• How I made $9,564.19 in Passive Income as a Photographer

    Passive Income: what it is and why you want it...

    Since I started incorporating passive revenue streams into my business I have made $9.564.19. WOAH.

    Passive income, otherwise known as “mailbox money” (my personal favorite term) is when you continue to get paid for work you’ve already done. Sounds great, right? For photographers, that can mean generating a regular income from the photos you’ve already shot, talking about the gear that you use, or teaching others. In order to create a passive income for yourself, there is a big investment of time upfront, but in return this ultimately frees up time for you to do other things. This is not a short term strategy, but there is a long term reward in it for you if you do the work!

    1. Sell Stock

    This one is such a missed opportunity among so many photographers I know. When I was offering one on one coaching this is one thing I recommended other photographers get set up with immediately. Especially for those who’ve built a solid portfolio and have tons of really beautiful unused images collecting dust on a hard drive.

    I shot personal projects when I first started with food photography - which were obviously for free. I photographed cakes, veggies, herbs, farms, and so on. Once I got to a place where I had what felt like was a good online portfolio of work, I had so many additional images that were not being used or licensed for anything. I started looking into stock and was really fortunate to have been contacted directly by a few different companies. Ultimately, I chose to go with Offset for a variety of reasons (pricing structure, copyright ownership, artist support… to name a few) - but there are several great stock companies to choose from! Make sure you do your research and compare them all so you can feel good about what you will ultimately be taking home from selling the images.

    2. Become an affiliate

    What is an affiliate? An Affiliate is someone who attaches themselves to a larger organization for the purpose of promoting or selling their products. Affiliate marketing is using your online platform (blog, social media, courses, etc.) to recommend products and in turn earn a commission from it. Simply put, it’s a referral program. Ideally you’re recommending products that you use and that you love. If you’re recommending crappy products, folks will catch on and lose faith in you - and the trust of your audience is worth a lot more than a one time commission.

    Affiliate marketing is a great way to get paid for doing things you would not otherwise make money from. For example: of all of the questions I get, the most popular one is “what camera/tripod/lighting/equipment would you recommend?” So, you know what I’m working on right now? A blog post that has all of my favorite gear recommendations with affiliate links. And anytime anyone asks me that question moving forward I’ll be referring them to that post.

    Things to know about affiliate marketing:

    The FTC requires you to disclose to people that you are making a commission from the links you are providing. In fact, it’s the law. Typically people just add in a line or two on their site. For example, mine is in my blog with the links and states:

    “Transparency: We may receive a small commission on sales of items linked above. That's how we are able to continue to create these posts and share this with you for free!”

    You do not need a huge following to become an affiliate. You can just apply! Just a quick google search of with your favorite store along with “affiliate program” will turn up some results. It is up to you to sell their products to make your commission so it’s a minimal investment for a company to make you an affiliate. This does not have to be limited to photography either! I have an Amazon affiliate shop where in addition to camera equipment I recommend food styling tools, props, etc. Once you set up shop you can recommend anything you’re passionate about, love, or makes your life easier!

    3. Teach

     What are people asking you about your photography? Do they want to know about your camera? Your lighting techniques? Settings? Lenses? What niche or special thing do you do that you could share?

    The way I teach isn’t 100% passive but that’s because teaching is one of my favorite parts of my business - mostly because it allows me to be around other folks who are excited about photography and are ready to learn. It shakes up my day to day and opens up even more travel opportunities (and travel is something I always jump at). Teaching requires you to develop all of your materials up front but then allows you to use the same materials over and over again. For the last couple of years I’ve been traveling around with an organization to several conferences and teaching food photography using the same materials for each one. I repurposed those same materials for a one on one setting and offered mentorships for a while. And then I repurposed the materials AGAIN for small group setting workshops. This allows me to take the travel gigs, teach for a few hours, and explore/rest/make connections the rest of the time I’m somewhere new. I’m actually heading to D.C. and taking the whole family for another teaching gig in just a few months. We’re extending our trip and making it a vacation (that pays for itself!)

    You most certainly don’t have to be as hands on with teaching as I am. If you aren’t able to commit to travel or in person teaching and want to make this method 100% passive you can automate your educational materials and sell it as an e-book or digital download!

    For more on passive income and food photography join us in our private facebook group where we discuss all things photography, creative business, offer feedback, answer all of your burning questions, and provide good 'ol encouragement and community! 

    You may also be interested in our FREE guide - 5 ways to immediately improve your food photography

    Make sure to pin this one - so you can reference it later!



  • Food Styling 101 - my top five beginner must have tools

    I see you. You’re creative, you love food, you're moved by food photography, you have a passion for cooking, you love the story behind a dish, and the moments surrounding creating a beautiful meal.

    You've dabbled in food photography or you're a seasoned pro, but you feel a bit lost when it comes to food styling. You want to learn more about food styling, or improve on your styling so you can take better photos. But you aren't sure where to start, how to learn, or what you need. It took me years of research, trial and error (so much error!), and experience to learn exactly what I needed in my food styling kit. And now, I want to share that knowledge with you - FOR FREE.

    Below is a list of my top five beginner must have items in my professional kit and how I use them. I've also included links to either the exact item I have, or a similar option. 

    1. cotton gloves - must have when moving plates, glassware, and flat ware around to avoid leaving finger prints.

    2. toothpicks - stacking pancakes, building sandwiches, creating artful garnishes, so many uses!

    3. fine mist spray bottles - condensation, freshly washed veggies, adding water droplets.

    4. vegetable glycerine - a mix of 50% vegetable glycerin and 50% water will create the perfect water beads that will last. (this is what is in my fine mist spray bottles!)

    5. culinary torch - to caramelize sugar, melt fat, add char, and reheat anything that might be “dying”. make sure to adjust the torch strength before firing!

    Food styling is 100% about problem solving and being able to come up with creative solutions, quickly. The more prepared you are, the more professional you'll look and the lower the overall stress level of the shoot. And, with the right tools you can relax and focus on making the food look it's best!

    Can't wait for more? To shop everything I recommend you can visit my amazon shop

    Make sure to pin this one - so you can reference it later. Both my intermediate and and advanced food styling tool lists will follow shortly! Make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss them!

    Transparency: We may receive a small commission on sales of items linked above. That's how we are able to continue to create these posts and share this with you for free!


  • Mexican Street Corn

    Original post for SIMON can be found here

    Having recently returned from a month-long trip in Los Cabos, Mexico, I was anxious to incorporate some of those flavors in my cooking back home. I was there working as a food stylist for a cookbook and made sure to taste test everything we photographed — for research purposes of course. I’m already a big fan of Mexican cuisine, and you’d think I’d be tired of it after a month, but when I returned home I couldn’t wait for more. This grilled corn recipe is so simple and such a crowd pleaser — I mean, you don’t even need utensils or a plate to eat it. Enjoy!

    Mexican Grilled Street Corn
    Serves 4

    4 ears shucked corn

    ½ cup crumbled feta or Cotija cheese

    ¼ cup mayonnaise

    1 tsp ancho chili powder

    ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

    1 lime, cut into wedges

    1. While preheating your grill, shuck the corn and tie back the husks.

    2. Once the grill is ready, place the corn directly on the heat, rotating occasionally until cooked through and lightly charred on all sides.

    3. Remove from grill and spread a spoonful of mayo on each corn cob. Sprinkle cheese, cilantro, and chili powder over all sides of the corn. Top with a squeeze of lime and serve immediately.

    Bon appetit!


  • Watermelon Gazpacho

    Summer is just around the corner and we’ve already had a few 90 degree days here in Austin. Those temps make me want to dive head first into Barton Springs and eat this gazpacho for every meal. Gazpacho has to be one of the easiest things to make, the most time consuming part being chopping. Although, with my new Vitamix Ascent 3500 this recipe is only two *super easy* steps. I’ve partnered with TheFeedFeed & Vitamix to bring you this incredible, super simple recipe.

    I’ve made gazpacho before, with what I thought was an amazing blender. But, this Vitamix makes all the difference. The Ascent 3500 has a touchscreen, is dishwasher safe (OMG YES), offers multiple programs, and even has a self cleaning mode. Can you fall in love with a blender? Because I think I just did….

    If you’ve got this beauty already in your kitchen arsenal then ignore the dicing instructions (except for the garnishes of course). Spend less time by just roughly chopping, throw it all in the blender and watch the Vitamix make the smoothest gazpacho of your life. If you don’t yet have the Vitamix - it’s currently on available through many great retailers as well as online, so now would be the time to treat yo’self.



    4 cups of seedless watermelon

    1 english cucumber, diced, reserve 1/4 for garnish

    1 large tomato, diced

    1 red bell pepper, diced, reserve 1/4 for garnish

    1 garlic clove

    1 green onion stalk, sliced

    1/2 red onion, diced, reserve 1/2 for garnish

    2 small beets, roasted and diced

    1 handful chopped cilantro for garnish

    4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tbsp for garnish

    3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    1 serrano pepper, sliced and seeds removed (optional)

    freshly ground pepper

    sea salt

    crumbled feta, for garnish

    Set aside the diced cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, green onion, and feta, to use later for garnishing. Add your watermelon, cucumber, garlic, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, beets, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and serrano pepper, if using to the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. To serve pour into a small bowls or jars and top with the reserved ingredients for garnishing and top with a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

    *serves 6

    This post has been graciously sponsored by TheFeedFeed & Vitamix - all opinions expressed are my own

  • Chai Spiced Poached Pears with Mascarpone

    Full disclosure; I’m a food stylist, not a chef. It’s my job to make food look beautiful but by no means would I consider myself a superstar in the kitchen. Anything that is effortless and elegant is right up my alley - and these chai spiced poached pears are just that. Most of the recipe is hands off and it’s nearly impossible to fail and guaranteed to impress your guests.

    Serves: 4

    • 4 ripe but firm Bosc or D’anjou pears, peeled
    • 1 cup of mascarpone cheese
    • 4 chai tea bags
    • 3 cups boiling water
    • 2 tbs honey
    •  2 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 tbs ground cinnamon

    1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add chai tea bags. Let the bags steep for 8-10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the honey. Add the pears, cinnamon sticks, and add just enough water to barely cover them. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-35 minutes, or until the pears are tender. Remove the pears with slotted spoon and set aside.
    2. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Let boil until syrupy, about 30 minutes.
    3. Place pears in a shallow dish or bowl. Pour some of the warm poaching syrup over the pears and add a spoonful of mascarpone on the side. Dust with cinnamon and serve immediately.

    tip: place the peeled pears in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning. 
    Bon appetit!
    - ashleigh
    **origianl post can be seen here