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Jul 7, 2023

This Single Mom Launched a Career in Food Photography

As a single mom desperately in need of a flexible work schedule (that still pays the bills), what are you supposed to do? That was the big question for Melanie—a single mom of three boys. She’d worked half a dozen jobs and even returned to school for a medical career, but nothing fit her needs. Until she discovered Pretty Focused and a career in food photography! 

Pretty Focused helped Melanie find work/life balance for herself and her family. Suddenly, she could work how and when she wanted while earning the pay she desperately needed. And her life changed drastically for the better.

Melanie’s Story: A Budding Career in Food Photography

Does Melanie’s story sound too good to be true? It isn’t. But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to her story for yourself!

  • Melanie was a single mom of three young boys, struggling to find a job that would fit with her busy schedule and help her afford the lifestyle her boys deserved.
  • She saw a Facebook Ad for Pretty Focused and thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a shot.”
  • At the beginning of the pandemic, Melanie graduated from the course, and while other people were losing their jobs, she brought on three dream clients and launched her career in food photography.
  • Now, she works 25-30 hours a week and enjoys the work/life balance she only ever dreamed about.
  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 4:53 How did you find Pretty Focused?
  • 7:27 What was your experience going through the Pretty Focused course?
  • 9:54 Did you have experience in photography before Pretty Focused?
  • 12:25 How long did it take to start working with clients after you graduated?
  • 15:24 What do you like best about food photography?
  • 18:04 What does your work week look like now?
  • 21:29 What are some of your favorite photography jobs?
  • 24:41 Any tips and tricks of the trade you can share?
  • 27:00 What are some goals for your food photography moving forward?
  • 29:26 Let’s talk about expanding into food videos.
  • 34:17 Any advice for someone thinking about joining Pretty Focused?
  • 36:27 College Photography VS Pretty Focused
  • 45:05 Final thoughts

Searching for a Flexible, Well-Paying Job

As a single mom of three boys (14, 12 & 8), Melanie had very specific needs when it came to her career. She needed to earn good money without an extreme amount of stress, and somehow, the job needed to offer flexibility. It seemed impossible—no matter how much Melanie searched.

She tried working in childcare for the YMCA for seven years. Then, she worked at an art studio and tried bartending, which while super fun, weren’t quite right. So, she went back to school to earn her technical certificate as a health unit coordinator and an EKG tech. But after three months of insanity in the ER, “It was wild,” Melanie couldn’t do it anymore. 

And that was when things changed.

Melanie randomly got a job at a camera gear company, and while the job didn’t last, it did open her up to the world of Pretty Focused. All it took was one Facebook Ad at the end of 2018 and the rest is history.

Finding Pretty Focused and a Career in Food Photography

When Melanie first found Pretty Focused, right away she realized it was something special. She loved how the courses were set up and how the support was structured. Unlike so many other photography classes, it didn’t seem like just another Facebook group where “you’re on your own.” Instead, Melanie felt that Pretty Focused was all about support, and that was what she needed and wanted. “It really drew me in!”

The constant support was critical for Melanie, who worked full-time while caring for her three boys and going through Pretty Focused. She didn’t always have the free time she wanted for class, but Pretty Focused was always there waiting for her when she was ready. So, even though it took some time, “I’m a big procrastinator,” Melanie eventually graduated in early 2020.

Within 24 hours, she was booking clients!

Life Has Improved Drastically Since Launching Her Career in Food Photography

Since becoming a food photographer, Melanie’s life has drastically changed—and all for the better.

  • She works from home when and how she wants without having to worry about childcare.
  • She was able to get her own place with her kids, “which I wouldn’t have been able to do without Pretty Focused.”
  • She quit all of her part-time jobs and now works as a food photographer full-time—25 to 30 hours a week.
  • She started her investment portfolio and is able to prioritize herself and find balance in her life.

Moving forward, for Melanie, the sky is the limit! She’s currently taking master’s courses on food videos and selling exclusives, and she can’t wait to expand her business for her current clients and beyond.

Why Did You Choose the Pretty Focused Course for Food Photography?

Melanie LOVED the immense amount of support found in the Pretty Focused family. She regularly used the private Facebook group throughout the portfolio process to gain great feedback, talk with other students, and so much more. And when she needed to get a hold of Melodee, or another coach through private message, it was easy and quick.

“You are on it. So truthfully, it was just a great experience. Everybody’s cheering each other on, and it’s so cool to see everybody who’s going through the course. It’s so great.”

And support is just one lens in the Pretty Focused repertoire. 

  • Pretty Focused Helps Improve Camera Skills to Another Level

Though many people come to Pretty Focused having never picked up a camera before, that was not the case for Melanie. She took photography in college, and while she didn’t finish, she did have a solid foundation and a bit of experience. But even still, there was so much to learn.

“The way you guys set up the program, you don't need to know how to use a camera. I mean, truthfully, I know my way around the camera with what I need, but I’m sure there are a lot of other functions that I have no clue about.”

  • A Career in Food Photography is Flexible

For Melanie, the best thing about being a food photographer is the flexibility! She graduated from Pretty Focused and started taking clients right before the pandemic hit. And Bam! Suddenly, her three kids were at home, needing a lot more attention. As a food photographer, she had the flexibility to work from home without worrying about childcare. “That was amazing!”

Shelly went from a corporate job to a dream career working at home in just 10 months!

  • Food Photography Offers Work/Life Balance on Your Terms

Within two years of graduating from Pretty Focused, Melanie has been able to raise her prices and take on less work at higher pay. It has meant discovering a work/life balance she didn’t think was possible. She can provide for her family on just 25 to 30 hours of work a week. And if she wants more work, it’s there, because food photography is a constantly growing field!

  • Gain A lot of Food Photography Experience: Fast

With Pretty Focused, the way the course is set up, you can go from “no experience to being highly experienced” fast. Because of all the support you receive and your introduction into the  “Buyers Club” upon graduation, Pretty Focused graduates are immediately working with clients and making money. “It really fast tracks you!” 

Discover how Kim fast-tracked her food photography career as a brand-new mom!

What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Food Photographers

So what advice would Melanie give an aspiring food photographer who isn’t sure how to get started or if Pretty Focused is the right food photography course for them?

  • Discover Your Creativity Through Food Photography

Melanie believes that everybody is creative. As children, we all have wells of creativity that tend to dry up as we grow up. But if food photography is something you think you would enjoy, if you really love cooking and baking, then you can find and explore your creative spark again. It’s well worth it.

  • There’s an Abundance of Food Photography Work: Be Selective

There is a lot of work in food photography right now. There are endless possibilities for jobs and projects, and at the beginning, Melanie took on way too much. And while lots of work may seem like a great problem, you have to learn what your limits are and only take on the work you can handle and enjoy. For Melanie, that has meant working with just three consistent clients.

Discover why bloggers want to hire food photographers in our blog.

  • Don’t Be Afraid of Artificial Lighting for Your Photos

At first, Melanie only used natural lighting to shoot, but it was so limiting. If something was going on with her kids and she had to shoot later in the day, natural light didn’t work. So, she decided to move fully to artificial lighting. It helped her remain more consistent with white balance, and it increased her flexibility with work hours. “It has been a really big help.”

  • Food Photographers Don’t Need the Latest Greatest Camera

Melanie has been shooting with the same camera since the launch of her career in food photography. She’s even dropped it a few times, and the battery is barely holding on for dear life, but it still works. And that’s all that matters. It gets the job done, and her clients are happy.

But if you want new equipment, check out our Recommended Gear!

  • Food Photographers Don’t Have to Be Professional Chefs!

While Melanie was always great at baking and cooking, she wasn’t chef-quality. She just enjoyed it and was willing to learn. And she soon found out that bloggers are really great at offering insight and help into the things you don’t know, so food photography has become an opportunity to enhance her skills and have fun. 

“I had no idea what croquembouche was, she [the blogger] walked me through it, even how to do the sponge sugar, and that was really wild. I had never done that before, and it turned out really amazing.”

Why Are You Waiting to Start Your Career in Food Photography? Go For It! No Starving Artists Here.

If you’re waiting to start your career in food photography, Melanie has just one piece of advice, “Go for it!” The Pretty Focused course offers amazing support and incredible coaches. You’ll be walked through the entire course from the very beginning. “I’ve never seen any other course out there that does that for you. It’s just amazing!”

Plus, Pretty Focused is never static! It’s always improving, updating, and adding new information, courses, and help as needed and requested. Students are involved in the evolution of Pretty Focused, so it’s what you want and need, not what some admin thinks you want and need.

“It's the most complete course that you can purchase for food photography. I don't even think you could get this kind of material and education through college.”

Food Photography Resources Mentioned

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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