The most in-depth review of the original Foodtography School course by Sarah Crawford. Including DSLR camera recommendations, discount codes, and a bonus FREE personalized photo critique from me! Updated in 2023.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links meaning I earn a portion of every sale made using my discount code. This helps support my blog and allows me to provide you with more free recipes and photography resources.
Use the coupon code 'MYVEGANMINIMALIST' for 15% off everything on Foodtography School (including presets, courses, templates, guides, etc). Plus, you'll get a FREE photo critique from me (scroll down for details).
Foodtography School is an online food photography course created by Sarah Crawford (formerly Fennel) of Broma Bakery. Through its easy-to-digest videos, it covers 7 crucial units that serve as a base for anyone trying to break into the food photography industry or just pick up an exciting new hobby.
I’ve been raving about this course ever since I first took it in 2018. Back then I had just moved from The Netherlands to the UK where I worked in my social media job and just took the course for fun, not knowing what it would bring.
Fast-forward to today, I’m enjoying a fulfilling and successful career as a food photographer!
Wondering what makes my review trustworthy?
- I’ve worked in the food photography industry for years and know exactly what it takes to launch and grow a photography business.
- My experience of having taken (many!) other similar courses allows me to see the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
- This review answers every single question I’ve been asked about the course both in person and through my Instagram Q+As.
- I wrote this review not just based on my own experience, but from having connected to dozens of other students of this course (some of them who are now my best friends!)
- It is completely up to date (as of 2023) and covers the new course update from 2022!
Let's first cover some of the most frequently asked questions.
1. When you purchase this course, you gain lifetime access. This means you can don't have to complete the course straight away after purchasing it.
2. Ideally, you will need a DSLR/mirrorless camera to take this course (if you don’t have one, iFoodtography School might be better for you). Their official website says you can take it with a smartphone but I think you can get far more out of this course if you do use a proper camera.
3. You can take this course completely at your own pace.
If you've ever checked out the Foodtography School website, you'll probably see that they offer more than just one course.
- Foodtography School (FS): The OG. Their most popular course. The one I took and the one that's reviewed in this post.
- iFoodtography School: A cheaper version of FS for those that don't want or can't invest in a camera, but still want to improve their food photography. You can also find this one reviewed on my blog.
- Advanced Foodtography School: A step up from the regular FS course. Aimed at those with some experience with food photography. More in-depth, but still suitable for various levels.
- Restaurant Foodtography: A food photography course that teaches you how to dive into the world of cafe and restaurant photography (great for diversifying your income).
The course starts off with a quick introduction which gives you access to FS's wonderful Facebook group. This is a community of your fellow students and a place where you can ask any questions that might pop up during studying.
It is then followed by these units:
- Unit 1: Fundamentals of Food Photography
- Unit 2: Composition
- Unit 3: Light
- Unit 4: Branding
- Unit 5: Editing
- Unit 6: Social Media
- Unit 7: Business + Marketing
Each unit is then further split into several sub-units. For example, in Unit 1, you will learn about the history of photography, camera settings, the basics of setting up a scene for your shoot, and props & background recommendations.
The beauty of this course for me is that you can take it completely at your own pace. There is really no right or wrong way to do it. Simply just go through it however fits your needs best.
You might be in a full-time job and can only devote time to learning photography on the weekends. Or you might be a parent or a carer and only have the time to work on it in the evenings. Perhaps you're someone that has cleared their entire schedule for the next few weeks.
Whatever your situation, you’ll have the opportunity to go through it exactly the way you want to. You can take a few weeks. You can take a few months. Or you could take years. It’s all up to you!
In addition to the 7 units, you also get access to an editable workbook & private FB group/
My honest opinion? You’ll get out of this course exactly what you put in.
This might sound like a cliche and you might be wondering how you can actually put that into practice. Here are my top tips on how I made the most out of my Foodtography School experience:
- Take great & diligent notes: I still keep the very first notebook that I used for note-taking whilst taking this course. Believe it or not, I refer to it on a regular basis whether it's during preparation for client shoots or when re-shooting old blog posts. Take notes the way YOU want to take them, print out photos for reference or maybe even use the notebook to track your progress.
- Be as active as possible! The more active you are in the Foodtography Insiders FB group, the quicker you will notice the progress. Plus, you'll be adding value to the community around you. You can use the group to post your own work and get feedback from your peers. Just as importantly, you can use it to comment on the work of your peers. Critiquing other photographers' work is crucial to your early progress as a new photographer.
- Practice your craft. Last but not least, practice is everything. Watching the videos and taking notes won’t magically improve your photography. In fact, it won't do much at all. I know it can be intimidating or even downright scary, but the more you practice the easier it will become. Practice, get feedback, analyze your work, and then repeat.
Foodtography is an informal word, a combination of the words 'food' and 'photography'. It's a shorter way of saying food photography.
You can enroll in the course for $997 (one-time payment). Alternatively, you can take advantage of the payment plan - 12 monthly payments of $97.
UPDATED: As of 2021, you can use the discount code MYVEGANMINIMALIST to get 15% off! This will take the price down to $847.45, saving you almost $150.
If you use this code you also get a free bonus from me - a personalized photo critique to help you get through those tricky early days of being a new food photographer!
Keep in mind that Foodtography School doesn’t offer discounts on any payment plans.
According to a survey, 94% of former Foodtography School students said the course was worth the investment.
For me personally, Foodtography School was definitely worth the money.
I earned back the value of the course when I landed my first paid gig just months after finishing the course (mind you this was for several recipes/shoots, not just one). I’ve said that so many times before, but Foodtography School was the best purchase of 2018 for me.
As a direct result of taking Foodtography School, I was offered so many opportunities.
- I worked with amazing local and global brands,
- I won a food photography award,
- My work was featured in a large spread of Thrive Magazine,
- As my photos improved my food blog qualified for Mediavine, earning me ad revenue each month.
- I earned long-term contracts with dream brands in my niche.
- I worked with restaurants, hotels, small brands, and huge international brands like Panasonic and Tala.
- I gained access to an incredible online community through the private FB group.
It's super supportive and there's something there for everyone. Whether you're excited about landing your first paid gig, struggling to find new clients, or have any technical questions about cameras, lenses, Lightroom, etc. you will always get to know someone willing to help. I got to know Ana, one of my best friends, through that very Facebook group.
There is some debate about whether or not you need a DSLR camera.
Technically, you can go through most of this course simply just using your smartphone. If you’re super determined and prepared to put in the hard work, you will most definitely get A LOT out of this course even without a proper camera.
However, it probably goes without saying that a camera is very much recommended.
If you’re just taking the course for fun and don’t seriously consider investing in a camera, I would recommend the much cheaper iFoodtography School (designed to be taken with a smartphone)
As mentioned above, the time this course takes will depend on your own pace.
To give you a better idea, there are roughly 11 hours of video content to go through.
What worked best for me is to take 1 week to complete each unit, bringing the total time spent on the course to around 7 weeks.
I would watch the course materials and make my notes during the first days of the week, then finish my course homework and get feedback towards the end of the week.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some units might be less or more time-consuming depending on your own prior knowledge and experience.
To give you an example, the unit on composition was more demanding for me than the unit on branding which I was already very familiar with from my social media & marketing job.
Will you need lots of fancy props and equipment? Absolutely not. A camera and a laptop are literally all you need (ok and internet access).
Of course, you could go crazy and buy a few extra camera lenses, an expensive tripod, and artificial lighting and spend a fortune on fancy props. But, that’s NOT what I would recommend at all.
In my experience, once you start spending money on gear, you will enter a vicious circle of never-ending purchases (trust me, I've been there).
More importantly, it will also take your attention away from what matters the most - your craft! I have a lot of people asking me which camera I use and I’m always happy to answer that. But remember, you are the one who makes the photos come to life, not your camera.
Photography is an expensive hobby/profession, but don’t forget that how much you spend is completely up to you. Examples?
I already owned an entry-level, basic DSLR camera before taking the course. Because I’d previously worked in graphic design, I also had an Adobe Photography subscription which includes both Lightroom and Photoshop for about $10/month. This meant that there were absolutely no hidden costs for me. I paid for the course in one go and that was it. I was ready to dig deep into it.
I took the course with my Nikon D3300 which you can grab refurbished for less than $200/£200. If you’re looking to buy a second-hand camera and you’re in the UK, I recommend CameraJungle.
If anything, having a cheap camera only made me a better photographer. It made me work SO much harder to make my photos work and look good. It took me over a year of practice until I knew I have really outgrown my camera and decided to invest in my Canon 6D and then a mirrorless Canon RP a few years later.
To put it simply, don’t overthink your equipment, stick with the basics and focus on your skills. Don't rely on the camera to do the magic!
Wondering how much space you'll need to take this course?
Absolutely everything can be done from home.
You don’t need a studio or a restaurant. You genuinely only need a tiny amount of space.
If you’re a student living in a dorm, you can totally take this course. If you’re flat-sharing (like I was) you can totally take this. If you’re living with pets, you better get ready for them to knock over your entire set all the time. But still, you can definitely take the course.
As someone that really loves working alone (hello fellow introverts), I really loved that aspect of the course.
The course taught me all the core composition principles as well as practical examples of how to shoot with perspective, capture movement (actual and implied), textural and contrast layering, and the importance of working in multiples.
I learned about the psychology behind colors and shapes, diving deep into what our eyes are naturally attracted to.
Despite already being familiar with Lightroom, I learned a whole lot about editing including how to get the white balance right, how to edit both light and moody images, and got familiar with the concept of color stories.
The most surprising thing I learned? It’s always better to underexpose than overexpose your photos!
The course was very easy to follow and in case you miss anything, you can simply replay the videos as many times as you wish.
Sarah Crawford is a great teacher – she’s clear and confident, but also keeps the content light, entertaining and funny when needed! This is something to keep in mind.
If you’re someone that prefers very sophisticated & serious teaching styles, this might not be the course for you. Sarah is known for her down-to-earth approach, which might not work for everyone.
To get an idea of what I mean, simply head over to her Instagram and check out some of her Story highlights. Have a look and decide if her teaching style and personality fit you.
If you’re someone that’s not a native English speaker (like me!) you’ll love the fact that the entire course has English subtitles. Seeing & reading the words can be a lot easier for many non-natives than just hearing so this is a huge perk! Not to mention it makes it far more accessible for people with hearing loss.
The course covers a very important part of setting up a business - branding.
Branding is a word that gets thrown around quite a lot these days. I feel like it’s one of those words you hear a lot, but many people don’t know what it actually means.
To put it simply, branding is what makes your business special, what makes it stand out from the rest. It’s a combination of many things that define the business such as logos, colors, slogans, mascots, tone of voice, etc.
Branding is a huge umbrella that helps define any activities your business is doing but also serves as a must-have base, the foundation of your business. If your brand isn’t clearly defined, your work won’t be recognized as unique.
This is where Foodtography School comes into play - with a help of a fun branding exercise, you will be able to define (or redefine) your brand and find a recognizable visual voice.
However, keep in mind that the course is not enough to fast-track you into a foodtography superstar!
As someone that’s been self-employed for just under 5 years and comes from a family of people who started their own business, I know that it takes a whole lot more to get everything up and running, let alone to ensure the long-term profitability of your business.
I wouldn’t want you to go into this course with any false impressions. I wouldn’t want creatives out there to spend their hard-earned money on a course that promises something, but does something else! This is why I’m completely honest & upfront - to run a successful photography or blogging business, you will need to go beyond what this course offers.
If you’re looking for more (free) resources on business, I recommend Skillshare – they offer fab video lessons on freelancing and setting up your business. Plus, they serve as a great extra resource on photography, pitching, and editing!
It's also worth searching for any local initiatives helping small businesses and creatives. You'd be surprised how many are out there. This is what made a crucial difference in my early days as a business owner - I started out clueless, in a foreign country with zero connections to anyone running a successful business.
Through fully-funded projects, I was able to participate in two 6-month business programs run by The Growth Hub in Manchester (UK) and take a 12-week business accelerator course FreelanceHER. Make sure to Google to see what's available in your local area - these programs were so important to me.
This course is aimed at people who shoot in natural light. As such, it doesn’t cover artificial lighting so don't expect to learn about flash, reflectors, modifiers, etc.
If you live somewhere where the natural light conditions are very bad (such as if your apartment doesn’t have windows or faces a huge building), this might not be the best course for you.
The course delves deep into Lightroom, teaching you all the basics on how to get familiar with the software. It also covers different editing styles and gives you handy tips on how to check that your images all have a similar signature look.
Being based in gloomy Manchester (UK) I found that taking photos in natural light wasn't working for me for very long.
I live in the very heart of Manchester, with all the windows in our apartment facing a brick wall of another building. Whilst, this feels very New York, it gets frustrating if you're trying to be a photographer.
For me, shooting in natural light was just not an option. This means I had to invest more time and effort in furthering my skills and eventually switching to artificial light.
This was the main drawback of the course for me. Having said that, my situation is very unique and many photographers work exclusively in natural light (including Sarah).
What remained a struggle for me was the journey after Foodtography School. I started to grow my social media audience rapidly and got brands to notice my work.
How to negotiate brand deals? How to write a contract that covers everything I need to protect my work? How do I go about offering different types of photo licensing? And how do I ensure I’m getting paid what my work is actually worth?
This is not covered in Foodtography School so you will either need to a.) figure it out on your own b.) get a professional to help you (e.g. a lawyer, a coach, a business advisor) or c.) take a different course specific to the business side of things such as Advanced Foodtography School.
Having said that, all of those were quite pleasant problems to have! Similar to that of many of my fellow students, one of my biggest worries before taking the course was that my images would never be good enough to get any brand deals.
To know that they are and that others out there love my work was a huge relief.
Are there any discounts available? Yes!
To save 15% off everything by Foodtography School you can enter the code MYVEGANMINIMALIST at checkout.
Alternatively, you can also choose to pay for Foodtography School in installments. This way, it won’t cost you a big chunk of your budget all at once.
What were my biggest wins after taking the course?
- Launching my food and product photography business Bloomlight Creative.
- Becoming a member of The Picture Pantry, a premium food photography stock library that only opens up to new applicants a few times a year and has strict admission requirements.
- Winning a food photography award by One Bite Vegan
- Signing 5-figure contracts with brands
- Reaching over 10k followers on Instagram
- Launching my OWN free 5-day food photography course
- Largely due to my photography, I managed to grow my food blog to 50k monthly sessions (and growing!) and qualify for Mediavine to earn monthly passive income from my blog.
Having said that, I do want to note the following. My story looks like a success, but that doesn't necessarily reflect everyone's journey.
I know several other students who have not (yet) earned back their money or ended up taking other courses to really kick-start their careers.
There are students that, despite putting in all their best efforts, weren’t able to make food photography their job. It’s not a winning formula that will yield results for everyone and anyone.
Lots of factors come into play: your location (the US market is larger and offers much more opportunities compared to some other places), your current skill level, luck, your patience, and your background in marketing and social media.
If you sign up for Foodtography School using my discount code MYVEGANMINIMALIST you will receive a free 2-page photo critique from me. See the photos below for an example of what a photo critique from me would look like.
All you need to do after signing up is email me with:
- your name
- 2 images you want feedback on.
I’ll get back with my in-depth photo critique within 2 weeks. My email is hello (at) myveganminimalist (dot) com.
Any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below!
I hope this review answers most of your questions about FS - I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible so congratulations if you made it all the way to the end.
I would also love to invite you to check out some of my fellow Foodtography School students. Some of my personal favorites are Ana's Baking Chronicles, Cupful of Kale, Butternut Bakery, and Cravings Journal!
Don't forget you can get 15% off everything on Foodtography School by entering the code MYVEGANMINIMALIST at checkout.
This includes all their courses as well as everything in their shop - Lightroom presets, brand style guides, media kit templates, sponsored post-pricing guides and more.
Did you know? I recently started a series of free Food Photography Tips! You can find them all HERE. If you don’t want to miss out, make sure you’re subscribed to my email list (scroll to the bottom of this page) and receive all the tips straight to your inbox!