In this guide, I show you how to choose who to pitch, how to find the right contact information, and how to craft a winning pitch.
I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
As a photographer, being able to show your potential clients the kind of work you can do for them is extremely important. And the best way to do that is to create a great food photography portfolio!
Unlike photographers in other specialties, like wildlife or travel photographers, food photographers are responsible for capturing content that’s often used in everyday life. That’s why it’s particularly important for photographers in this niche to focus on creating a compelling portfolio that wows.
One of the first things you need in order to present yourself as a professional photographer is a food photography portfolio.
Having a beautiful Instagram account is great, but you don’t own the platform. Your account can get hacked (you’d be surprised at how often actually happens), Instagram could block your account, or the platform could completely change the rules on us tomorrow and make it pay-to-play.
Social media platforms like Instagram are a valuable part of your photography marketing strategy. But a portfolio is the most IMPORTANT thing you should build in order to set yourself up for success.
The format of your food photography portfolio won’t really matter, especially when you’re just getting started. But you absolutely need to have a place to showcase your work to potential clients!
You don’t want to leave your best work vulnerable on social media or scattered inside of your computer. The amazing work you do is one of the best tools at your disposal to help you land your dream clients and reach your goals.
Creating a stand-alone portfolio communicates to clients that you are professional and competent. It also gives you full control of your content and makes it much easier to market yourself.
Set up your food photography portfolio with the platform of your choice. There are countless web design options that you can consider. Some platforms provide you with website templates and formatting suggestions, while others come with less structure.
Consider platforms like:
The type of platform that you ultimately choose should be one that fits your budget and your skillset. Your website is something that you will be updating regularly—so make sure you have access to all of its bells and whistles.
Let’s dive in and explore each option a little more in-depth.
Another good option is Adobe Portfolio. It is free if you have an Adobe subscription. And if you already have your images on Behance, you can build a portfolio in just minutes (seriously!).
Or, consider Photofolio. This one is a little bit more difficult to set up and more expensive, but it’s very robust and really designed for portfolio purposes.
If instead of a standalone portfolio, you’re looking to build a more traditional website with banners, text, different pages, or a blog, my personal favorite is Showit. It’s a drag-and-drop platform that lives on a WordPress blog. Because of the drag-and-drop capabilities, it is much easier than WordPress…but it still has very strong SEO capabilities, plugins, and the robust WordPress platform and support. Also, I have to say that the Showit support is quite amazing!
Your food photography portfolio will showcase your best images, but also contain some important information about you and your business. Like any website, your content should be divided into simple pages.
If you decide to have a homepage, be super clear. Don’t try to be cute and come up with a
clever headline. Use your unique value proposition to create something simple and memorable instead!
For example, on my website, I use: “I create beautiful food and product photography.” My sub-headline is: “I am a food and product photographer helping eco-friendly and sustainable brands spread their message with beautiful, light-filled images.”
A homepage will likely be your most viewed on your food photography portfolio website, so include a call to action right on that page! Say something like: “Click here to set up a consultation”. Your contact information should also be included at the bottom of your site pages as a footer, so people can easily find ways to reach you.
And remember: your potential client shouldn’t have to dig into your website to know exactly what it is you do. If somebody lands on your website by chance, it should only take them seconds to know exactly what you do.
Your photographs are works of art! Like any artist’s work that you would view in a gallery or a museum, your pieces should connect in some way. Creating a cohesive portfolio is essential.
For starters, choose photographs that show the type of content you wish to continue photographing. Pictures of children are not appropriate for your food photography portfolio!
Also, consider the quality and style of your images. You don’t want any mediocre or wildly different photographs distracting from your fine work. Feature only your best selection of pictures. About 30 of them should do the trick!
An about-me page is also a great thing to include in your food photography portfolio. Your about page can talk a little bit about your story and work experience—showing your personality and professionalism.
Including a photograph of yourself is also a must to show that you are human, and approachable for business! People buy from people, and so it’s important to showcase your personality along with your skills.
Your about page is usually one of the highest visited pages on your website, so it’s essential to include it in your food photography portfolio.
Since your entire business depends on clients getting in touch with you, you absolutely must include a contact page on your food photography portfolio site. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised just how many photographers don’t actually have a contact page!
Any calls-to-action that exist throughout the rest of your website should hyperlink to your contact page.
Designing a contact form is a great idea—you can even link it to your CRM platform. However, many clients respond easier to a simple email address or phone number. Access to your email address and phone number gives people the chance to save your contact information and keep track of your conversation from their end.
Think of your food photography portfolio as your main piece of marketing.
All of the clients and work that you accept from this point on will come through your website, so you want to stay on top of it. And all of your other marketing efforts will direct people to your portfolio, so it’s worth concentrating on.
You want to show your clients that you are desirable and constantly producing high-level work. Neglecting to update your food photography portfolio with fresh images suggests that you aren’t very busy.
I recommend updating your portfolio every 3–6 months. This gives you the opportunity to choose your best work and keep things up-to-date (but not overwhelming for your to-do list).
Like a resume, you want your food photography portfolio to get straight to the point. It is dangerous to assume that clients have all day to flip through your images or read huge blocks of text.
People have really short attention spans, so it’s worth consolidating and making everything super clear. Make it clear instantly what you have to offer!
Keep SEO in mind—both for your pages and your images!
Images named things like “IMG_49823.jpeg” won’t help you rank on Google! Use filenames with the keywords you want to be found for! Rename each file for your photographs to something that your clients might search for on Google.
The way that I like to do this is to name your images with the following nomenclature: food name or product name – keyword – studio – image number. The keyword could be food photographer, drink photographer, product photographer, or whatever keyword you’d like to rank for. Make sure to include the name of the studio or the photographer or the location if you would like to work with local businesses and be found in local search results.
For example, “Chicken Parmigiana – Food Photographer – Jane Smith Photography – image27” is likely to land more searches than a generic jpeg filename.
This can be a little time consuming if you have dozens of images on your portfolio (unless you
are doing it with Lightroom, in which case it’s done at export in no time!), but it will greatly help you appear higher in Google searches.
When it comes to your actual website SEO, there are a few steps you should take for your portfolio.
First, leverage meta descriptions on each of your pages (and your website overall) to ensure that no opportunities are missed to bulk up your SEO. These are short descriptions that tell search engines what your page is all about.
Second, consider optimizing the content you create for your website or portfolio. If you’re using WordPress, I recommend you download a plugin called Yoast. It is particularly useful for blogs as it allows you to set a keyword for your blog posts and it gives you tips on how to improve your SEO.
This idea might be one that you haven’t thought of yet! Many restaurants or food businesses appreciate motion photography, so don’t hesitate to include some of that in your food photography portfolio.
Of course, you shouldn’t attempt to advertise a style of photography until you are comfortable with it. Practice motion photography techniques and perfect them if you would like to include a sampling of motion photos in your portfolio.
If you want to reach your fullest potential in food photography, you should definitely spend time on your food photography portfolio. Getting everything just right now will earn you endless business opportunities for years to come.