Contributor Conversations: Mythja on the recipe for a successful food photography business

Chad Verzosa

For decades, food photography was merely an afterthought for most photography enthusiasts. In many ways, it was a strictly commercial genre limited to advertisements and restaurant menus. 

Since the advent of Instagram and Pinterest, however, it has since grabbed the attention of the masses, and now holds a veritable place in both social media and beyond. 

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If you’re a budding food photographer, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the mouthwatering photos of Mythja. A food stylist, videographer, and photographer all in one, her work is a smorgasbord of rustic dishes that will make you wish you were holding a fork (or a camera!) once you set your eyes on them.

Find out more about how this healthy-living food photographer creates her photos and how she manages to balance her artistic vision with commercial appeal.

Turning a hobby into business

Mythja’s passion for photography started about 13 years ago as a way to capture her adventures both in and out of the kitchen.

“I learned a lot about photography, and decided to try it through product and still life—mostly to document my own cooking and recipes.” she says.

As her passion for photography grew, she started looking for ways to turn her pastime into something that could generate money: “I decided to try and see what I could do with my photography, and found out stock was a great [way] to start placing my photos.”

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After years of being in the business, Mythja now has thousands of photos that feature a wide variety of foods from freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables to gourmet-quality soups and pizzas.

What separates Mythja from other photographers is that she understands the recipe for mixing art and business. Although most of her images are frame-worthy still lifes, she also composes options explicitly for stock photography. By providing generous amounts of negative space, many of her photos are particularly useful for clients that may need an area to place text or other graphics.

Working with passion

Food photography can be quite a demanding genre. Apart from learning how to operate the camera, you also need to know your way around the kitchen. Thankfully for Mythja, she’s just as passionate about cooking as she is with taking photos.

“I find it very relaxing, and I am also into healthy food, so I spend a lot of time exploring all sorts of new recipes.” she shares.

In fact, she loves healthy living so much that she grows her own produce in her garden.

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“There’s something gratifying in such a process… to know where your food comes from.” she says.

Consequently, her images reflect her attentiveness to the ingredients she uses in her meals. She captures photos so naturally, you can almost taste the food and feel the texture of the wooden table it’s lying on.

Capturing the essence

Mythja’s photos may appear effortlessly-composed, but she actually spends a great deal of time setting up her dishes.

“I try to capture the essence of every dish,” she says, “First, I try to imagine the scene, and I write down what I would like to achieve.” Once she finishes her list, she begins organizing what she needs for her shoot: “I plan on a setting and then prepare the ingredients I will shoot. Then I cook, and arrange the setting with the dish.”  

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The secret to the homey appearance of Mythja’s photos is that she predominantly uses natural light for her photo shoots.

“I prefer natural lighting when possible,” she shares. “But I also have a fully equipped studio, in case of poor weather conditions.”

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However, with so many elements to deal with, occasional mishaps are inevitable.

“Well, there were a few unfortunate accidents,” Mythja admits, "Like an exploded pressure cooker and spilled soup all over the photo set up. I also got attacked by bees while shooting in the garden.” Despite the difficulties (and sometimes dangers) that she faces, she is still able to remain consistent with the quality of her work.

Food for thought

Talking to Mythja about her creative process, it becomes apparent that for her, food photography is more than just cooking and casually taking photos.

“The best advice is to be patient,” she says, “It takes time to know your food and [learn] how to present it in the best way.”

Breakfast food. Croissants on table with fresh fruit

If you want to go beyond snapping food photos for Instagram and turn your photography into a career, you need to think beyond just pressing the shutter. Remember that in reality, it takes a lot of effort to create images that appear effortless.

Nevertheless, Mythja points out that it’s just as important to have fun. This type of career may require a lot of sacrifice and hard work, but if you already love food and photography, it shouldn’t feel like work at all.