Food Photographers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Art classes of all types (but especially photography) will enhance your skills as an artist and give you a better "eye" for detail and aesthetics. Cooking classes will help to familiarize you with your subject matter. You should also be sure to take math and chemistry classes to be able to handle the technical nature of the job. You will have to mix chemicals based on different proportions, edit digital images using editing software, and judge lighting distances by eye, so a math and science background will help. You should also be sure to take computer science classes and explore software that can store and manipulate images, such as Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. Business and accounting classes will be useful if you plan to operate your own business. English and speech will help you to develop your communication skills. Advertising and marketing classes will help you learn how to promote your business, as well as provide you with an understanding of the advertising and marketing industries (major employers of food photographers). Finally, experiment with taking pictures and familiarize yourself with the workings of cameras.

Postsecondary Training

Although a college degree is not required to become a photographer, professional training will help you get the experience and skills necessary to land a job or attract clients.

Food photographers often go into one of two training programs: culinary arts or commercial photography. A culinary degree with background knowledge of photography will ensure that you know your photo subject, including how to prepare foods and their chemical properties that can be affected by shooting conditions. Those who choose to enter photography programs will be well versed in the technical side of photography and may even be able to take some specialty classes in food photography.

Whatever training program you choose, be sure to check out the institution's reputation and specialty. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits art programs. Also check out online resources for listings of schools.

Other Education or Training

The American Culinary Federation offers online courses for culinary professionals (some of which may be of interest to food photographers). Continuing education events, seminars, classes, and other activities are also offered by professional photography associations such as American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, American Society of Picture Professionals, and Professional Photographers of America. The Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) offers continuing education workshops and seminars at its annual conference. One recent session at the AFJ's annual conference was Food Styling and Photography Tips. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Professional Photographers of America offers the certified professional photographer credential to photographers who pass an examination and submit samples of their work. Visit for more information.



Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

The best way to gain experience in the field is to work as an assistant to a food photographer. Contact photographers in your area to inquire about opportunities. Additionally, obtain as much photographic experience as possible.  

To be successful in their line of work, food photographers have to be patient. Shoots can take hours or even days, depending on the size of the project. An eye for detail is also important to be able to scrutinize a subject for any imperfections that may be imperceptible to the eye, but captured in photographs. Food photographers have to be creative in their work. Some clients will want straightforward images of their food, such as photos found in menus or cookbooks. Other clients may want unique, unpredictable pictures (such as a spicy fajita on a bed of snow) to create a fresh and memorable image of their food, such as photos found in promotional materials and advertisements.

Food photographers should be passionate not only about photography, but also about food. Spending eight hours a day trying to make a salad look just right is not for the average shutterbug. Those who can see the potential beauty in average food items (even something as ordinary as a tomato slice) will be the most successful and happy in this work.

Other important traits for food photographers include excellent manual dexterity, good eyesight and color vision, business acumen, and strong interpersonal and communication skills.