The 5 most important investments to make in your food photography

What to invest your money in for your food photography business
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A couple of posts ago, I wrote about how you can establish yourself as a photographer in the beginning of your career for under $1000, this incluiding the dslr itself, the lens, the course(s) and website.

Eventually, you'll come to a point where you are ready to move to the next step of your photography and you are in a position to spend a little more, looking to spend wisely and not waste your time nor money. That's why I have put together this article on the top 5 investments to make in your photography, when that time comes.

I use the term 'investment' here rather than purchase because 1) these are the pricier items that you'll most likely be spending a larger chunk of your money on and 2) These are for the long-term (I'm talking years here) and 3) You'll get 10x as much out of these tools in terms of elevated quality and improved photography all-round.

A damn Sturdy Tripod 

Seriously. I'll admit, this one took me a while to realise its importance but my goodness does having a solid tripod help.

The simple reason for this is that when you pay for a steadfast tripod, you are also paying for long-term stability,  horizontally-level images every time without edge warping, reduced risk of falls and injury (ever had a dslr and tripod fall on your head? Neither have I, and I don't want to!) and most importantly, minimised risk of camera and lens damage. 

Well, ok, but what is a good tripod? I've often found that word of mouth and reviews by other photographers are the most reliable sources of info. Two of the most popular are the Manfrotto and Vanguard range (I have an older version of the Vanguard tripod which has served me well from day 1, five years ago when I received it as a Christmas present). 

  • Vanguard Espod Tripod (the cheapest, but still with excellent quality or durability)
  • Manfrotto Advanced Tripod (The most popular choice and a fantastically sturdy tripod)
  • Vanguard Tripod with Arm (the priciest of the 3, but this has the added bonus of having a horizontal arm extension included, a must-have if you plan on doing professional looking, overhead food photography)


A course/mentoring specific to YOUR needs

After the inital workshops, books and Creative Live classes to get you started with food photography, the learning doesn't stop there.

Last  year I decided that I wanted more direction and clarity in terms of the direction my photography was going, and I was ready to pay for coaching from a more seasoned photographer. There were (and are) some very popular food photography courses being promoted on Instagram and as interesting as their offering was, I realised that it was not quite for me. How did I know this? Based on the photography style of the course instructor and that of the course alumni. It was impressive, very much so...but not the style I was personally looking for.

For me it made sense to enlist the coaching and expertise of Bella at Ful-filled. I have always admired her stunning photography and in all honesty, I wanted to know more about her creative process and and get an insight into her workflow. It was an easy decision and one that I am so grateful that I made.

This is so important: choose the course of the photographer whose work you admire, not just the one who is most popular on social media, especially if it doesn't align with your vision for your own work. 


Good lighting if natural light is not enough.

I've come to learn (and talk about it, many times on here!) that natural lighting is not always going to work in your favour, no matter how many modifiers and reflectors you use. And that's fine! The beauty of photography is that in this day and age we have artificial lighting, good artificial ligting. And if you're worried about the learning curve, start with a constant light rather than a flash (although Joanie Simon does have a fantastic course on flash food photography for beginners). 

If you don't know how much you should be spending here, I would say no more that  £/$125 is necessary, really (and even that's pushing it).

Andoer actually have a full double lighting kit plus clamps (believe me, you'll need clamps!) for less than $90.


Backdrops 

In my previous post about becoming a photographer on a budget, I talked about making your own backdrops. With only a few bottles of paint and large sheet of cardboard, you've got yourself a double-sided backdrop.

The next step from here is to invest in the backdrops which could otherwise not be painted at home (tiles, marbling, rusted texture etc). I have heard great things about a number of backdrop suppliers but the ones I have personally used thus far come from Capture By Lucy, and I cannot recommend them enough. Having a selection of 3 or so vinyl or wood backdrops will be extremely beneficial in expanding your own creative capacity, pushing you out of your experimental comfort zone and allowing you to get more comfortable with different photographhy styles (bright, rustic, modern and so on).

Your own time 

Yes, lets end on a good ol' cliché shall we? Because as over-said as it is, there is absolutely no getting around it. But for me this goes beond just 'spending time practising', and becomes more a question of making the time to practise. For those in a full-time job, whether it be in or out of the house, this means carving out the non-work hours to make time for your learning and development. When that is will be for you to decide. For me for example, although I work from home Mon-Fri and manage my own schedule, the time for personal projects and trying new things can only realistically happen from around 9p.m in the week, or on Sundays (Saturday I'm probably buying the products and ingredients for the shoot until late afternoon- you can see now why I'm so dependent on artificial lighting).

Bonus: but what about lenses??

So maybe you've got to the end of this article and wondering about investing in lenses, and indeed this is important. So important in fact, that I feel this article won't be anywhere near enough to cover the world of lenses, and a separate post focused solely on lenses will be necessary in future to go into detail about the functionalities and benefits of each type. 

What to purchase when expanding food photography business


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