make money with food photography

If you have always dreamed of being able to stay home with your kids and still help your family, YOU CAN as a food photographer for bloggers.

Free video training!

Mar 8, 2024

How to Launch a Career in Food Photography

Have you ever wondered what happens right after you graduate from Pretty Focused and how you launch a career in food photography? What are the first days and weeks like? What’s the process? How prepared are you for work as a food photographer after graduation?

We’ve got all the insight and more from Courtney—a recent graduate.

Courtney turned in her final portfolio and graduated from the Pretty Focused course just a few weeks ago, so she has a fresh perspective on launching a career in food photography. You do not want to miss her story, so keep reading!

Courtney’s Story: From Archeologist to Freelance Food Photographer

Courtney’s career in food photography has been a journey of trial, error, and self-discovery. It hasn’t always been smooth or easy, but the destination has made it all worthwhile! Check it out.

  • For the first six years of her career, Courtney prospected lines for oil and gas companies as an archeologist, working in small towns across the US. It wasn’t ideal.
  • In a desperate bid for a creative outlet, Courtney turned to food. She began baking and selling goods at local farmer’s markets, eventually launching her own food blog.
  • Then, she got more serious about food photography and focused on it full-time, taking various classes to improve her skills and ultimately landing a job at Southern Living.
  • But when the work dried up, Courtney was close to giving up her dream career in food photography until she discovered Pretty Focused on Instagram.
  • She signed up, and three months later, she graduated. Now, there’s a whole new world of opportunity in front of her, and she can’t wait to see what’s next.

Watch her Pretty Focused review now.

03:00 What were you doing before Pretty Focused?
14:06 How did you find out about Pretty Focused?
16:28 What were the pros and cons on your list as you considered Pretty Focused?
18:05 How long did it take you to graduate?
21:30 What happened when you graduated and what has it been like since graduation?
25:24 What has connecting with clients been like?
26:56 How long after posting in the Buyers Club did it take to sell an exclusive?
28:52 How does posting for work in the Buyers Club compare to cold pitching for jobs?
34:52 What did you find invaluable in the course?
40:13 What advice do you have for new Pretty Focused students?
59:19 How long do you take to create and deliver an exclusive?

From Archeology to a Career in Food Photography

Courtney, a Texas native, started her career as an archeologist. It was a “very, very physically demanding job,” but it was a subject that she loved “so much.” The problem was that the job wasn’t ideal. She spent most of her time traveling to little towns in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas to prospect pipelines for oil and gas companies, and the work quickly lost its sparkle.

What Courtney really wanted was a way to embrace her creative side. So, even while she was crazy busy at her full-time job, she launched a small baking business on the side. It was a wonderful creative outlet.  At first, she only sold goods at local farmer’s markets on the weekends, but soon, she expanded to launching her own food blog.

She tried to do it all for a few years—work in archeology and run her food business—but eventually, something had to give. Courtney left her career in archeology and moved back to Houston. And that was about the time (six years ago) she discovered food photography.

Here are 11 more reasons to discover a career in food photography!

Loving and Losing Editorial Food Photography

Courtney’s photography journey started with shooting produce at local farms, but it quickly expanded from there. She got more serious about launching an official career in food photography and began taking courses. It was a game-changer. She had never invested in her skills before—she was 100% self-taught—so it was incredibly inspiring to learn how to take photos from professional photographers.

Quickly, she gained confidence in her photography and took on various odd jobs in the food industry, eventually getting steady work as a freelance food photographer for Southern Living. She helped the magazine update its website with step-by-step recipe photos for a year, and “it was great.”

Then, the work dried up. “They just decided to slowly disappear. It got to a point where I realized I couldn’t count on them because it was never going to start again. That’s when I threw a lot of energy into pitching to brands.”

The Slog of Cold-Pitching Brands

career in food photography

Unfortunately, pitching brands can be hit or miss—mostly miss. Pitching to dozens of brands without a single response can be incredibly disheartening. “It was just insane.” And even when brands responded to Courtney, it was often just to say that they didn’t really have the money. And while she tried to lower her prices to get work, “it just wasn’t sustainable.”

Courtney had a profound soul-searching moment to try and figure out, “What next?” and it was then that Pretty Focused popped up in an Instagram ad. A career in food photography was her dream, and she desperately wanted a way to make it successful. So, while Courtney had already spent a lot of money on various photography courses, she decided to check it out. 

“The thing that intrigued me at first was the Buyer’s Club because of all the courses I’ve taken, none of them had actually bridged that gap between ‘how to do this’ and “here a way for you to actually get work.’” And the rest is history.

Courtney isn’t the first grad to leave editorial photography after Pretty Focused. You can find Amy’s story here.

Discovering Pretty Focused and Food Blog Photography

Courtney started Pretty Focused with the Roadmap and was intrigued upon discovering just how much our grads were making. She then scheduled a free Zoom call with one of our Pretty Focused coaches, learned more about the Buyer’s Club, and decided to try it out.

The only con she could see was the cost because she didn’t have a lot of spare income at the time. But she knew it would be worth it if she had “an easier way to connect with potential clients.” Three-and-a-half months later, she graduated, and she doesn’t regret a single moment or dime spent. 

“I was expecting it to be like the other courses I’ve taken, but I didn’t realize the level of involvement from the coaches. And to me, the course is worth it just for that. I have never taken a course with that much guidance. It was almost mind-boggling to me.” 

Since graduating, Courtney’s career in food photography has grown and expanded, and she gets to spend every day doing what she loves!

5 Food Photography Lessons Learned from Pretty Focused

career in food photography

So, what are some of Courtney’s biggest takeaways from the Pretty Focused course? She learned: how to take her time, the advantage of personalized coaching, how to let go of self-criticism, what it takes to launch a career in food photography, and the value of the Buyer’s Club.

Lesson 1: Take Your Time Going Through the Course

Courtney was not a beginning food photographer when she found Pretty Focused. She had years of experience. So, when she first signed up for the course, she thought, “I can breeze through this in a month or two.” But that was precisely the wrong attitude, and she quickly realized that she needed to shift her timeline and take it slowly.

Ultimately, she still graduated in just over three months but took her time doing it. “I tried to go into it with a beginner’s mind. I watched every lesson, took my copious notes, and followed instructions to a T.”  It was so important for Courtney to take her time through each practice session, wait for feedback, implement it, and focus on improvement.

The truth is that the Pretty Focused coaches are there to help you. If you don’t wait for their feedback and implement their changes, you’ll get to the end of the course with photos that look the same as they did initially, which completely defeats the purpose.

Lesson 2: Take Advantage of the Pretty Focused Coaches & Community

As we said above, a big part of the Pretty Focused course is getting feedback from coaches. They’ll take an in-depth look at your photos and give you helpful insight into how you can improve. This is invaluable!

“If you were to take away all the lessons in the Pretty Focused course, you would still be left with so much guidance that I was not expecting. It’s almost mind-boggling.” When launching a career in food photography, helpful feedback is critical to your success, and there is no better way to gain input than with Pretty Focused coaches.

“I could not believe how the coaches devoted so much time to giving feedback and answering questions. It was just so invaluable to me and anyone wanting to learn. I learned the most in the feedback process. And that’s in addition to just being in the amazing Pretty Focused community on Facebook, where I could ask questions and not be judged. It blew my mind how supportive everyone is.”

Check out the Pretty Focused community on Facebook today!

Lesson 3: Let Go of Self-Criticism and Embrace Growth

career in food photography

While we love coach feedback, no matter how difficult it might be to accept sometimes, what doesn’t have the same value is your own internal criticism. You have to learn to be more forgiving of yourself and less judgemental. That’s been one of Courtney’s biggest struggles. 

“There’s always just a little part of me that feels they’re all gonna think I’m rubbish.” And that worry and criticism, at first, kept Courtney from selling herself and her work as much as she should have. “I didn’t want to post in the Buyer’s Club too much.” She didn’t want to be “that person.” But that was a considerable barrier to Courtney’s photography career taking off, so she’s had to learn to let go of her self-criticism and embrace the journey.

And while Courtney’s feelings of inadequacy haven’t gone away completely, she has learned to ignore that overly critical part of herself to move forward. As the old saying goes, “Fake it until you make it.” You can fake confidence in yourself and your abilities until you feel it.

Lesson 4: Make a Game Plan for Your Career in Food Photography

When Courtney first graduated from Pretty Focused, there was a period of shock, for lack of a better term. She had spent so many months hyper-focused on graduating that she forgot to plan for what would happen afterward. That meant she had to take a few steps back after graduation and dedicate attention to “What now!?”

This meant setting up a store in Shopify, creating a watermark, and figuring out what she would sell and how. From there, selling her first exclusive recipe took a couple of days. A few days after that, she sold two more recipes (in even less time), and she’s been building from there. The key was taking time to make a game plan and then following it.

Learn how to start a food photography business in one of our latest blogs here.

Lesson 5: Embrace the Buyer’s Club

If there is one thing that almost every Pretty Focused graduate can 100% agree on, it’s the value of the Buyer’s Club. Getting connected directly to clients looking for what you’re selling is invaluable. Not only does it save you time and stress, but it also makes a successful career in food photography possible. 

Courtney spent years on the other side of the equation: trying to get clients through pitching. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. And it wasn’t sustainable. She spent more time pitching than working for pay, and that’s not a way to grow a business. But with the Buyer’s Club, that’s not an issue anymore.

The Buyer’s Club is packed with hundreds of food bloggers looking for photographers to hire. You can post your work or respond to work requests, and a client’s almost always looking for exactly what you have. “The people in the Buyer’s Club are interested in what you’re doing. You don’t have to seek out clients with cold pitching every week. It removes a lot of the headache.”

Check out these 7 reasons food bloggers hire food photographers!

Launch Your Career in Food Photography Today with Pretty Focused!

career in food photography

Are you ready to find and love a new career in food photography? Now is your chance! Pretty Focused was designed to help anyone—from beginners to experienced editorial photographers—discover the joy, creativity, and success to be found in food blog photography. 

Unlike other courses that give you video lessons but gate-keep “how” to turn what you learn into a career, Pretty Focused takes you from A to Z and beyond. You’ll be amazed at not only the feedback you receive during every step of your journey, but you’ll also fall in love with the Buyer’s Club and the easy and fast connection to clients.

Does that sound good to you? Sign up for Pretty Focused today and get started!

Share the ♡ or save for later


Follow us on Instagram

melodee lynn photography llc / Copyright 2023 / PRIVACY / disclaimeraccessibility / Code of conduct

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.

Register now and get ready to elevate your passion for food photography into a career that you'll love. 

April 22, 2024 4:00 PM PST