4 of My Best Tips on How to Make Money Shooting for Restaurants!

I’ve been working for restaurants as a waiter and bartender for about three years now, so I know what it takes to earn some extra cash. Here are my top four tips on how you can make money shooting at restaurants!

The “foodtography school discount” is a blog post that has 4 of my best tips on how to make money shooting for restaurants. The article also includes information on what you need to get started as a food photographer.

Most people assume that since I run, I began my food photography profession by blogging. But that’s not the case! I began my career as a food photographer by photographing in restaurants!

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? I was working as a waitress at a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2011. Because the proprietor knew I like photography, he invited me to take some pictures. “I’ll pay you $500 to do the pictures for our website,” he said.

This was my first job outside of my apartment filming food. Yes, I knew I enjoyed photography, but I had no clue what I was doing (don’t tell my previous employer).

I had no idea where to look for the best light, what equipment to bring, how many dishes to request, or even what kinds of photographs to capture. If I needed to sign a contract, for example. Or how to create an invoice. aksdjfhlaskdjfh

What’s more, guess what? I completed the task. Here are a few images from the first restaurant shoot:



When I looked at these images at the time, I was pleased with the job I had done. I knew I could do better, however, since I’m a perfectionist. So I spent the next several years learning food photography and practicing on my food blog (as well as other places!).

Restaurant photography, without a doubt, is what launched my profession. Restaurant photography taught me how to shoot in a variety of situations and styles, how to work on the go, how to style like a pro, and how to interact with people in my neighborhood (and therefore gain more employment!).

And it’s because of this shot from 7 years ago that I’m now able to shoot like this at a restaurant:


I often hear from businesses who want to diversify their revenue, and shooting for restaurants is a terrific way to do it. Learning how to shoot in restaurants not only adds to your money stream, but it also helps you establish credibility as a food photographer (you’re not just working for yourself; others pay you!) It also enhances your total portfolio, which may help you get even better customers.

So today I’m going to show you four proven techniques to get your next paid job as a restaurant photographer. Are you prepared?

1. First and foremost, do research to determine where you can bring value.

If you’re just getting started, I usually recommend looking for restaurants, cafés, pubs, and coffee shops that meet at least one of the following criteria: They are owned by a restaurant company; they have good interior design; they have more than 50 seats; they have several locations; and they already have a social media presence. This guarantees that the restaurants you pitch prioritize design and aesthetics, as well as having the financial means to hire a photographer.

Next, check out their website and Instagram account to see what kind of photos they’re presently working with. This can greatly assist you in determining how you may provide value to their company. For example, if their website is solely comprised of iPhone photography, you may assist them step up their game by providing some very stunning professional-quality images. Offer to undertake social media management for them if they predominantly provide User Generated Content (UGC) (more on that later!).

Last but not least, if you’re not sure how to approach restaurants, obtain the same email templates I use to contact them HERE.

2. Establish a network, a network, a network, a network (or get your foot in the door, literally)

Emails may be effective (on occasion), but the restaurant sector is all about building a human connection, which requires you to go up in person. Consider this: a restaurant is all about hospitality and human connection, thus connections are a huge part of what they do! Sit at the bar of the business you want to work with during off-hours (hey, happy hour!). Make friends with the bartender, bar manager, or General Manager, and tell them what you do for a job at some point. Prepare to show them some of your work, or order some foods and take a few shots if you’re new to food photography. They’ll get the picture (literally) realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

3. Request that you take on societal responsibilities.

Taking on social media administration, or monitoring their social media account and providing fresh and new images every week or so, is a terrific way to transform a one-time restaurant shot into a recurring customer (who doesn’t enjoy recurring business?!) If you’re a food photographer who wants to work with restaurants on a regular basis, adding social media management to your portfolio is a terrific way to supplement your income. In our Restaurant Photography, Pricing Guide, Proposal, and Contract guide, we go over all you need to know about taking on social media management (and how profitable it can be)!

4. Get paid what you’re worth, plus tax!

The most difficult aspect of any project is always the pricing. Regrettably, there is no magic method for calculating compensation. Prior experience, skill level, and your instinct tell you how much to charge for your service. As a result, I drew out a rather detailed price guide that takes into consideration our team’s combined 24 years of restaurant expertise. It covers all you need to know about restaurant photography as a business– You’ll get a quoting checklist to help you figure out what questions to ask so you can come up with an accurate quote, a pricing matrix to help you figure out how to price yourself based on your skill level, industry best practices, a sample proposal and contract, and a customizable proposal and contract (WOAH!). In a nutshell, this course will take you from your initial contact with a restaurant to the ultimate result, which is you being paid! That download may be found HERE.

I hope you’ve appreciated my greatest recommendations for making money as a restaurant photographer. I’m excited to see what kinds of jobs you bring in! 

Watch This Video-

The “instagram food photography course” is a course that teaches people how to take professional images of food. It’s 4 of my best tips on how to make money shooting for restaurants!.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips tricks when shooting food?

A: It is important to not overshoot your food, as this will cause you to miss ingredients.

How do food photographers make money?

A: Food photographers can be paid for their work in a variety of ways. Some food photographers are self-employed and do not have set working hours, while others work at studios that require them to charge an hourly or daily rate as well as a flat fee per project. Additionally, some food photography jobs are commissioned by companies who hire the photographer based on their published portfolio of works or skill level

How do you shoot a restaurant?

A: You would shoot the restaurant with a gun. With two or three bullets in order to make sure that you dont kill any people inside, and only injure them. This is not recommended for buildings that are far away from your location though, as it could cause too much collateral damage.

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