How many shots can a food photographer do in a day?

How many photos can a food photographer shoot in one day? It all depends on the complexity of the photos. You can see where one type of food photo would take longer to shoot than the other.

How many food photos can you do in a day?

Usually, a client will come to me with a set number of food photos that they need to have shot and will want to know how much it will cost them. Since I basically charge for my time, and so do all my subcontractors, I will need to figure out how long the shoot will last. To do that, I will need to know what type of photos that the client is expecting. You just can’t ask my what do you charge per shot. It’s like asking a restaurant owner how much they charge for a meal. Do you want hamburger or lobster? To the photography team, it all depends on what you, as the client, need and expect. Here are the major factors that determine how many photos we can do in a day.

Simplicity / Complexity

Some food photography clients need very simple photos, maybe a cookie on a plate, on a white background. Other clients may need a full dining room set, complete with turkey, all the fixings, and maybe even a few models to round out the feel of the holidays. You can imagine that the cookie shot would take less time than would the turkey shot and would affect how many shots could be done in any particular day. If you want me to accurately estimate the number of shots we can do in a day, you’ll need to describe how complex each shot will need to be.

Number Of Food Items Per Photo

As you can imagine, the greater the number of food items in one photo, the longer that photo will take to complete. Each food element will need to be prepared and styled, but will need to be included in the food photo’s composition and lighting scheme. This all takes time and the more elements, the more time it will take. The more time each shot takes, the fewer shots we can do in any one particular day. Food styling takes a lot of time, and the more food there is to style, the longer it takes.

Similarity of Shots

The actual time it takes to take a photo is about 1/250th of a second. It’s the setting up that takes all the time. Deciding on a background and props takes time. Getting everything onto the set takes time,, composing and lighting takes time. Getting the camera angle, and correct focus takes time. It all takes time, but lets say that shot #2 is exactly like shot #1, except that the cookie in shot #1 is chocolate chip instead of a ginger snap. The time it takes to do shot #2 will be FA less than it took to do the first one and lets say you had a dozen flavors to shoot like that. You can see where you could get a lot of those shots done in a relatively short period of time, whereas if you need to change out the background, the props, the camera angle, the number of cookies in the shot, the lighting, it would take substantially long per shot. It might take a LOT longer.

Food Stylist Or No Food Stylist

A food stylist will make almost always create better food for photography than will a chef. That’s what they specialize in doing. To create this degree of perfection, takes time.   Chefs are faster than stylist. There’s no denying that. So, as a client, you need to make the decision as to just how perfect you want these photos to be. Perfection takes time. Working with a stylist, we usually average around 4-6 shots in a day whereas working with a chef, we can usually double that, if not triple that.  (What does a food stylist do?)

Time Required For Food Prep

Another factor that affects the number of shots we can do in a day is the amount of time we need to style a particular type of food. As an extreme example, a cookie takes less time to prep than does a turkey. Enough said…

Studio or Location

Some clients insist on shooting food in their restaurant of test kitchen. This has an effect on the number of shots we can do in a day in that we need to pack up for the move and unload all our equipment. This takes time that we could be shooting, but there are times when this is the best decision. It’s just a factor.

Assistant Or No Assistant(s)

Having a photo or stylist assistant involved with the shoot makes the shoot a little more expensive, but may actually reduce the price per shot by making everything run more efficiently, allowing us to get more shots done in a day.


As you can see, there are many factors that go into estimating the number of shoots that we can do in a day. So if you call me or email me ask me this question, you’ll need to be able to able to supply the answers to a few questions…

  • What foods will we be photographing?
  • How many shots do you need?
  • Will the shots contain a single food product?
  • Will each food photo be all shot on the same background or different backgrounds?
  • Will the shots be “outlined” of white, or will they be in environments?
  • Do you prefer to shoot in a studio or on location?

I hope this helps you become a little more familiar with what goes into a food photography shoot and what goes into determining how many shots a food photographer can get done in a day. If you have any specific questions you’d like to ask me, you can either email me or call me 412-232-4444. I’d be glad to help out in any way I can.