Food Photography: An Untapped Niche Market

Posted on February 19, 2011 in Alternative Careers

By Ashmita Sengupta:

In this age of social transparency, chances are that 6 out of 10 profiles that you will stumble upon, on a networking site, will describe the person as a foodie. And more often than not, half of those foodies will claim to be amateur photographers as well.

Such probabilities shouldn’t be too baffling, considering ‘Food’ is something more than just for survival for Indians; while photography is appealing for its freedom to portray the world through a personal perspective.

Once you club the two together, Food photography arises to become a very enticing career prospect. Now that social norms aren’t as stringent as they used to be, youngsters are opting for the road less travelled without any second thoughts. Since pay packages are not very high on the priority list, as opposed to job satisfaction, Food Photography seems to be the perfect answer for people who share their love with food, as well as shooting.

Whenever you ask a chef what is the most important factor while preparing a dish, his answer will never be a one word answer. Food in itself, has always been considered an art. Not only must it scintilate your taste buds, but also excite the other senses as well. The texture, the presentation and the smell is just as important as the taste.

The trick of this profession is to make food seem appealing in two-dimension photography. The photographer should have a knack to bring the magic of the food alive, with the help of colours and texture. The photographer should understand what is required to make the grub look as fresh and delicious on print, as you expect it to look on your plate when it’s served. Clicking food by itself will inevitably make it look dull. Thus, accessorizing the scene and styling the food has become another integral aspect of this profession. Photographers also have a very limited time to shoot, because food essentially looks good only for a few moments.

Photography cannot replace the aromas which entice the consumer. Thus the photographer should be able to make the food look so good the consumer think he or she can smell and taste it.

To succeed in this off beaten track, one should have a strong sense of colour and composition, a good knowledge of food and an impeccable aesthetic sense. While the aesthetic sense helps shoot the food with appropriate props and lighting, a strong knowledge of your subject helps you focus on better perspectives

A specialised course in food photography is still not offered anywhere in India. But, a basic course in Photography applies to Food Photography as well. After which personal initiative and practice will help you gain better ground and understanding of this field. Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia Mass communication research Centre, New Delhi provide one of the best basic courses in Photography.

Since there is a steady growth in interest for good visuals as well as exotic food, the future holds tremendous possibilities. Even though, food photographers are not usually hired as employees, they usually work on contract basis. Depending upon your position in the market, payment for a day’s shoot varies from Rs. 5000 to about Rs. 60,000 per day.

Prospects of Food Photography are very bright considering it still remains an untapped market in India – a niche. The major tentative clients include food manufacturers, hotels and restaurants, exporters, dairy and ice cream companies, cookbooks, lifestyle magazines and newspapers.

This career is for people who proclaim that they eat to live, and have an innate skill at portray a wonderful world through their lens. This not only proves to be a satisfying job, but an artistically stimulating one. So go ahead, grab that camera and be fearless. Like they say, “If you can shoot food, you can shoot anything”.

A great example of a good food photographer can be seen at