Being a Food Photographer in Pittsburgh PA

Pittsburgh Food Photographers - Ravioli

Being a Food Photographer in Pittsburgh PA

I’m sure students and aspiring photographers in Pittsburgh PA, and other medium sized cities, have wondered, what’ it like to be a food photographer.  I’m here to tell you, as a career, it’s freaking great! I love what I do and wouldn’t change my career for anything, but if you think you might want to do what I do, there’s a few thing you need to know…

There aren’t any “pure” food photographers in Pittsburgh PA.  Pittsburgh is just too small a city to be a specialist in food photography.  There just aren’t enough clients that need to have food photographed.  The only way around that is to “go national” in your marketing efforts and hope that you’re good enough to entice out of state clients to hire you to do their food photography.  This is not an easy thing to do.  Your work will really have to stand out from your competition, and if you’re competing nationally, that’s difficult to do.  Besides being better than all the other food photographers in the nation, you’ll have be able to justify the client’s added expense to fly to your city to do their photography, and that extra expense can add up quickly.  Don’t get me wrong, you can “go national, but it’s not all that easy to do.

Besides Pittsburgh being too small a market to become a photographic specialist, I don’t really know if I’d want to, if I could.  To tell you the truck, I love the variety of commercial photography.  Even though food photography is probably my favorite kind of photography, but if that’s all I’d do, I don’t think I’d enjoy my career as much as I do now.  As a “generalist” commercial photographer, one day. I’m shooting executives in Florida, the next I’m in a hospital operating room, and the next I’m down in a coal mine.  It’s so much font to experience all these different things and it really keeps life interesting.

If you do want to get into food photography and you do live in a small city Like Pittsburgh, Let me give you a few pointers that might make your career path more successful.

1. Become a freelance assistant to a good food photographer.  Every commercial photographer, and food photographer too, will have his own way of doing things and if you assist for a bunch of different photographers, you’ll be able to pick and choose the best solutions and techniques from each photographer you work with.

2. Start out as a generalist.  There just aren’t enough clients in a small city to support a “just food photographer”, especially when starting out.  You’ll need to shoot anything just to stay in business in order to eventually move on to a specialty.  You’ll need to accumulate equipment and that takes money.  And to make money, you’ll need to shot whatever you can for people that will pay you.

3. Keep shooting and don’t wait to be paid for taking photos.  Even now after a gazillion years, I still do “test shoots” on my own in order to produce the kind of photos that I want to do.  I’m often busy as a food photographer, bit lots of the time, I’m shooting the kinds of shots that aren’t all that fun to do.  I like to make “pretty food photos” and sometimes clients need “useful” food photos for marketing purposes, and I surely don’t mind shooting those kinds of shots, because they pay the rent and put food on my table.  But, they’re not my very favorite things to shoot, so to prove that I can do those “pretty shots”, I sometimes do them on my own, without pay, and show them around to potential clients.  It’s good marketing and good for my soul.

So, in conclusion, I’d like to say that I truly love being a food photographer in Pittsburgh, PA, but it’s a career that you have to evolve into.  It’s just not a good idea to come out of school and announce to the world that “I’m a food Photographer” and that’s all I shoot, because if you do, you’ll probably starve… :o)

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