Questions For Hiring A Food Photographer

blistered tomatoes in a cast iron skillet

So you’ve decided to hire a food photographer for your restaurant. Congratulations! But now where do you begin? If you’ve never worked with a photographer before the process of finding one may be a little overwhelming.

A quick Google search will provide a list of photographer’s websites and each one should have a portfolio for you to look for. After contacting a few, each photographer will likely want to schedule a consultation to learn more about your project. Think of this as a more relaxed interview where you both get to learn about each other and if you’re a good fit.

During this “interview” there are several questions you’ll want to ask the photographer to determine if you’d like to hire them or find someone else for the job. The following questions should help you find the perfect photographer and be a good starting point for your conversation.

Albany Food Photography by AM Knizek Photo

Questions To Ask

Do you specialize in food photography?  Who have you worked with previously?

Every time of photography cannot be treated equally and every photographer has a particular strong suit. A portrait photographer may not be particularly skilled at landscapes and vice versa. It’s important to ask any photographer you’re planning on hiring if they have experience with food photography. After all , you’re paying for a persons skill and experience and depending on them to make your food look good.

You may also want to ask who they have worked with in the past. You can look through the images on social media or the restaurants website and get a feel for the photographers style and skill level.

Do you have experience styling food?

Another thing to recognize is that food photography and food styling are not one in the same. There are countless tips, tricks, and insider secrets to make food look appetizing on camera. So much so that often times, food is inedible after a shoot due to it being coated in glycerin, fake cheese, and oil among other things.

Due to the nature of food styling being a highly skilled job, it’s not uncommon for a photographer to hire a food stylist, especially if it’s a high-budget commercial shoot. Hiring a food stylist also makes the production run more smoothly and faster.

However, if there will be a food stylist on site this is likely a cost that you will be responsible for. If you can’t afford the stylist, ask your photographer if they ever do the styling themselves and ask to see examples of their work.

Where can the images be used?

By law, all photographers own the intellectual property rights to their images. This is the industry standard and nearly all professional photographers will not give up these rights (in other words, give the client full ownership of the images) without a significant increase in rates.

Instead, there is a usage license. The client purchases this license from the photographer and it dictates where the photographs can be used and for how long. If you wish to use the photos on social media, your website, and in a print ad you should ask the photographer if the license covers all of these platforms. If not, you’ll want to inquire about the additional cost so you can use the images where you like.

How long can the images be used?

Every photographer is different, however many issue a license for 2-3 years. After that, if you still wish to the use the images you’ll need to renew the license. This is a rare occurrence though, considering after 2 or 3 years many restaurants would prefer to have new photos.

Will the photos align with your branding and image?

Every photographer has a personal style, however a good food photographer can adapt to the style of the client. Some restaurants have a dark and moody aesthetic, while others have bright, colorful imagery. It’s important to recognize if the photographer can deliver images that are on brand with your business or not.

What’s Your Turnaround Time?

This may be one of the most important questions you can ask a photographer. If you need the photos by a specific date it’s important to know what the photographers turn around time is like. Every photographer’s schedule and workload is different, so you may receive your photos in a few days or a few weeks. If it’s a rush job they could charge you extra, so just be up front about when you need the photos by. No one likes surprise deadlines or fees!

Chicken Wings by food photographer AM Knizek Photo

Working With a Food Photographer

There’s never a wrong time to hire a food photographer for your restaurant. I take a personal approach to every project and client and can ensure you’ll have exceptional photos you’ll love. Get in touch with me today and let’s chat about how I can make your food and restaurant shine!

Client Shoot with Claudia Meyer by AM Knizek Photo
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