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Food Photographer NYC

I don’t take “Pics”
But I don’t mind when other do.

I'm a NYC Food Photographer and when I'm working I take photographs. I don’t take Pics unless I'm hanging out with my friends. I love Pics and I don’t have anything against Pics but would like to take a moment to explain the difference.

On the surface there’s no difference between a Photograph and a Pic. It’s just an image right?

When you’re a photographer how you talk about your work and how people view your work is very important. And getting people to respect and value your work can sometimes be a struggle. Occasionally when you’re being hired by a company they might not yet see the value in your work and part of your job is to educate them and using the proper words can help. I take great care in selecting the right words to use in an email or when I first meet a client. Always when speaking about my work use the word ‘photographs’ and not ‘pics.’ Pics are fun. Pics are casual and playful. Pics are something that you do with your friends late at night at the bar. And omg are those two making out over there? That’s a Pic. I love pics. But a photograph is something that a client wants to put on their website. A photograph belongs on the front page of the NY Times or in a cookbook by Martha Stewart. Companies are willing to pay lots of money for a photograph, but a pic not so much.
A master pizza chef posing for a portrait
When I’m hanging out with friends I wear Nikes. When I go to work I wear black leather boots. Being a photographer means that you never have to put on a suit to go to work. And you probably don’t want to wear a suit or a dress because it can be a very physical job. The best angle is probably going to involve you getting down on the floor or standing on top of a table. But just like the words that you use to describe your work are important the way you present yourself to the world is too. It’s more common for fashion photographers to have a specific style brand of clothing that they wear to work but even as a food photographer think about how people see you at work. What does your clothing say about you as a professional and can you use it to your advantage.
a plate of branzino at the restaurant cibo e vino in New York City

What is your back story and how did you get to where you are today?

And you can take this even one step deeper. Not only does it matter what words you describe your work with or how you present yourself to the world professionally but how do you describe your career. What is your back story and how did you get to where you are today? Here's an example from the food industry. In New York City there are hundreds of amazing pizzerias. The competition is fierce among them and debates on who has the best pie or the best slice can end friendships. One of these great pizza empires in NYC was started by Mathew and Emily Hyland. They make really amazing pizzas that are to die for and I've gained a pants size because of them. But so do so many other pizzerias that haven’t seen the same success that they have. I’ve always suspected that part of the secret to their success is that not only do they make really amazing pizzas they also started their pizza empire based on a great brand. The name of their first restaurant is Pizza Loves Emily. And the story of how Pizza Loves Emily came to be is a love story between a boy and a girl in college. And their first dates all revolved around pizza. It’s just a great brand and not only do they make amazing pizzas but it’s a great story that you just want to love. Because Love triumphs and so does Pizza Loves Emily.
Hands cutting freshly made pasta
You’re not a pizzeria but the same rules of marketing your business apply to you too. What is your back story? When you present yourself and your brand to the world as a food photographer how do you describe who you are and where you come from?

Here’s my one caveat though. I’ve worked on many jobs where somebody without being asked or without it coming up in casual conversation just suddenly blurted out some fantastic back story that’s almost too good to be true. It’s not true. The odds of them having been an art director at Avon, a high profile financier at JP Morgan Chase, or having owned a clothing store just aren’t very good. (But there was one guy who genuinely was a commodities day trader in Chicago before he become a soft goods stylist. It’s about the most 360 degree turn imaginable and if you ever met Cheney you would believe him. He also never wanted to talk about it). You are there working on the job. The job interview is over. You don’t need to impress anybody unless they ask. Just be genuine, be honest, be trustworthy.

And if you don’t have a great back story go out and make one.

You write your own narrative everyday.

Chefs hands holding freshly made pasta
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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
the food photographer will engelmann behind the camera
Will Engelmann is a Food Photographer in NYC. He has no other talents and has never done anything else in his life. If for some reason people stop needing high qaulity food photography he's so screwed. But at least for now he thinks he's safe.

Check out his Food Photography Website
Thirsty? Cocktail Photography Website