and income potential.  You have to make your schedule fit your clients demands. 

Pretty Focused Food Blog Photographers Salary

If you create your own business and work for yourself, which is what Pretty Focused teaches, the average Pretty Focused food photographer’s salary is far higher than the above jobs. We feel the most fair numbers we can share come from our recent 2022 graduates. These numbers are self-reported and include both part-time and full-time food photographers. 

So, how much do food photographers make after Pretty Focused? A lot more!

  • 8% earn $10,001 – $25,000
  • 24% earn $25,001 – $50,000
  • 28% earn $50,001 – $75,000
  • 16% earn $75,001 – $100,000
  • 24% earn + $100,001

The average salary of a food photographer is around $68,900 for a Pretty Focused graduate. And that truly is just the start of your potential. Remember, not all of our graduates work full time—in fact, many of them work part time (just enough to earn the salary they want while living their life, taking breaks, and caring for their families). So your salary can vary greatly. But even for a starting baseline, it’s not too shabby, is it!?

Plus, with food photography, working from home and setting your own schedule is the norm! In fact, that extreme flexibility is one of the top reasons so many students join Pretty Focused. They want to set their own schedules, find a better work/life balance, and earn what they want based on how much they work. And that’s all possible with a career in food blog photography. Not many other career fields can say that! 

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Food Blog Photographer?

But wait. Now that you know how much food photographers make: $68,900 a year. The next question you might ask is, “How much does it cost to become a food photographer?” 

We’ve all heard the horror stories of college graduates riddled with debt and unable to ever pay it off. You definitely don’t want to be that person.

So, let’s take a look at the expenses of a food photographer and see how it all shakes out.

Food Photography Education?

If you go the traditional route and earn a degree in photography from a four-year university, you’re looking at $26,027 in tuition annually (or $104,108 over four years). That’s insane!

If you go the specialized course route, the cost is much better. Of course, there are some free basic courses, whether through YouTube or elsewhere, that can help get you started but leave you without the most important information and help. Then there are comprehensive live courses that cost upwards of $25,000 and don’t seem to offer much more insight.

Then, there’s Pretty Focused. Not only is our food photography course comprehensive and personalized, but it basically pays for itself. After you graduate from Pretty Focused, you’ll gain access to an exclusive Buyers Club with more than 1,000 potential clients looking exactly for your food photography content. 

And you get all of that for a fraction of a fraction of what a four-year degree would cost, and less than half of other expensive courses.

Food Photography Gear?

What about photography gear? You’ve probably seen online that getting started in food photography can cost tens of thousands of dollars in gear. We don’t know about you, but few of us have that type of money just lying around. And even if we did, that would take a big chunk out of our food photographer’s salary.

The good news is that you can start small. On our Pretty Focused recommended gear page, we have quite a few different camera options at various price levels that we recommend. But if you already have a camera, you’re set. 

So many of our students use their old but solid cameras to launch their food photography careers, and it works out perfectly. Then, as they earn money, they upgrade their lenses and other gear as needed and cover the cost with what they’re already earning.

As for all the food styling items? You don’t need anything crazy expensive. White dishes, brushed silverware, a few styling boards, and some solid artificial lighting can help you accomplish everything you need to be successful. With a budget of less than $500, you can get all the important things needed to make your first sale.

How Long Does it Take Graduates to Pay For Pretty Focused?

Okay, so how does this all break down? Now that you know how much Pretty Focused costs, you’re probably wondering, “Is this going to put me in the same place as college graduates: stuck with massive debt and no way to pay it off?” Nope!

62.5 percent of Pretty Focused graduates pay off their investment within a MONTH of graduating. And many of our graduates start the paying-off process immediately. In fact, within three days of graduating, 87% of our graduates connect with a client and start selling their work.

“Not even 24 hours after posting in [the buyer’s group], I was hired by 2 bloggers to photograph 10 recipes for them. TEN!!! That covered my cost of your course plus extra! I am still in shock! Thank you so much for everything you continually do to help us!!!” —Melody K

“After I joined the buyer's club I had so much interest from bloggers! Every day or every other day I was getting contacted or reaching out in response to posts. I quickly filled up all the time that I had for photography work. The first blogger contacted me FIVE minutes after that Buyer's Club post went live. And within a week I was full up.” —Megan S.

Unlock Your Potential to Earn a Top Food Photographer’s Salary Today!

So, are you ready to dive into a career in food photography and find out how much you can make? Consider trying Pretty Focused today! 

Whether you’re looking for a side hustle to bring home extra dough or a full-time career doing what you love, food photography can be your dream come true. We’ll teach you how to take sellable photos, how to build a business, what bloggers are looking for, and so much more. You’ll get it all through personalized coaching, detailed coursework, downloadable content, portfolio feedback, and an ever-expanding community of food photographers just like you.

Read through our Roadmap to learn everything you need to know about becoming a top-earning food photographer, and then sign up for our waitlist to get started. A new career is waiting for you just around the corner. The earning potential is boundless!

Read through our Roadmap to learn everything you need to know about becoming a top-earning food photographer, and then sign up for our waitlist to get started. A new career is waiting for you just around the corner. The earning potential is boundless!

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