Food Photography

Lesson 7 of 32

Food Styling Tools of the Trade


Food Photography

Lesson 7 of 32

Food Styling Tools of the Trade


Lesson Info

Food Styling Tools of the Trade

Let me just go over some of the other little tools and things that we have here at the table to talk about. One of the things, a little spray bottle. I keep a little spray bottle around because when we're doing anything that's leafy or raw, wet always looks nice. I think it promotes the idea of fresh. Some of the other tools like this rinder, this is a really cool trick. It's got this thing where you wrap it around and get that long, curly queue of a, I can demonstrate it. I don't have to show you, all of these are real. You know they are. (audience laughs) But if you're doing a drink or something that you wanna top with a really cool, little garnish, looking for something nice, something like this, and you could do a little twist with it and sit there with it wrapped around your finger for a minute or two, so it holds the shape, and you drop it onto whatever you're doing, or you drop it in your drink, you have a nice, little garnish. All these little tools that you find at the store a...

nd you're not sure what they are, obviously, tweezer is always a great, not for that, of course, but it looks really sinister (audience laughs) and I know it's for injecting the turkey or something, but the idea of being able to place liquid where you want to, this isn't the only tool you can do that with, but being able to place liquid where you want to in a shot where you want a particular glisten or whatever. And also, using olive oil and a pastry brush and having that on set when you're doing, like, meat and anything that has a shine on it, you wanna just give it a little brush. Anything that has that, the opportunity for shimmer, or if it's gonna dry out, a little bit of olive oil. Again, it's pretty editorially honest. It's not lacquer or hair spray or any of the crazy things that people use to put on food. So, that's really always a nice thing. And then, you talk about the way things are cut. For example, like this bread. If you're gonna just, if you just go like this, like you're at home, and you're gonna cut a piece of bread. Okay, great. That's nice. But if you're thinking in terms of maybe something different, then you do something just on the bias. Anything, anytime you have the opportunity to cut something on the bias, now you have a little bit more shape, maybe you get the bread that has like little holes in it like that, where it kind of have light go through. Now, the difference between that and that, you can imagine is really, it seems pretty simple. It's not really brain surgery, but it definitely gives you the opportunity to make a big mess, but also all the things that what I would prefer to do with this is just break it by hand because this is the way I would eat it. If I'm at the table, in the way I grew up, this is more appropriate. And now, that looks really organic and it's kind of more appetizing, and it kinda tells a little bit more of a story rather than, "All right everyone, get the knife "and cut the bread into circles." So, the simple, little things that you do with food styling, zesting a lemon, cutting the bread a certain way. Even the cheese, I wouldn't just, if we're gonna grate it, that's one thing, but if we're not gonna grate it, again, get your hands in there and snap a piece off. Break it, see the texture that's there. These are those kind of small, little elements that maybe you're not thinking of because you got so much to think about on set. You think about, "Okay, my camera settings. "Okay, is the food ready?" You need to slow down like I'm gonna do right now and take a deep breath, and think, "Okay, that's already done. "Camera setup, props are picked. "What can I do to make this picture look better?" And all of those little simple, little things that you think about. The grain of your salt, right? You can use Morton salt when you're cooking, but when you're gonna garnish something, having something with a little bit of texture on it, or even better, if you have the opportunity, something that's really kind of cool and get it in there, make it messy, make it pretty. These are the things that when we're eating, it doesn't have to be sloppy, but it could be messy. It could look like you're eating. And I think there's a certain beauty to that as long as you're mindful of the fact of keeping your set clean, or not. (audience laughs) Let me see if you have any more questions because I wanna get to our demo because I know I think when we get to the memo, there's gonna be some questions there and then see if there's anything else coming in from the internet before I go on. A question came up from Yamyam Tam who asked, "Sometimes at restaurants, "the dessert plate is decorated "with a syrup design around the edge of the plate. "Do you ever go to such artistic heights? "And I'm just wondering "as far as plating food in restaurants, "how similar that is to food photography "or do you use the same tips or is it completely different?" I think when you get to that extreme when you start talking about decorating plates with the-- [Female Moderator] Oil or syrup. Yeah, or when you're making, what do you call 'em again? Quenelles? Yeah. To show ice cream that way, that's a very specific type of plating and if you look at food magazines, you really don't see food plated that way. I think it's more, the trend is definitely more toward keeping it more organic and looking like somebody made it maybe at home or maybe at a less formal restaurant, but I think that formal plating is not something I particularly ascribe to and I don't know that it's something that most food photographers are doing. Cool, and along those same line, Mango Tango wanted to ask, "How do you turn it off? "As an aspiring food photographer, "I wanna take photos of everything I eat everyday. "How do you keep your inspiration, "shoot the stuff that matters, "and know when to put the camera down?" (Andrew laughs) That's a great question. I think it's about editing. I don't think you should ever stop shooting. I think you should shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. I think it's about knowing how to edit yourself after the fact. You can shoot until the cows come home. The idea is don't publish everything. That's the idea. I mean, it's like, okay, I saw your Fettuccine Alfredo. One shot, not 90. (audience laughs) Every angle, every dip, every spoonful. I get the instinct. The instinct is real. I mean, I love it. I wanna share every aspect of it. But you have to know how to edit yourself and I think that's, don't turn it off, just don't show everybody everything you do. And you guys, you know who you are out there. You know who you are who are doing that. (laughs) Well, that applies to all photography styles. Yeah. Not just food photography. Oh, for sure, yeah. Absolutely. Well, I think the social media etiquette too is something that we all have to kind of become attuned to, is that if somebody's following your feed, that that's flattering. I like it when people follow me. We're all checking our followers all the time on the phone, right? (laughs) But the idea is that be sensitive to the fact that they're looking at everything you put out there and if you're putting out 900 images of the same thing, eventually they're gonna be, like, "I can't follow this. "This is just jamming up my feed." So, be selective, but also you want people to see you at your best. You wanna be, hand-select the things, especially if you, look, if you don't wanna be a food photographer, put whatever you want out there, it doesn't matter. But if you do wanna be a food photographer, if you want people to see you as somebody who's serious about what you're doing, publish things that you're proud of, not just everything, 'cause that's, if you don't understand that you're being looked at that way or if you wanna hold yourself out that way, you don't wanna have bad pictures out there in the ether, you really don't.

Class Description


  • Understand the business aspects of food photography, including food styling, pricing, negotiation, marketing, and copyrights
  • Shoot on a budget with a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone
  • Prepare for your shoot and organize your materials
  • Learn food styling for various types of food, from soup to pastry
  • Write about food and create a blog


The food on your plate looks absolutely scrumptious. But somehow, when you take a picture of it, the result is less than appetizing. Great food photography isn’t just about taking a shot of a delicious dish, it’s about carefully selecting and styling your food, appropriately using natural light or studio light, and editing your images to leave viewers hungry.

World-renowned commercial photographer, food stylist, and New York Times columnist Andrew Scrivani will teach you the essentials of preparing your food before the shoot, using the right camera and lighting gear, and performing touch-ups in post-production. He’ll also give you expert advice regarding the business of food photography, so you can turn your hobby into your dream job. Special guest Shauna Ahern of the Gluten Free Girl blog and book fame will talk about food blogging, recipe writing, and growing your online audience.

This class will help you:

  • Select, prepare, and style your food so it looks professional and enticing.
  • Find and use the best gear for a food photo shoot.
  • Choose the right camera settings.
  • Create an optimal workflow and post-production process.
  • Deal with low indoor light by using inexpensive lighting equipment.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for food photography tips to expand your skillset or a novice using nothing more than a smartphone, this mouth-watering workshop will provide you with the strategies, tips, and techniques needed to captivate your viewers and reach your food photography goals.


  • Anyone who wants to become a professional food photographer or a photographer who wants to add additional revenue to their business by venturing into food photography.
  • Those who love taking pictures of food, but aren’t sure how to turn a hobby into a career or business.
  • Those who want to know how to choose the right food and style it appropriately for great food photography.
  • Bloggers who write about food but need high-quality images to go with their written content.
  • People who like to photograph food for their own pleasure, but want to take better, more professional-looking images.


  1. Introduction to Food Photography Class

    Andrew Scrivani introduces his food photography class and outlines the topics he’ll be addressing.

  2. What Is Food Porn?

    Andrew explains how to evoke these sensations and make your pictures so real you can almost taste them.

  3. Food Photography Lighting

    Learn the secrets to making your food pop with light.

  4. Food Photography Props

    Using the right food photography props and positioning will go a long way toward making your food look its best.

  5. Food Styling Props

    Andrew demonstrates food styling props so you can optimize your food shots.

  6. Food Styling Tips

    Get food styling tips and tricks so you can achieve a truly gorgeous photo.

  7. Food Styling Tools of the Trade

    Andrew shows you the food styling tools and techniques he uses.

  8. Camera for Food Photography

    Choosing the right camera for food photography and creating a complete kit with all the right gear is an essential step to becoming a successful food photographer.

  9. Food Styling Tutorial: Spaghetti and Pudding

    Watch an intensive food styling tutorial on how to style and prep pasta and pudding.

  10. Food Styling Q&A

    Andrew takes questions on food styling.

  11. Gear Q&A

    Andrew takes questions on food photography gear.

  12. Food Photography Camera Settings: Do The Math

    Get the basics on food photography camera settings, including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance.

  13. Understanding Light Meters and Settings

    Learn more about understanding light meters and camera settings.

  14. Shooting Demo: Dessert Photography

    Watch a detailed demonstration of a dessert photography shoot.

  15. Student Shoot: Bread Photography

    Students learn about bread photography and get the chance to do an overhead shot of bread and cheese.

  16. Student Shoot: Soup Photography

    Students learn about soup photography and how to do a soup shot using a tripod.

  17. Student Shoot: Pastry Photography

    Students learn about pastry photography and try a handheld shot of pastry.

  18. Student Shoot: Sandwich and Soup Handheld

    Students attempt a handheld shot of a sandwich and soup.

  19. Workflow Prep to Post

    Andrew explains how to shop, cook, and organize everything you need to get a successful outcome.

  20. Post Demo

    Learn how to organize, fix, and perfect your shots in the post-processing stage using Adobe Lightroom.

  21. Food Blogging Tips with Shauna Ahern

    Get a new perspective on food photography from food blogger Shauna Ahern.

  22. Q&A With Shauna Ahern

    Shauna Ahern and Andrew answer questions from the audience.

  23. The Top 10 Questions for Every Food Photographer

    Get answers to the top 10 questions most commonly asked about food photography.

  24. Food Photography Business Q&A

    Andrew answers questions from the audience about the food photography business.

  25. Photo Copyright

    Learn the dos and don’ts of the photo copyright.

  26. Advertising Your Photography Business

    Andrew offers expert advice about breaking into and advertising your photography business, including how to use the internet to get clients.

  27. The Artist vs. the Business Person

    Andrew discusses how to separate the emotional aspects of your art from the financial aspects and how to value your work so you get what you deserve.

  28. Tips and Tricks for a Budget Shoot

    Learn how to conduct a great food shoot on a budget.

  29. Tips for Food Photography with Phone

    Get advice on food photography with phone.

  30. Student Critique

    Andrew critiques students’ photography and gives them advice on how to improve.

  31. Facebook Contest Winner Critique

    Andrew critiques photos from the winners of the Facebook food photography contest.

  32. Q&A and Parting Wisdom

    Andrew offers a final course wrap-up and provides some parting advice to the students.


Brendan McGuigan

This was one of the best workshops I've ever taken in my life – in person or digital. Andrew is a fantastic teacher – if I hadn't known his first career was as a professor, I would have guessed it based on the quality of teaching. He had a casual attitude, sense of fun, and easy-going manner of speech that made him immediately accessible, and a joy to watch for the entire sixteen hours (which I completed in just under three days). For me, the main value of the workshop was to be found in the first day. Andrew went through his artistic process, dropped tips along the way, and gave a real sense of how his brain works when thinking about a scene – everything from creating the food, to styling, to composing the shot. I happen to love his use of light, and getting an insight into how he crafts his backlighting and bounce was very useful. Day two had some nuggets of wisdom – and some great hands-on – but much of the tool tutorials and post-production workflow aspects will be less useful to those who are already professional photographers looking to branch out into a new discipline. Still, one of the standouts to me was seeing just how little he does in technical post – a good reminder that incredible shots can be captured 90% in camera. The segment with a food blogger, although not relevant to me, was captivating and insightful, and the rapport between Andrew and Shauna James Ahern was delightful. Day three was great for anyone needing a refresher on the business aspects, and some of specifics of the food photography business were good to hear in detail. For those already selling their work, who are familiar with licensing agreements, copyright, stock, etc., this may be redundant, but it's always good to be reminded of these things by an expert at the top of their game. Andrew's conclusion nearly had me in tears. He is obviously an incredibly passionate, giving, and humble artist, who not only feels blessed in his own life, but feels compelled to pass on some of his good fortune. That's a wonderful thing to see, and honestly gave me a nice boost of motivation to up my personal game. Throughout the workshop I found Andrew's lesson plan spot on. His in-studio students asked great questions, and the questions selected from the online audience filled in a lot of the blanks. While I may have liked to have seen a bit more hands-on from Andrew – just to get more of a feel for his process – all in all I felt like this covered everything I was hoping to gain from it. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to get into food photography – whether you're a complete novice or a seasoned professional photographer who wants to explore food. Whether it's for advertising, editorial, stock, or blogging, he really covers it all, exploring both broad concepts and very specific practical applications. I can't rave enough about this. If you're at all on the fence, buy it. You'll be glad you did.

a Creativelive Student

Day one was a good investment for me. After that... not so much. Not sure this is really about photography. For sure, Andrew is an artist, he's great at communicating the art of the food, the art of proping, but explanations about how to make images is very simplistic. For instance he makes a pretty big blunder explaining the "math" of photography. He says his favorite setting is f4/125th, at iso 100. His grasp of lighting beyond window light and reflectors left me a little flat. He does a good job of explaining his style -- which in spite of it all -- I like. And to be fair, Andrew is an editorial food photographer. If you're interested in opening a food photography studio and doing product work -- this may not be the class for you. I think this is a good class for cooks and bloggers who want to make images of their food. If you're a beginning food shooter, you will find the information about styling and proping useful. Having watched some of Pennhy de Los Santos and Andrew, the editorial people seem to over simplify lighting and camera and lens work. At the same time, there seems to be a theme emerging in photography and that is that it's really almost better to be highly versed in another discipline and come to photography through the back door... (e.g. a rock climber who picks up a camera, a conservationist who decides to document the changing landscape and wildlife, a cook who just so happens to like taking images). Photography, for its own sake, seems to be a thing of the past. At the end of the day the class is $129 -- so... not like you have to take out student loans to get something out of it. This guy is likable, and sincere, and makes a huge effort o be helpful to anyone interested in shooting food -- and it's hard to ignore his personal success.

Kalissa Tozzi

This course shares great knowledge and information on food photography for people interested in doing this as a profession or as a hobby. I always had a curiosity to learn more about the topic because I love cooking and I love photography, but I had no idea about what it entailed. I think Andrew does a great job in covering the details of what food photography is all about for people who are new to it. He covers all the basics, and gives a very good foundation for students to take the next step (either to build a business or just have fun). Andrew comes across very humble, friendly and motivating which makes watching the videos and learning much more enjoyable and less intimidating.