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Chef Turned Photographer now Earns $134,000 by Clicking Pictures of Food; Here's Why it Worked

From Career Trials to a $100K + Side Hustle here's How a 30-Year-Old Millennial Found Success in Photography
Image Source: Photo by Sander Dalhuisen | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Sander Dalhuisen | Pexels

Looking at Sean Audet's journey, it seems like he jumped through different hoops, from studying biochemistry to becoming a skilled chef and teaching at a local college before discovering bis passion for photography.

In 2016, Sean, with his culinary background, landed a gig in recipe research and development at Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada, and he also taught a class on "pastry arts." His journey towards photography began when the college started assisting local restaurants with plating, photographing, and advertising their dishes. An intrigued Aurdet decided to try his hand at photography with a borrowed camera. By 2020, he felt the momentum building up, enough for him to take the bold step of quitting his jobs at the college and as a chef at a pop-up restaurant to fully embrace photography.

Image Source: Photo by Lisa Fotios | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Lisa Fotios | Pexels

Sean's freelance photography has become the most financially rewarding pursuit of his career, and his business raked in around $133,900 in US dollars last year. What's interesting is that most of his clients come from Fiverr, a freelance platform that he credits for the majority of his business.

Despite putting in up to 60 hours per week, Sean cherishes the ability to control his schedule and indulge his creativity daily. For him, the freedom that comes with being his own boss and pursuing his passion is invaluable.

Sean Audet didn't dive headfirst into full-time photography. He had to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet while learning and building his photography side hustle into a business.

Image Source: Photo by cottonbro studio | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by cottonbro studio | Pexels

In 2018, when Audet started his photography journey, he was pulling in an annual income of about $56,500. This money came from his roles at the pop-up restaurant, a culinary venture he initiated with a friend, featuring an elaborate seven-course tasting menu, and his job at the college. Although Audet found himself working 12-hour days, seven days a week, he watched YouTube videos to enhance his camera skills in whatever time he could squeeze out.

According to Audet, managing two or three jobs is time-consuming, and sacrifices are inevitable. However, he views it as a necessary part of the process when you're working towards building something meaningful.

Image Source: Photo by Yuri Yuhara | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Yuri Yuhara | Pexels

He closed his pop-up restaurant and brought in $53,276 that year. With all his attention focused on photography, and higher-quality equipment, Audet nearly tripled his revenue over the next two years, booking major clients like McDonald’s and Campbell’s.

Today, he charges anywhere from $1,000 to $17,500 per shoot. Sometimes, different shoots have expensive requirements and Audet has spent up to $19,000 a year on location rentals, models, stylists, and additional on-set help.

Sean Audet has no plans of changing career paths again. However, this doesn't mean he's resting on his laurels; instead, he is actively exploring new avenues for growth. In addition to his expertise in food photography, he has expanded his portfolio to include beverage and cosmetics projects.

Image Source: Photo by Amar Preciado | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Amar Preciado | Pexels

Looking beyond his current location in Winnipeg, Audet envisions broadening his reach while simultaneously transforming his city into a production hotspot. His goal is to collaborate with other local photographers, fostering a sense of community and contributing to the growth of Winnipeg's artistic reputation. Audet is also keeping a close eye on emerging technologies, such as generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney.

Reflecting on his freelancing journey, Audet acknowledges the challenges but emphasizes the numerous benefits he enjoys. The autonomy over his time and lifestyle, in his opinion, is priceless.