Professional Food Photos With An iPhone

Posted on 8/18/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Will bloggers with the iPhone 5s and the VSCO Cam Photo App that enables control of focus, exposure and white balance change food photography and reduce the demand for professionally shot food images?

After reading this Wired Magazine story Brendan I. Koerner I asked Martin Skultety, General Managing Director of StockFood for his thoughts.

Hello Jim,

Thanks for your message.
I agree with Brandan in many ways. Technology is no longer the hurdle to shoot flawless food images. Just like Brandan, I'm also stunned about the many incredibly talented people out there sharing their food shots on social media websites.

However, I would put a big question mark behind the statement that nowadays in food photography "everyone is a professional". To create great food pictures at a certain consistency you need far more skills than choosing the best smartphone. The saying among photographers that "if you can shoot food you can shoot anything" goes for a reason. Professional food photography is often about discipline, teamwork and timing. It can take an entire day to get the perfect lighting, but seconds for whipped cream to run. Ever heard of any models being more cranky than that?
Chronicling private dining exploits might generate a lot of interest among friends and followers. A few smart posts can turn you into a social media rockstar. But from an income perspective, the stock photo market for random private food shots is small and completely oversaturated. Shooting impeccable images with faultless cameras just wouldn't pay for a living.
Joseph Beuys used to say that "everyone is an artist". He meant to say that we all have our creative potentials, no matter if evident or clandestine. He certainly didn't intend to say that everyone could make a living as an artist.

Most food image buyers are looking for exceptional recipes and highly creative arrangements. They are happy to pay for content to be used in their media or advertising projects. They don't want to waste time browsing around Instagram, by trying to identify people behind nicknames or by running into copyright issues. What they need is easy access to great, cheap and safe content.
That's exactly what agencies like StockFood offer. We source, select, keyword and provide all the legal guarantees.

By the way, we are actively sourcing the best talents across all major social media platforms and introduce their stellar images to the stock photo industry. Just check out

Kind regards
Martin Skultety

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Daniel Donnelly Posted Aug 18, 2014
    This is an interesting post, and it reminded me of a situation from about a year or so ago. One of the magazines I subscribe to, VegNews, decided to use some food stock images without first checking to see if the images were actually comprised of Vegan products (a burger supposedly looks like burger whether it's Vegan or non-vegan, or at least the art director and I thought so).

    When several readers decided to check (for whatever reason) to see if the stock images they used were Vegan, they found out they weren't, and a flurry of emails by irate Vegan subscribers flooded the publisher's inbox and the food forums, with threats of canceling subs.

    After being caught, the publisher promised to only source photos of Vegan food from now on. Of course, the reason they tried to use regular stock food, was that having a photo shoot done is too costly, and there aren't a lot of qualified Vegan food stock sites, or Vegan specific images out there.

    And, of course, just having someone take a low-light, poor quality image of a Vegan burger won't cut it in the final print. People want to see beautifully-lit, quality images of food, just like they want Photoshopped models without blemishes and wrinkles. We don't care if it's fake and will never look like that in real-life, we want the fantasy of knowing it could be that way.

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