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3 Tips for Finding the Right Packaged Food Photographer

Highlighting a Granola Company from Shirley, MA

Written by Mark Mendoza on March 29, 2021

Are you looking for a photographer to shoot your packaged food products but not sure where to start? The best advice I can give to someone in the early stages of research is to head straight to each photographer’s portfolio. 

Then, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Does this photographer specialize in food photography?
  2. Does he or she also specialize in product photography?
  3. Do I like the photographer’s overall aesthetic?

If you want to get the best possible photos for your investment, it is important to realize that food packaging photography in particular is a niche. It requires a combination of skills derived from experience in both product and food photography, as well as the right equipment in order to get high-quality, marketable images. 

Let’s break down these three essential questions that will help you find the right photographer.

  1. Does the photographer specialize in food photography?

This is a recurring theme of mine: it is essential to hire a photographer that specializes in the exact type of photography you need.  

In other words, don’t hire a product photographer to shoot your wedding. Or a wedding photographer to shoot your products. The equipment, techniques, and skills acquired over time are so varied from one niche to the next that it is nearly impossible for a person to excel at them all. How can you be sure they specialize in food photography? Don’t take their word for it. Take a look at the photographer’s portfolio. Make sure they have a variety of images displaying their food photography experience. For example, I have an entire section dedicated to food photography with a wide assortment of images from a number of different shoots.

  1. Does the photographer specialize in product photography?

The thing that makes food packaging photography unique is this: while it’s important to show off how appetizing the food is when it’s plated – you’ll also want to show off the food in its packaging. Incidentally, food photography, while a subset of product photography, requires its own set of tools and expertise. So, in this case, it’s essential to find a photographer who specializes in both. 

Again, you’ll want to head to each photographer’s portfolio to make sure he or she has a variety of high-quality product images to share. For more information on how to find the right product photographer for your shoot, check out these tips. 

  1. Do I like the photographer’s overall aesthetic? 

Before deciding whom to hire, make sure you scrutinize each photographer’s work closely  because, ultimately, ten different photographers will end up shooting ten different ways. So this last question is mostly a matter of personal style, with a touch of ensuring the photographer matches your company’s marketing ideals. For example, my approach to marketing photography – whether it’s for packaged products or plated food – is what I call “product as hero”. Basically, this means the focus of every shot will always be my client’s product. 

This approach affects the entire process of the photoshoot – the planning, set-up, props, how the photos are shot, and the final editing of the images. 

Food Packaging Photography Shoot in Shirley, MA

I did a shoot recently for Golden Girl Granola in Shirley, Massachusetts, that featured both their plated food and their food packaging. These images were for a Edible Boston’s online Christmas edition. Since they didn’t have the budget for a professional food stylist, I assisted with setting plating and prop selection, including pinecones, red ribbons, and a small tree with red ornaments. The key here was to always keep in mind the “product is hero” philosophy. 

From a set-up perspective, this means keeping props simple and uncrowded. When it comes to the actual shoot, I almost always shoot from table height, looking slighting upward at the food or packaging. This camera angle visually emphasizes the product, making it look more powerful and impressive than if you were to shoot it from a higher angle or from above. 

Finally, when it comes to editing the photos, I employ a shallow depth of field which blurs much of the background and props – making the product the focus. 

The result is a set of quality images that show off how appetizing the food looks when plated while also highlighting the branded packaging.  

The main takeaway? Whenever you are researching photographers, make sure to find someone who specializes in your particular need and then head straight to their portfolio to check out their images. 

If you’re looking for food, food packaging, or product photography in New England, contact me. I’ll be happy to help you plan your next shoot.

Tags: professional photographer, food photography

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