This is part of my Makin' Bacon podcast, you can check out all the episodes or subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
Lori Rice is a professional photographer who built up her clientele by working with brands and networking at food and blogging events. We talk about when to pivot your blog, how to price client work, tips for photographers looking to improve, and how to get the most out of conferences.
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Jason Logsdon: Today we're gonna be talking with Lori Rice. Lori is a very talented photographer and writer, who not only blogging on Fake Food Free also works with publishers and major brands doing a lot of Photography and writing. So welcome to Makin' Bacon Lori, I'm really excited to have you here.
Lori Rice: I'm excited to be here.
Jason: Because we're food bloggers. One of the things I like to start with is on a normal day what does it look like around your dinner table?
Lori: My dinner table. There really isn't a dinner table. We have one but we never use it. It's just my husband and I. And typically he gets home from work, I get done working, and I still cook a bit. It's hard to live in the Central Valley it's kind of hot. So I don't do quite as much cooking. So we either get meals delivered in or I cook and it's usually a quick a quick meal while we watch some of our favorite shows and I don't mind it. You know, I kind of, I kind of like it that way. I mean, if we want to sit at the table we can.
Jason: I can definitely relate to that and despite everyone being food bloggers I've interviewed, the majority of them say "we don't have a dinner table really, we're always busy eating somewhere else and doing stuff". I love hearing how people kind of got started in blogging because I feel like people a lot of people come at it from very different directions. I wanted to talk about what got you into blogging originally.
Lori: I have a background in nutritional sciences and I worked in academia starting out in my career and then my husband got the opportunity to move to Southern Brazil with his job. And so we jumped at that opportunity. We both had really wanted to live abroad. But when we were living abroad, I couldn't work there just because of the arrangements with the visa and all the way those things work.
So I just kind of had to figure out some things that I wanted to do online and I started exploring food blogging. My blog started as a platform for kind of a nutrition background in my view on reducing processed foods and things like that. It's how it kind of started. And then it evolved more into making foods and I was exploring the foods where we lived in Brazil. Developing recipes, taking really crappy food photos, also created a bit of a community with people because that was in 2007-2008, probably 2008 is when my blog officially started.
But it also created a community that I was developing, a small community abroad but you know, you still don't want that back home. So I still felt like I was kind of in current trends and things like that by the people I was meeting online, really around the world.
Jason: That's awesome. What do you still cook that you learned about in Brazil?
Lori: Oh, what do I still cook? So a lot of the simple salads. Salads are super simple there with lime juice and just greens. One of my favorite dishes is roasted pumpkin with Gorgonzola cheese. There are a lot of the lunch buffets. It's a different kind of buffet than in the U.S., not an overeating buffet. But it's per kilo. Those are really popular in Brazil, especially at lunchtime when people get off work and they go have it and come back. And so there were a lot of really interesting fresh salads with avocado. A lot of those fresh things I still make. I've yet to nail Brazilian rice and beans. My husband was able to get that every day at work and every time I make it it's never exactly like that. So I guess I'll just keep trying.
Another favorite combo that I discovered there is lettuce, sundried tomatoes and cream cheese kind of as a spread for sandwiches. Pineapple grilled sometimes or in a skillet with provolone cheese with it. Kind of interesting things.
There's a lot of meat too but I'm not huge on the meat side, so I don't make a whole lot of that.
Jason: So it sounds like with your blog a lot of it was about exploring what's around you and developing like a community and connecting with different people. Were you trying to monetize that in any way or is it more of a hobby or something to do.
Lori: At first I would have, I love the idea of being able to monetize it. I did experiment with ad networks and things like that. Sponsored posts weren't big anyway at that time. But I couldn't do those anyway because I was in Brazil and it would have been U.S. companies. But I could never really wrap my brain around that side.
My brain just doesn't work that way. I'm not a creative, I'm a scientist by nature that has evolved into a creative. But that kind of tech side there's just kind of this barrier in my ability to learn it. And so I guess I really didn't. Had I buckled down and really try to understand it I probably could have. But earning money from it at the time was just kind of a side idea that I didn't fully pursue.
Jason: That definitely makes sense. I think it is hard just using ad networks alone. Especially a lot of people I think start food blogs as a hobby or a way to connect with people. I think well now how can I make money and ad networks is what everyone turns to first and they're not necessarily the best way to accomplish that.
You had a traditional food blog that you really couldn't monetize to well and I'm assuming most of the content of what you're writing also wasn't probably applicable to mainstream American audiences.
Lori: Right, right, more adventure seekers. People that were kind of interesting in learning about world cuisines like I was.
Jason: So where did you take your blog from then?
Lori: Well from that point as I started taking more pictures and seeing how food photography was developing in other blogs. I started to understand that I was really liking 2 things. I was liking the recipe development side with my nutrition background. I have some background in food science, so I could do that. I worked in bakeries and things like that. So I had a skill at developing the recipe. And I was starting to really, really love the food photography and making the food look beautiful. Capturing what it represented culturally.
And so that is the point where I just kind of started leaning into that and I went through the process that just I think everybody does when they find something that they want to pursue especially food photography. You get the DSLR and then you start upgrading lenses and you start learning the techniques. So like I started focusing on what I was enjoying most about it. And that extended when we moved back to the U.S.
We were living in Kentucky at the time. At that point it kind of when we moved back in 2009, it was it was something I was posting 4 or 5 times a week with garden content, recipe content, and those kind of things.
Jason: I think your point about you really like the food photography so you're diving into those aspects of it. I think it's a very important point that there's so much that can go into a blog and there's so many different directions you can take it, that you should find the aspects of it that you really like and then lean into it. Like you said, you started in 2008 so it's been 11 years you've been doing this. Like you need to focus on aspects that you enjoy and bring joy to you. Otherwise, it's no better than any other job I think you can have.
So you leaned a lot into your food photography. And at that point, I feel like you started to stop viewing your blog as kind of like the main thing right and looking a little more into how could you promote yourself as a photographer? And as a as Lori Rice as opposed to Fake Food Free the website.
Lori: Right. Right. I felt like it could start to serve as a platform for what I was capable of. I knew that as a food photographer I needed to kind of develop myself outside of my blog to show that you know, I just didn't have just a blog that I just wasn't doing that that I was developing work for other people.
So it started really slowly for me with writing for some magazines and then I had a couple small career changes when we came back. I went back to academia and then I started working for a online weight loss website doing a food blog for them in house. And so that came about from being found through my food blog or finding my food blog through Linkedin and all this kind of stuff. So it one thing led to another. And that position eventually led to freelance which kind of launched all my other freelancing.
When we got to California I started a lot more networking. I was going to food events and met a lot of people. And through word of mouth, you know, people would say I you know had this offer for a food photography and recipes or running this blog was it they were at a point where it wasn't right in their price range. And but it was for me because I was just at that beginning stages. And it wasn't super low paying or anything. Don't want to say that it was free work, you know that kind of stuff. You needed to earn an income but it was a good stepping point for me.
And so then I started gosh a full-time food blog for a citrus company here in California. And then you know, you just start to talk with people who have consulted with them and then they went with this food company and then they remembered me and that's it kind of snowball really.
Jason: Did you find most of your networking from food conferences or from online groups? If someone's listing and says that sounds like an interesting thing that I'd like to explore how would you recommend them trying to start building that network as so on that's probably working from home and not having a lot of contact with other food bloggers.
Lori: Yeah. It was all in-person networking at conferences and small groups. I'll say two different things about that. One of them is that it hasn't been from blogger conferences. And blogger conferences everyone is looking for the same thing. So anyone who is there to present their product or whatever everybody wants that. My biggest suggestion is to both stay in food for your networking but then also go to things that involve your food blogging but are broader.
Like the International Association of Culinary Professionals. I wasn't a member at the time, but I went and volunteered when they were in San Francisco and we just moved to California. And I volunteered to help lead sessions and stuff, so I was able to go for free without being a member. And I met people there when we were stuffing bags and you know and all that kind of stuff. And these were people that had a varied work in the food industry. It wasn't only food blogger somewhere included. It was really diverse and I learned a lot about what other people were doing with this recipe development in photos.
I started doing photography workshops on my own learning workshops that I could find. And I got in I feel like I got into the lucky time at a point where some really, really good and well-known photographers were interested in doing workshops. I was able to go and that was been a few years ago or so, which is where I did a lot of my learning. But I also met a lot of people to either other attendees, things like that.
Jason: It's very cool. I love that idea of going to related but not food blogging events because like you're saying at a food blogging conference everyone there has at least an overlapping skill set of what they do. Or I feel like you go to a photography conference and they might even be able to take the pictures for you but might not be able to come up with any of the recipes. And you might have more collaborative relationship you could have with people.
Lori: Right. And there's I mean, there's journalism groups, you know in different areas too. There's, I'm part of the Beer Writers Guild. There are all these different groups that you can look towards that complement what you do but aren't necessarily food blogging. But you can also look at other blog conferences, you know, there are things you can learn from other blog genres you know.
Jason: I feel like your point about most of your networking was done in person too. As an introvert that doesn't really like going to like networking and talking to strangers. Everyone that I have a good relationship with that is a food blogger except for maybe two people, I met in person at conferences despite, especially five years ago, not being good at networking.
It was hugely valuable for me to go through that process and we met 4 or 5 years ago now at food conference and when we're in each other's town we meet up and hang out.
Lori: Right, we've been speaking to food blogging like I think the event we met at was the Produce Marketing Association, which was through a small organized blogging group.
If you kind of focus and go after maybe getting sponsorships and things like that to those smaller events where there's not so many food bloggers. There's Expo West Health Food Expo like you can go to those things by yourself or with a couple other people and network with companies and things like that.
And then also travel was really big. I went to the Women's International Travel Summit and they're all over the country. And there's a lot of people involved in food and travel, and so I learned a lot about travel writing that I've applied to food writing.
Jason: That's really cool. I definitely like that you said you volunteered at one of the events. Because I know I'm very, very different if I am a speaker or a I'm working there. I feel like I'm much more outgoing and friendly because it's like that's my job is to go make sure you're okay. Where if I'm on my own I get nervous and quiet. I think that's a real good way that if you're interested in go to a conference, see if there's volunteer opportunities. It will force you out of your shell and force you to interact with people in a way that's probably going to end up being pretty comfortable for you because you're doing your job and everyone knows that you're trying to help which I think you open up a little bit more to strangers.
Lori: Right and it also kind of puts you in a network of people who know a lot of people. Because you get in direct contact with the people that are planning these conferences. Which they themselves may not have work for you, but you develop relationships with them. While everyone at the conference knows them because they organized the conference. So just in all different areas you get an insider look of kind of what's going on by volunteering at those kinds of things. I think it's really beneficial.
Jason: And I think a lot of it is about your brand and your authority as well. And I think even though anyone can volunteer people do look at the people that are working there as more of an authority figure just because you have your fancy name badge and your official shirt. And it's a good way to kind of raise your profile without actually having done anything, as long as you don't abuse it.
Lori: You're totally right.
Jason: So you started getting these connections with these companies and you started working with them. Not really as a lot of food bloggers do by doing sponsored posts or influencer work, but as being a part of their team. What was a typical process of how you would work with some of these bigger clients.
Lori: So how does it come about or how do I structure that?
Jason: Both. I'd love to hear like, do you just call someone and be like, hey, I'd love to have a tour of your organic onion farm like this Tuesday work for you. But also once you get involved in it, what, what does that process look like? Of you show up and you're I'm here and you've hired me. What's the back and forth?
Lori: So typically they're going to approach me when they have a project that they need. I still kind of do like different tasks for different groups. They might approach me and say we need a recipe project and we need 2 photos. I come up with what my typical deliverable is. My typical deliverable is a recipe with 2 photos. You know base price that's what they used so the ones that work with me now well we're going to need you know me 10 recipes. We need 2 recipes whatever that might be.
I've done retailer projects, which means that you know, when you go to the grocery store and your get recipe card that has this pasta sauce on it. Those are coming from that brand, that pasta sauce. But retailers want that kind of thing for to place the stuff that's on their shelves for consumers. So I've done projects like that where you're working through the brand. And then I also work with PR agencies who are representing the brand, I'm like 50/50. Some I work directly with the company for the ad board and then some I'm working with the PR agency that's representing the board. So really the 2 things aren't so different. They pretty well have the same structure. You know, we've got this project, can you help us with it?
One example is I work with Oregon Hazelnuts. And so I work through their PR agency and they wanted to do a very large project that highlighted Oregon recipes, with Oregon products and Oregon hazelnuts. We came up with all these different things. I did about 10 recipes that they can feature to help market Oregon hazelnut. Most of these are going on their website. None of it is connected to me as a blogger. We work out the rights to the photos, how they can use the photos, how they can use the recipes. They usually end up on their website or they're going to be on a promotional card or something like that.
Jason: How are you trying to find brands that are out there that are looking for this type of instruction?
Lori: So I work with a smaller amount of food brands now and I work more with agriculture boards and ag organizations that are representing a lot of the fruits, vegetables and those kinds of things around the country and a lot of them are represented by ad agencies. So keeping your eye out there.
A lot of ad agencies that you can even do Google searches for ones that focus in food, and you can see who they represent, and you can reach out to them. There's no harm in reaching out. It takes a lot of sleuthing to find email addresses and things like that. I have some experience that with my freelance writing like finding editor email addresses and stuff.
So you just have to get savvy about it and try to find it and just send a very honest, kind, interest email. You can send your, your food blog as an example, but it's really good if you kind of develop as a side portfolio that kind of shows some of the images that you've done. And you can even if you those for brands on your blog or something or non-brands. You could just be your hobby projects. You can pull that into a website that just kind of showcases your photography and presents you as a food photographer and/or recipe developer. And then give them that website as well as your blog. Like I always included my blog in it too.
And then another thing is if you're have sponsored post right now on your blog. I do have some clients that evolved into working for special projects outside of my blog. So what you just you just have to tell them. My blog is kind of a hobby. I would really love to do some work for you for bigger projects, you know if you like my work. It's communicating in that way.
And then whenever you go to those networking and Expo events, this kind of stuff is just like pitching editors with articles. You're going to get so many no's, you're going to get tons of no's, but you just keep trying. You just keep introducing yourself. You just keep perfecting your work just keep getting better. And as that happens people will start to take notice of you.
Jason: I think it's also worth pointing out that it grows your network, even when they do say no and I'm sure you've had clients that you pitched semi-cold and said no and then a few years later you run into them under a different circumstance and now they are interested in what you're offering.
Lori: Right. Definitely. Yeah, and I mean there's absolutely no negative side to it. I mean food people are amazing. So if anything you're just meeting people you get to hang out with when you're in different places, you know, so it's there's no downside to it. Just getting your name out there and presenting yourself in a way that is I think approachable and not pushy and say here. I mean there's a fine line as there is with everything. When you're like here I am, I would love to help. And it's good to follow up because what you have to remember the people in these positions and we're all extremely busy. But you know, whatever marketing campaigns they're running they're probably running all different areas.
So don't feel bad about reminders. I mean most people love reminders when I send them to them. And what I consider my current clients, I still will send them email if I haven't heard from them for a while, I'm like, hey got any projects coming up? You know, just touching base and then it just puts you back on their radar. Because sometimes you fall off the radar not because they don't want to work with you, but just because other projects have their attention.
Jason: So do you generally retain the rights to the recipes in some form or did they own all the rights to the recipes in the photographs, in general? I know it could be a specific case by case basis.
Lori: Recipes I always grant full copyright because it's using their product and the only, you can change a recipe by changing an ingredient. So essentially that's no big deal. I've developed that for them. I had a really good relationship with all of my clients. I've only worked under NDA I think once, non-disclosure agreement, so I wasn't able to like re-shared the stuff. But for the most part I could share and all that kind of thing because I'm helping promote them and they then they like that. It's not a requirement of the work though. Which kind of distinguishes it from being blogger work.
And then with the photos typically it's no paid advertising like magazines and billboards that kind of stuff pulls a higher price that needs to be negotiated. But I don't put time deadlines on the photos that they can use. It's usually web, web use and print up to an 8 by 12 so they can use it for promotional brochures and different things. It's called, its internal and external collateral. So it's using that to promote them, but not actually paid advertising.
I have done some advertising things those cases. I retain the copyright and grant them all those uses. I do have clients that I that have purchased the copy full copyright for from me. And I do that if they want to pay for it it's fine. They can use it however they want to.
Jason: It makes a lot of sense. If someone was getting started in this and they've found someone that a company or brand that is asking for some recipes with some photographs. What would you suggest for them to either make sure that they have in a contract or make sure it's not in the contract? That just thinks that they should keep in mind to protect themselves as they start working with different brands.
Lori: You want to make sure that the rights are clear that you know what you're giving them and that needs to be stated because by default those rights always belong to you unless you give them away, sell them or whatever it is.
So you need to spell out what their rights are, and each person can decide what they want that to be based on the needs of their client, but that needs to be in there. And then. This is something that it hasn't been an issue for me. You kind of asked how things work with my clients.
Most of them they say this is you know our color deck. This is what we like. I give them 15 photos to choose from and they choose their 2 and I haven't had redoes or anything like that. They select the recipes from the list of choices. If there's recipes involved. You kind of want to protect yourself to have them send you images or an example of what they want. So that when you create it, you can be like well, this is what you sent me and this is what it kind of looks like, these are the same colors and feels. You kind of want that to be in the contract however you want to word it so they aren't like you have to do it over again.
Jason: That makes a lot of sense that you want to make sure you establish expectations of exactly what type of thing they're expecting to get photographs to be and I think it's good to establish that up front to make sure that you're not providing them something that they don't want and wasting your time doing something that you're not going to be able to profit from.
Lori: Yeah. Exactly. It's good to take a step back and to do a lot of research and decide how you want to operate. Because you can operate in any way you want to but you just have to make those decisions.
So I still have a lot of people that come to me and they don't understand why they can't just have full rights to the photos. Because they don't understand what it means and that I can't even claim I took them. And they don't want to pay for them. I don't do that anymore.
I had a client walk away last year because they went and found someone that would do it for cheaper and was like, whatever take them. And I'm like, well that's not fair to my clients that I have that are now paying for that kind of thing so you can do whatever you want. But you just need to make sure that you're clear and consistent, you know, with how you want to operate.
Jason: That makes a lot of sense. There are so many different ways you can approach it that knowing what you're giving up or not giving up and making sure you charge for each level of rights you're giving up. I think it is really important to keep in mind.
Lori: Right, right, and there's a lot of resources. I have watched a lot of YouTube videos what people talk about what they do and what you know, so I basically just watched all that and figured out what I wanted to do for myself. Because everyone does it different.
Jason: If someone is just getting started. I know you've been doing this for 5 or 10 years so this is not asking about your specific rates. But if someone's getting started and it's a first or second time, they're working with somebody. What does make sense for fair compensation for this type of work knowing that there is a wide variety of circumstances in it.
Lori: Right. Well for one thing you can approach it by first asking if they have a budget for the project. That's how I started approaching it. They should know what their budget is for photography and recipe development. And they should be able to give you a number. That's how I typically approach it now. A lot of them will be asking for bids.
The main thing is that you need to figure out how much you want per hour. I had a career prior to going out on my own and doing this so I had a base for what I could be earning if I was doing something else and what I should be earning now. The main thing is that I make sure I include all the time. When I go to the grocery store it's part of my time. So the clock starts there and if I have to go to 4 stores to find the ingredient all of that is part of the time. So all of that is added in.
When it comes to images it's difficult to give a dollar amount because it really depends on what they're going to use and how they're going to use the image. One of the ways that I like to kind of go and figure it out, which I think I told you this once is if you go to websites like StockFood.com and things like that. You can go to an image and you can put in the specifications for, you know, you want it to be printed, you want it to be, you know, advertisement or you just want it web-use and you can put in the dimensions and you can it'll give you a price for what that stock photo would be.
What I did when I first started out as I looked at the price of what a stock photo would be for something similar. Like pick something that has the same dimensions is going to be about the same work that you would do. And then look at that number because they can go to that website and by that photo for that amount of money. But you're giving them your special touch and maybe their product in it. And so you want to charge more than that. You just have to figure out what that is. But that's a good really good base to start. That's how I researched.
Jason: I think if food bloggers do that too they'll be surprised at how expensive those stock photos are. That I think a lot of food bloggers have a habit of undercharging not overcharging and I think your go there be like for a print and this and that it's $500 or $1000 for a generic photograph.
So you can charge more than $50 if you're going to put in the time and energy to do it.
Lori: Right, right. Yeah, and I'm a I'm a realist. I've tried to be really to be realistic about how, how my photos have progressed, so I charge less in the beginning because I wasn't at that skill set yet. I wasn't using that equipment. I wasn't undervaluing myself and I had a better fit with certain companies at that point.
But as I know of my skill set is increasing and I know you know, the people that I've worked with keep coming back to me, then you kind of get to the point, you know, you start to recognize you do have a skill on this and you will develop it if this is something that you really want to do. And so you gradually start increasing that price point every time you have a new customer come.
Jason: That makes a lot of sense and I really like you talking about you need to look at your overall time going into it. Because I think a lot of food bloggers don't approach it as a business and I know even I had a revelation probably two years ago when I was doing there's a sponsored post or some writing for a company and we had a bunch of e-mails back and forth in the shopping and all this stuff and I ended up making like $5 an hour working on it.
And then my background is in web development, so I do web development consulting. And I was writing up a new contract form and I have it down like if we talk on the phone, it's a 15-minute charge. It doesn't matter if it's a two-minute call. It's 15 minutes. If I do this, it's going on the budget. I was like, why do I have this whole list of things that I'm charging for like the right way. And then on the food blogger one, that's paying me like a fifth as much money per hour I am just doing random things for them and wasting my time and I was. This is what I tell people all the time to avoid and now I'm in the middle of doing it.
Lori: Right it's hard. It's a learning process. I mean, I'm still at a point where they'll be a I've got to put that in the contract or I've got to redo it you know. You're in the authority and in most cases, in most cases the person is coming to you looking for that authority.
So you have to tell them what is possible and what is not possible, without being, you don't want to be difficult to work with. What you but you have to as you get better at it, more knowledgeable you be like, hey this we can do, this we cannot.
Jason: You hired me for a reason because I know this and if you knew it, you'd be doing it yourself.
Lori: Exactly. That's exactly right. Yep.
Jason: Speaking of doing it yourself, you've been working on transitioning a little bit lately from going into brands and doing this type of hands-on work for them, to helping work with brands and food and drink entrepreneurs to teach them how they can do photography themselves correctly?
Lori: Right, right. Yeah, I still love the brand work that I'm doing but I'd like to be a bit more mobile and stick just with the clients that I have now because learning it's fun in the beginning to learn to clients and their ins and outs but after a while I found like - and it's you know, I think it challenging. And I've reached that point where I want to evolve more from service-based work, which is project, project, project and work more on a on a larger scale to help people produce the photos that they that they want to produce.
I think this really stems from whenever I was starting out. I hated going into Facebook photography groups and things like that because people are just like "oh this is off", that people critique without being asked to critique, critique. Everyone is numbers and ISO and this and that and that. And the reality of it is that photography is changing because you go look at Bon Appetit, you have a completely blown out image. So white balance and things like that are irrelevant. It's about creating the scene, you know, there are bad photos, but most photos artistically can be beautiful. You just want to create what you have in your head.
So part of it is I wanted to create a safe space for people with a lot of positivity about creating images that they were really happy with putting out in the world. Whatever that might be whether if it's for their food blog, or maybe they are a ceramicist and they have pottery, different products, or an artisan Food business, you know a new bread bakery. Even if it's you know an iPhone or that kind of thing that they're styling images that they that they really like.
Jason: What's your general tips for somebody that have a food product or even someone that's getting started with food blogging and wants to improve their photography and start to learn. What's kind of your basic first starting tips that they should focus.
Lori: You kind of need to envision what your stylist is. So there's lots of words you can apply to that rustic, messy, clean crisp white. You need to figure out what it is that you're trying to represent and then find props, boards, bowls that represent that. And when you start out if you stay really streamlined and don't kind of go all over the place, you can do so on a really strict budget.
I think the best thing to do is find a space where you're going to take all of your photos. If you find one space and you work with that space for a while and you start to understand the light just keep at it. People don't like to hear that they have to put time in it. But if you put time in the beginning and really work at it, then you'll start knocking them out.
There are things that you can do to start knocking out quickly. You can knock out 10 photos in one session. Once you get your process down its identifying the process.
Jason: I think your comment about light is so important. When I was getting started, never really having taking photographs of any kind much less food photographs and emulate what I was saying online once I understood light. I feel like there is a light switch with was flipped in my photography. Where I got 2 or 3 times better just from now lighting it correctly, without getting any better at plating or any better at angles or framing. Just having it lit. It was an amazing transformation.
Lori: Yep, it's definitely number one. The way that the light hits a certain food depending on what kind of food it is, it can change things dramatically.
Jason: I'd also like to reiterate your point about it takes time and especially learning. Earlier on in this interview you said you started your blog 11 years ago and putting up crappy food photographs that didn't look good. And then 11 years later, you're a photography consultant to major brands and helping people learn how to take amazing photos.
And I think everything we do as food bloggers is a skill. And if you put in 5 or 10 years of work on any of these skills, you're going to get a lot better. So if anyone that's out there starting out and feeling intimidated by not having the skills that you see other people have, none of us had those skills when we got started either.
Jason: Put in the time, it's hard. We want results, you know, right away. But put in that time and eventually you will develop all those skills that you need, I think.
Lori: Right. Taking advantage of just the passive time is you don't have to set aside blocks of hours to have a shoot. But whenever if you have 10 minutes and you are plating your breakfast, plate it pretty and take a picture take it over to the window and try a picture of it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Taking the camera and not even just shooting food, but just shooting things in general and start to learn the camera and the light can help as well.
I have a friend that she said I don't think it really looks like that I'm like, well actually my breakfast does look like that because I took the time to style it to practice. So you can gain those skills just in the everyday without you know having this like I'm going to practice for this time. There are opportunities to do it all the time.
Jason: I think that's a great point, we picture kind of this final dish in our head and then we try to make it happen in reality. And there's a big disconnect between what we think will happen and what actually happens, especially when you're first getting started.
Lori: Yeah, I think a simple one is if I put something centered on the place mat it's going to look like it's falling off the back of the placemat if it's a lower angle because that's what the camera makes happen. So just the more you do that the more you try to translate what's in your head to the plate. I think it will make it even better when you're really trying to accomplish something important.
You just start to learn and it doesn't have to perfect it in that session. You just you learned the tip. It's like oh it looked really bad on the brown plate, I'll put it on a white plate tomorrow.
Jason: So what is next for Lori Rice photographer, brand trainer, etc?
Lori: So, I've got this lofty goal for 2020. I've taught one in-person workshop on food photography, a small group here in town where I live. And I want to take that to online courses. And so starting to turn that small course that I did into an online course and then develop it into some really kind of what I'm hoping will be detailed interesting online workshops for specific food categories. So how to shoot meat, how to shoot beverages.
Side thing is my cookbook Beer Bread comes out in February. And so how to shoot beer and different things like that. So I'm looking to create an online platform in that, as I mentioned before, in that safe space who for people who are trying to really create themselves and put themselves into the photography.
And so the tentative name which I have I filed for the trademark, we'll see what happens. Is Creating You. So it's creativity and food styling and photography.
Jason: And who's the kind of the target audience that would be interested in one of those?
Lori: Yeah, so the target audience is food entrepreneurs. So anyone that might have a food product, Artisan food businesses and that includes creatives and bloggers and anyone that that a food photo might help develop their brand. And not just a food photo but possibly product photography that's related to food like linens and ceramics and things like that. And that might help promote their business that are wanting to do that work in-house. That's the that's the core for the people who are wanting to take the workshops, but it's open to hobbyists who are wanting to develop food photography as well.
I also want to take some of the expertise that I have and kind of a side thing with this is to work with small businesses who maybe want to outsource photography. Because there are times whenever you reach that point it's like, oh I need a big, you know poster and you can't take that photo with your iPhone, so you do need to outsource. So how do you find a photographer that is good for your brand, good to work with so navigating that process. So that's kind of a consulting side that I'd like to add it in addition to those creatives and entrepreneurs and things that I'm targeting.
Jason: Have you decided what platform you're going to be using to try to create the online courses yet?
Lori: Yeah, I am going to be using Kajabi for the online courses. So that's set up. I'm working on more list building and the courses are set to launch in early 2020. I don't have a date yet, but the first course will be set from there. And then that will be designed as more of a mini course. And so it's going to cover this workshop that I did here, which is what I mentioned about finding those words that represent your brand. Some very basic things that you need to kind of stay on a budget to create a small not studio but space to do your photos. And then those practical skills and things to incorporate will be in that first mini course. And then we'll dive a little bit deeper with some things coming after that.
Jason: About how long is it taking you to put together each course, just if anyone out there is interested in putting together a course of their own, I'm curious how long it's been taking.
Lori: It's going to be hard to say because I have some of the content from the in person that I did. I'm just getting started and for me, there's the learning curve of the Kajabi, it is very user-friendly, but I am going to have to learn how to do all that. If I had to condense, it probably a full month. So like get all that content together and work with it because I'm going to outsource kind of that PDF design on the are not PDF that the slides and things like that to help kind of bring my brand into it. So once by work was someone to do all of that I'm thinking it'll probably be a month to have the course content together.
Jason: And what are you going to be charging for the courses?
Lori: I don't know yet. It won't be super expensive. It won't be super expensive for that first course. The first course which should come in under $150, I can tell you that. I'm just not certain yet. As I develop more detailed courses and I have interest in from folks that might want to do those kind of one subject really dig into the creativity of the subject, than those courses may be a little bit more expensive and they might cover more subjects and be greater in length.
Jason: Have you run into any gotchas when you've been putting together these courses that someone getting started in courses should keep in mind?
Lori: Hmm. Well the big thing is just with my blog I haven't done a lot of list building and things like that. And like that's going to be a really key thing for me is to work on list building. So when it was like when you asked how much time, I'm still like very much the beginning stages of it. Because I'm kind of going back and creating lead magnets to kind of help that list building and I also have a list with Fake Food Free which are people who are following me for recipes and fun photos and things about me,` and I'm trying to develop that list for my new email list.
It's going to be content ideas coming out that are surrounding photography. So every week there's going to be a really helpful tip about doing food photography that's going to come out likely and quick video form. And so that content will be coming out every week and then that will lead to hopefully the course.
Jason: I think that's a really important point that the content you put on your blog should we structured to bring in the type of people and connect with the type of people that you're interested in currently connecting with. And that might change if you want to work with brands, then you may want different content on your blog than if you want to work with food bloggers or home cooks or professional cooks. The type of stuff you put out will draw in a different audience and you should be approaching it a different way based on what that audience is looking for in content.
Lori: Right, right and I struggled with that with Fake Food Free. I asked polls on Instagram and things like that from people who follow me. You should I evolve the list that I have on Fake Food Free. I decided not to do that but they're definitely going to get an invitation to because a certain percentage of them I'm sure are interested in the food photography.
But I really don't like it when people switch on me because I've had that happen a lot. Where you follow someone for one thing and then all of a sudden, they decide they do food and then all of a sudden they decide they're going to do fashion, which is perfectly fine. But that's not my interest or why I followed and then all of a sudden this is showing up in either your inbox or your feed or whatever. I was like, I don't I don't think I want to do that to people. So it's a little harder to start from scratch, but I'm going to do that.
Jason: I think it's the best thing to do personally as I'm currently transitioning to try to work more with food bloggers instead of home cooks necessarily. I created Makin' Bacon and just started with a mailing list was zero so I'm not muddying the waters and trying to serve to audiences. Because none of the Amazing Food Made Easy people care about food blogging. And none of the food bloggers necessarily want my recipes on sous vide, they want to learn about working with brands and writing cookbooks. I think it's good to keep them separate.
So you do, it can be frustrating. If you're like I have this nice, you know asset over here. I think in the long run it does it will pay off that it's very clear. You very good niche in each of them and you're not kind of cross polluting.
Lori: Right, right.
Jason: So if there are any food bloggers out there that are interested in taking one of your classes or they're interested in learning more if there's any brands that want to learn photography from you or hire you to do photography. What's the best way that they can get a hold of you or find more about you.
Lori: Yeah, the best way is to sign up for the newsletter, which is at its at my portfolio site, which is LaurieRice.com. So that's my photography portfolio. If the brand that wants to see my work my work is there. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, it's there which will give you updates on all the upcoming stuff for creating you and the workshops. And you'll be able to get the free download of my 10 Ways to Photograph Banana Bread where I go through 10 different creative ways to photograph it and why you photograph it for certain marketing purposes in that way. So that's going to be up there for those who sign up for the list and then throughout the rest of the year those get those updates and then my other contact information, name, phone number can be found at LoriRice.com.
Jason: Awesome. I'll make sure all that gets in the show notes so people can click on it instead of typing it in themselves. I just want to say thanks so much for coming on. I learned a lot about working with brands, photography and I really appreciate it.
Lori: Good. I really appreciate being here. I hope that I hope it helps some people for sure. I think this is a great endeavor that you have going.
Jason: Thank you. I'm sure it will help a lot of people.
This has been Makin' Bacon. I'm Jason Logsdon and we're helping you serve your fans grow your income and get the most out of your blog. See you next time.