April 13, 2024

Interview with Julee Ho on Photography Trends


Julee Ho.


Country: United States

Photography Genres: Food

Fave Camera Brand: Canon

Instagram | LinkedIn

What’s in your camera bag?

  • Canon 6D
  • 50mm lens
  • 100mm macro lens

Where do you get the latest news on new gear? Where do you usually buy new gear?

I’m not a big gearhead. I spend most of my resources on education and improving my food photography and storytelling expertise.

How is photography making the world a better place in 2024?

When done right, photography and video production can make us feel deeply connected to one another. Intentional visual production that dives deep into a brand and the real people behind it creates a feeling of trust, reliability, and a true sense of the human experience. As the world becomes more digital and AI becomes more accessible and utilized, the importance of seeing real people and hearing real stories through real voices has never been greater. Outside of being physically present with others, there’s no better vehicle to tell these stories and foster those emotions than through photography and video.

I think all trends are cyclical, and what’s trending is typically seen as “different” during that moment. In the product and food photography space over the past few years, we saw trends going from soft kitchen-like setups to bold pops of color and hard light to retro patterns and grainy edits. I anticipate more use of vibrant colors and eccentric props in 2024, with editing styles that intentionally make images feel vintage.

© Julee Ho

If you could pick a photography mentor in 2024, who would you pick? Why?

I love learning from many folks as opposed to one in particular. For me, it’s all about the creative ideation and story behind an image or video. I’ve gotten inspiration from food bloggers, large agencies, and everything in between.

Two brands that come to mind when I think of highly creative food photography are Halo Top and Omsom. Halo Top has been a pioneer in over-the-top setups combined with beautiful artwork and graphic design for some time. Omsom is bold and unapologetically unconventional. They make their own rules regarding creative direction, and I greatly respect their work.

The unavoidable question: How do you see the use of artificial intelligence or machine learning impacting photography in 2024?

It really depends on how AI advances in 2024, the usability of those advancements, and people’s acceptance of the technology. For example, when ChatGPT was released, it changed how we could create written content overnight. And that was because it was easy to use, free to access, and it worked. However, it’s still very underutilized because many people still don’t understand it or reject the idea of it altogether.

I’ve tested some of the AI imagery platforms, such as Dall-E and Canva, and it’s not quite there yet from a food photography perspective. Barring drastic advancements in the tech, it will likely be leveraged more for ideation in 2024.

I don’t read many photography-related books, but I consume a lot of business-related content. I’ve found Chris Do’s content on YouTube to be particularly helpful as he speaks a lot about business in the creative space; I appreciate the business tactics shared by Alex Hormozi, and I’m currently in a Mastermind that’s helping me more with visual storytelling and working only with clients whose values align with mine.

Some of my favorite business books of all time are McDonald’s: Behind the Arches by John F. Love, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Originals by Adam Grant, and Different by Youngme Moon. They inspire me to work hard, serve others, and not be afraid to go against the grain.

© Julee Ho

What is your go-to method for overcoming creative block and finding inspiration in 2024?

I’ve done a lot of work this year to reset my expectations on motivation. I used to think motivation came and went, and I just had to roll with the punches. And I was envious of people who seemed to be motivated all the time. But I learned that no one is always motivated, but the difference between the greats and everyone else is that they do the hard work, even when they don’t feel like it.

So, setting the expectation for myself that I will have ups and downs in mood and motivation, and that’s completely okay and normal, will help me move forward. Because no matter how inspired I feel (or not), I know I will put my best effort into my work.

If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner in photography, what would it be?

Always be learning, invest in training, and practice every single day.

Learning constantly and consistently is a lifelong endeavor. And it’s absolutely crucial for freelancers and business owners. The reason is that there are seasons in everyone’s career and entrepreneurial journey where only certain advice will be beneficial. For example, when I started in food photography, I didn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing who I work with or even getting paid for my work.

So, while I agree with the idea that photographers should be respected and properly compensated for their talents, that doesn’t really apply to someone who is just starting their portfolio.

I don’t use any highly advanced or revolutionary tools, but I think creating systems has helped me with my creative process and ensuring my clients get what they need. For example, during the first six months of my business, I kept track of the common questions I would ask clients at the start of a project and turned that into a kickoff questionnaire I’ve sent to every client since. It removes the constant back and forth via email and scheduling multiple calls. So it’s a simple concept, but it saved me more time than anything else.

© Julee Ho

What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness as a photographer in 2024?

My biggest strength is my creativity and fostering relationships with clients. I’ve never cared much about my equipment because I knew those technologies would evolve and make my ability to operate them obsolete. So, my focus is more on ideation and storytelling. I can connect with my clients and immerse myself in their story, their “why”, and their vision for their brand. From that, I can craft visuals that authentically connect with their audience.

My biggest weakness is delegation. I feel so passionately about my work that I often feel compelled to oversee every detail. I’m working on being a better leader and entrusting other very talented people with this important work.

What is the biggest challenge in your photography genre in 2024? What are the solutions?

The biggest challenge is probably the commoditization of product and food photography. There are larger companies with lots of VC funding using models focusing on volume and transactions. They typically pay their photographers very poorly and offer services at next-to-nothing rates with the goal of achieving economies of scale.

As a business owner, I have nothing against these companies, and fortunately, my company delivers a level of quality that allows us not to have to compete with them directly. However, it’s a reminder for many in our space that our value does not come from being the cheapest on the market. Our value is our creativity.

What is the most important factor to consider when choosing a photography niche or specialization in 2024?

Select a niche that is:

  • In a growing market.
  • In an area that you find interesting / care about.
  • In a vertical that you already have expertise in or that you are willing to invest time, energy, and resources into learning.

Always be learning, invest in training, and practice every single day.

Julee Ho

Is there anything else you would like to add or any final thoughts you would like to share about your artistic journey, inspirations, or the impact you hope to make through your photography?

Julee Ho Media has always focused on food and beverage photography with a passion for serving the founders and teams who run these companies. Through this service commitment, we will continue producing the most exceptional food product photography and videos.

This year and into the future, our focus is to connect more with the individuals behind these brands, to tell their stories and share their values for the company. We believe this type of emotional storytelling is the future and will serve as true differentiators for the folks who have the courage to get in front of a camera and share their journeys. We are so excited to serve more incredible companies through these immersive brand story videos.

  • Which photography conference, workshop, event, exhibition, etc., would you recommend to photographers in 2024?
    — Join a mastermind.
  • Which social media platform do you use the most as a photographer?
    — Instagram.
  • Will you use or experiment with NFT in 2024?
    — No
  • Do you think the always-improving cameras on smartphones will result in less work for professional photographers in 2024?
    — Yes
  • What is your motto for 2024?
    — “Shoot every day.”
  • Name one unconventional source of inspiration that photographers should explore for fresh ideas in 2024.
    — Business books, podcasts, and YouTube videos.
  • Which online platform or marketplace is currently the best for photographers to sell their work and reach a wider audience?
    — Organic and personalized outreach to their dream clients on a daily basis.

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