I get asked a lot by potential clients “What does it look like to do recipe photography”? So I figured I would write something up on the topic. Recipe photography is one of my favorite things to do. It allows me to explore the food in a pretty cool way. It also allows me to eat some samples at the end. Generally there are two ways to do recipe photography. The first way is you develop the recipe and send it over. The second way is to have my team develop the recipe for you.
You Supply The Recipe
The first way that I always bring up is for the client to supply the recipe. The benefit of a client supplied recipe is that you know exactly what you want and you will get the exact results that you are after from the recipe. If you want a red velvet cake made exactly how you want it supply us the recipe and we will follow the instructions to a T. Depending on the number of recipes, the timeline, and the quality level the client wants we have a few options here. The first option is to hire a food stylist to work with me. When we hire a food stylist it allows me to focus on the photography and it allows the stylist to be more detailed. We can also get though more recipes per day if I am working with a stylist. The second option is for you or a representative from your team to come to the studio and work with me for the day as a chef/styilst. This is a great option for teams that have a lot of food experience. The third option is for me to cook, style, and photograph the recipes. The benefit is that we have a smaller crew and I am in total control. My favorite options are the first two. I find that with having someone to cook/style the food and someone to photograph the food things go just a little smoother.
We Provide The Recipe
The second option the client provides us with some recipe ideas or ways that they want their product used and we develop the concepts and the recipes. This is a fantastic way to work if you want to work on your business and not in your business. This gives us more artistic flexibility. The process here is a bit more complex. After you provide us with the recipe ideas my recipe developer will then flesh them out and we can send over a more detailed list of exactly what we will shoot. Once the list has been approved the actual recipe development will occur. The developer will create an ingredient list that they think will work for each recipe and come up with a basic outline of the instructions. This will then be sent to the client for approval. After approval the developer will test each recipe. After the recipes are tested we will then photograph the recipes. Typically on this type of shoot I will use the recipe developer as a food stylist and we will work together on the shoot.
What Do I Walk Away With?
This varies from shoot to shoot. As a standard I like to provide an ingredient shot, 3-5 process shots, and 5-7 final shots of each dish. A total of 9-13 shots per dish is normal. On more complicated recipes we may shoot more process photos. If a dish has amazing ingredients we may also do additional ingredient images. My standard usage rights for this type of work are to include rights to use on social media, and website. I offer additional usage rights for print and packaging.
What Will The Final Product Look Like?
Take a look at the gallery below to see what the client received from a shoot for Black Bean Brownies. In this case I worked together with a recipe developer that was provided by the client.
We Go Over Board
As you can see above some times we go overboard. When the client is on set especially if they are loving what they see sometimes we over deliver on our promises.
Wrapping It Up
Let’s wrap it up! If you are looking for recipe photography you are in the right place. I can provide a number of different options to photograph your recipes. I have outlined the two most common ways, but I am always open to something new. If you want to drive brand engagement on your food products recipe photography is a great way to do just that. It gives consumers a better idea of how to use your product when they can see it in action. The photography also helps to build trust when they see that the product does what it says it does. It also is a great way to redirect consumers on your website. You can always link to other products of yours that were used in the shoot.
Nick Bumgardner is a food photographer based out of Nashville, TN.