© Raphaëlle GIRARDIN

Food photography is a world apart from still life photography. Heir to still life paintings, food photography is very much in vogue these days, especially on social networks. The aim? To visually represent food, dishes and culinary specialities in the most appealing way possible, in order to make consumers’ mouths water!

The role of the food photographer

Today’s trendy food photography is a visual representation of our plates, food and gastronomy in general. The role of the food photographer can be to sublimate these products, make food lovers salivate or inspire them to get down to cooking.

To get the best shots, the food photographer relies on his or her technical mastery of light and lighting. During the photo shoot, they pay particular attention to framing, composition and staging. The aesthetics of the shot depend on this, and they may spend many hours fine-tuning every detail.

When it comes to staging, the food photographer may work alone, or in collaboration with art directors or food stylists. As an image specialist, his expertise lies in mastering all the functional, technical and managerial aspects of the project. During photo shoots, they bring their expertise to the teams they work with. The aim is to draw up a creative brief that showcases the product while respecting the client’s requirements.

The food photographer’s added value lies in their ability to create an image, adapted to a commercial approach, which captures the public’s attention.

© Ambre ELBAHRAWY

Qualities required to become a food photographer

© Mert GURSOY

There are many qualities required to become a food photographer.

First of all, you need to be familiar with the basics of photography, such as exposure, composition, focus and lighting. This means taking photography courses, mastering your camera, practicing regularly and studying professional photography techniques.

Staging plays a crucial role in food photography. Learning how to arrange the elements of a dish aesthetically, taking into account composition, colors, textures and appropriate props, is therefore a good way to start learning.

Lighting is also an essential part of food photography. Learning how to use natural light or how to create soft artificial light to highlight food, avoiding harsh shadows and unwanted reflections, can be very useful.

It’s also important to learn about food photography by consulting recipe books, magazines and online resources specializing in this field. Analyzing the images of renowned photographers and identifying the key elements of their compositions can help advance your image culture.

Develop post-production skills: retouching and editing photos are often necessary to achieve professional results. Learning to use retouching software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can improve the appearance of images, by adjusting color, sharpness and saturation.

To show potential employers or clients your skills in food photography, it’s essential to build up a professional-quality portfolio. This portfolio can be built up by starting to prepare dishes at home, or by collaborating with chefs, restaurants or food blogs to secure photo opportunities.

Last but not least, creating a website or online portfolio gives your work visibility. You can also use social networks to share your images, interact with other photographers and make contacts in the culinary industry.

Become a food photographer with Spéos

Spéos offers a number of professional photography courses enabling students to specialize or perfect their studio photography skills – most of them accessible at Bac level:

1-year courses:
> Professional Photography – studio specialization
> The Entrepreneurial Photographer in 1 year (RNCP level 6 – certification RNCP36195 registered on 25/02/2022, delivered by Spéos) – Studio specialization

2-year courses:
> Professional Photography in 2 years – studio specialization
> The Entrepreneurial Photographer in 2 years (RNCP level 6 – certification RNCP36195 registered on 25/02/2022, delivered by Spéos) – Studio specialization

3-year courses:
> Professional Photography + video/3D – studio specialization
> The Entrepreneurial Photographer + video/3D (RNCP level 6 – certification RNCP36195 registered on 25/02/2022, delivered by Spéos) – Studio specialization

Spéos’ training programs cover all stages of culinary photography, from conception to completion:

  • Formulation or reformulation of the customer’s request: being able to quickly analyze and understand the customer’s need for visual communication. Take into account the technical and material constraints necessary for the shoot, in order to draw up a quote.
  • Designing the “creative brief”: definition and framing of the project by the photographer and/or the advertising or communications agency’s creative team. Presentation of the creative proposal and adaptation of its artistic angle to the client’s requirements.
  • Production management: Location scouting, set design, correction of plastic defects, lighting and framing checks, coordination and back-and-forth with art direction to determine which shots to send for post-processing.
  • Post-production: identification of the best-selling shots for the specific order (editing). Image processing and retouching using one or more professional software programs (Photoshop, Lightroom etc.) for final rendering.

Spéos’ photo training courses enable students to learn the trade of professional photographer and to specialize in becoming a food photographer.

The training provided to Spéos students enables them to acquire all the technical skills essential for both outdoor and studio photography. To this must be added the knowledge of post-processing: the mastery of image organization and retouching software.

Spéos also gives its students the tools they need to enter the professional world: portfolio building, image distribution techniques, intellectual property rights.

An essential part of Spéos’ teaching method: students following the school’s courses have access to a number of spacious studios, all equipped with top-quality photographic equipment. In their practical work, they are required to take photos of a wide variety of products, and to adapt to the constraints of lighting and lighting conditions.

An essential part of Spéos’ teaching method: students following the school’s courses have access to a number of spacious studios, all equipped with top-quality photographic equipment. In their practical work, they are required to take photos of a wide variety of products, and to adapt to the light and surface constraints inherent to them. In this way, they define their projects as closely as possible to a real-life professional situation. The aim: to train by practicing as close as possible to the demands and players of today’s market.

Jobs, careers and prospects

To become a food photographer, you need to have an artistic bent, develop photography skills, build a professional-quality portfolio and develop your own visual identity. Understanding business management issues and keeping up to date with industry trends and new technologies is also essential to the culinary photography profession.

Culinary photography is a demanding field that takes time and practice to reach a professional level. Patience and perseverance are essential to finding work in this field. Regular photography practice is the best way to experiment with new subjects, gain experience and become a food photographer.

> See the works of Spéos graduates in the studio
> Read testimonials from former Spéos students

© Manon POTHIN

Enrollment and Contact

Registrations are open all year round and subject to availability.
Feel free to contact Spéos if you have any questions about this program.
At any time you are most welcome to come and visit the school, just make an appointment!

How to get to Spéos Paris

Come by visit Spéos (preferably on appointment)!