Reaching out to a new client, especially as someone who is just starting out in food photography, can be nerve racking. There are all sorts of questions that can come up in one’s mind...
What do I say?
Is my work good enough?
What do I charge if they want to hire me?
How do I display my work?
How do I make myself stand out?
While there is no one template or exact process for how food photographers get hired for their first paying jobs, there are things that can be done in advance of reaching out that will make you feel more prepared. And, feeling more prepared will make you feel less nervous about pushing send on that email.
Create a Website
Before you reach out to a potential paying client, it’s important to have a professional looking platform that you can send them to to view your work. These days, there are all sorts of do it yourself websites that can be set up in a matter of hours, and even if it’s just one page long, will allow you to present your work in a more professional manner. Be sure and choose only your best work to display, not too much of it, but enough so that a potential client can get a good snapshot of your work when they look at your site.
Set Up Your Social Media Pages
Not quite as pressing as having a website to show, social media pages, especially Instagram, do give food photographers social proof and can also act as a second snapshot of your work. It’s like a curated magazine and if done right can really create a stunning example of what you are capable of.
Decide Generally What You Will Charge Ahead of Time
This can be one of the trickiest areas for photographers. Pricing is continually evolving and changing, even within ones own journey as a food photographer. And when you are looking to be hired for your very first paying job, there can be a lot of uncertainty.
A good rule of thumb is to spend some time mapping out your skills as a food photographer in as detailed a way as possible. Are you proficient at studio work? Have you done any food styling? Do you feel comfortable in a live restaurant or kitchen setting? Do you use natural light, or are you familiar with or proficient at artificial lighting? What sorts of food or products have you shot and what ones haven’t you? How long do each of these take me to do when I am shooting?
These are just a few questions that can and will spur others. The more clarity you have about your talents and where you are in your photography journey, the easier it will start to be to nail down how long things will take you and a general price for your services.
Do Your Research on Your Potential Client
Before you reach out to a restaurant or brand, do as much research as you can about their history, the people who work there, what their brand or product is, and who is in charge. The more personal you can make your interaction, the less it will feel like a mass email.
Make it About Them
Let the person you are reaching out to know how you want to help them and what you are able to offer them. Be confident about what you can do for them without being too pushy. Instead of making it too transactional, invite them on a journey with you.
Everyone has jitters about reaching out to potential clients. Taking a few basic steps to prepare and differentiate yourself can alleviate much of that angst and begin to pave your road to success.