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Food Photographer New York

A one day photo shoot is NOT a 1 day shoot.

I recently did a 1 day food photography shoot for a new client. I don’t generally track the hours that I spend working on a job in part because I don’t really want to know. And in some cases it could make me feel depressed by what my hourly rate was.

On this job me and my assistant spent roughly 9 - 10hrs at the companies US store photographing the interiors of the store and their products. My assistant met me at the location and left when we wrapped the shoot. I spent at least an hour before and after transporting my equipment to the location and picking up the rental gear. The next day I spent an hour dropping off the rental gear. I prefer to own my own gear whenever possible but in this case I wanted to try out a new production cart to see how that worked on the job before I bought one. On most of my jobs I do my own retouching. As a general rule I spend 1 hour retouching per every hour shooting so approximately 9 - 10hrs worth of photo editing/retouching.
A tropical cocktail photographed with Love.
I also often produce my own shoots (but I love having a producer whenever the budget allows) and the job didn’t begin for me at the shoot it began the moment that I first received the email from the companies marketing director. I really wanted to impress this new perspective client but I didn’t have any similar work in my portfolio. So I decided to do a test shoot to impress them. I went to the flower district in Manhattan to buy tropical looking plants to use as props. I went to Whole Foods to purchase interesting looking food items to use as props in the photographs. And I did an exhaustive search to find a whole coconut that didn’t have its outer skin already chopped off(to no avail!). I spent what I would estimate to be 4 hours at my studio shooting test shots. Because this potential client was based overseas I put my project proposal together in a website to show them. Presentation really matters. From there I met with their US representative to talk more. And I also photographed the backgrounds that I had to use at the shoot and put those in a website to show them. In all I estimate that I spent at least 10hrs doing client acquisition to impress them into hiring me.
Cocktail settup with sprinkles as an ingredient
Again I don’t like keeping track of the hours that I spend necessarily. It’s interesting to think about but I would never create a time sheet for myself. My assistant that day got to go home when the shoot was over but for me it was just the middle of a long process. He probably made more per hour worked than I did. That’s one of those things they don’t tell you and you just have to learn the hard way when you become the boss. #paidthecosttobetheboss Looking back on it I estimate that for a 1 day, roughly 10hr shoot I put well over 30hrs of my time into making that happen. Plus another 10hrs of my assistants time for a total of 40hr+ hours spent to produce a 1 day photoshoot. This is really important to keep in mind when making your budgets. At first it might seem like you’re asking for a lot but when you break it down often times your rate really isn’t that much. Subtract from those hours worked health insurance, paid sick leave, vacations and any other ‘benefits’ that you want to give yourself as a self employed person and there’s not much left over. There’s a good chance that the barista who poured your coffee this morning is making more than you are. Whenever possible try to communicate that with clients in a way that’s not combative. You’re in this together and if they love your work this is what it takes to support the people who make it so that they can keep providing you with amazing artwork. And at the end of the day any artwork that you produce for a client should make them exponentially more money than it cost to produce. In the financial and advertising worlds this is referred to as ROI, or Return on Investment. Were all in this together. If your clients ROI is good, your good, and everybody is happy.
A drink with a lemon wedge floating in it a cocktail at Oceans NY getting a lemon squeezed on it by a bartender. Oceans NY bar scene with patrons sitting drinking cocktails
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This is an ongoing project with more coming soon.

Have a question? Feel free to ask and I would be happy to help.

will@howtobeafoodphotographer.com
a portrait of Will Engelmann
Did you just stumble on this page but you're actually looking for a Food Photographer in New York? Click the links below for Will's website.

Check out his Food Photography Website
Thirsty? Cocktail Photography Website