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Food Photography

Lesson 1 of 32

Introduction to Food Photography Class


Food Photography

Lesson 1 of 32

Introduction to Food Photography Class


Lesson Info

Introduction to Food Photography Class

Well hi, everyone. Some of you I know, everyone here I've met, and uh, out there in the internet. I'm hoping that a lot of my friends and people that I've met over the the years in this are also watching, and lots of new friends as well. So welcome, internet. All of you, on the internet. (audience chuckling) So what I want to do first, is I want to give you an overview of what we're gonna be talking about over the next three days. We have a lot of time together. And there's going to be a lot of topics that we're gonna take, and I think I want to encourage you to ask questions when you feel that you have something on your mind, because when we keep going, we're gonna go right into something else. So if you have something on your mind, I want you to say it. Also, on the internet, if there's things that you feel that you'd like to know, or a little bit more depth, the detail of what I'm talking about, then by all means, please chat with with us and let us know what you're thinking, becaus...

e this is interactive and I like it that way. Okay, so today on day one, there first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go over a basic overview of food photography. We're gonna go through a slideshow, I'm gonna talk about some of the pictures I've made, and what they mean to me, and what the motivation is for making these types of pictures. From there, we're gonna talk about propping, food styling, and then gear. So in the propping section, we're gonna talk about all the things that go into making the ancillary parts of your pictures. Now, propping isn't just plates and dishes and spoons and forks. It's also other food items and other things like the surface that you're shooting on and the linen and napkins and glasses and wine and all the things that we use. And what are the motivations there for why we use them? Then we're gonna talk about food styling, and basically it's the composition within the composition, so when you talk about composition in food photography, you have two. You have your overall composition, which includes everything that you see, but then you also have to compose your plate particularly well to make it look right. So understanding that concept that we're making two different pieces of art and putting them together is gonna be really important to understand how to build, from the ground up, a good food photo. And then later in the afternoon, once we come back back from lunch, we're gonna talk about the gear that we're gonna use, and the gear that you can use whether it's things that you already own, things that you wanna purchase, things that fit into your budget, and things that may fit into your space. Because if you are like me, and you grew up in a space like Manhattan, we had very limited space when I first started in food photography, so I need up living with my work. And many of you are probably doing something very similar at this point, and when you are a food photographer and you decide that you wanna do this, you end up also becoming a collector. A collector of equipment, a collector of props, a collector of food items, and all of a sudden, your entire space becomes a food studio. Which, this is a familiar kind of look for me, even though we're on a set, but honestly, having all these things around me all the time, you know, are not just my work, but it's also the things that inspire me. Because I'm walking around here and I'm looking at things on the shelf, going "Mm, I can't wait to take a picture of that." I wanna use that in a photograph. And that's the motivation, those are the inspirations that you have. When you're involved in food photography, it's that you walk around and you're taking pictures with your eyes all the time. So I'm really excited to be here and I wanna just also, let's go into what else we're gonna, okay? Day two, we're gonna talk about the camera settings, so everything that we're gonna talk about is chronological, in a sense, to how you build a food photograph. From propping to food styling to gear to camera settings and on into your shooting, actual shooting, then your post-production work flow, and then we're gonna talk about business, starting day three, and we're gonna also, we have something really exciting, we're gonna talk about blogging, in particular, with our guest blogger, Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and a chef. She's a personal friend, but also somebody I met working workshops, and she came to me earlier in her career to learn a little bit more, and she's gonna come and sit with me and talk about how food photography has influenced her blog. So I'm excited about that. You should be as well; she's a really great person, and she's a lot of fun and a good instructor as well. So, um, then toward the end of day three, we're gonna talk business in the beginning. We're gonna take a good, long time about business, because when we're discussing the business of food photography, it's not as simple as taking a great picture of food. I'm sure all of you can take a great picture of food. That's only step one. When you're talking about doing this as a business, talking to a client, negotiating price, understanding the industry, understanding the differences between editorial and publishing and advertising and all of the kind of gray areas that exist within those things, are really hard to negotiate. It takes a lot of time and energy to learn those things and understand your place in it. And then, how do you translate the work that you're able to create into a business that's flooded with also very talented people? So I'm hoping that the things that I've learned and I can share with you are gonna help kind of, you can can kind of wrap your mind around it a little bit and say, "Okay, now I can whittle it down "to something that's manageable." Both emotionally and intellectually, where you can really focus on the things that you can do whether it be right now, and set a five year plan, or whatever it might be. But we'll get into that in real fine detail for quite a few hours on day three. Then we're gonna have some fun, and we're gonna do some low-budget, kinda indoor fun stuff with how you can fix your light. You know, you're cooking in your dark kitchen, you're eating in a dark restaurant, you don't really have a lot of daylight, and we can show you how to fix that on a really kind of tight budget and be able to make some cool pictures that way. And then we're gonna finally, you're gonna throw yourself to the gauntlet, and you're gonna let me critique some of your pictures. (audience chuckling) I actually neglected to talk about homework. Well, it's not kind of homework, because you're not going home with it, but you are gonna have an assignment. You're gonna have an assignment at lunchtime of day two, where you're gonna take some of the things that we've learned, because by that point, we're gonna have gone through propping, we're gonna have gone through styling, we're gonna talk about your gear, we're gonna talk about the set, you're gonna watch me shoot, and then you're gonna shoot at lunch, and you're gonna be able to create some images that, those will be the ones that I critique of yours at the end. Alright, so, about me: You know, you've seen my work. And you're here because we've had so much Twitter publicity over the past couple of weeks, that you obviously know what I do. But one of the interesting stories is about how I got started. I reinvented myself in this world. I was a teacher, and I was a coach, and I'm a jock from school, way back. But I happened to make a friendship many years ago with a man who's now my best friend, he's been my best friend for 30 years, who is a photographer. And he started to teach me about photography, and our colleges were across the street form one another. And I was studying one thing, and he was studying photography. I got much more interested in what he was doing than what I was doing. And even though I went and finished my education and I worked as a teacher for many years, I never forgot about photography, and I always practiced as an amateur. And then later, when I had an opportunity, I was also somebody who learned how to cook when I was young. My grandmother had nothing else to do with us except teach us how to cook and play cards, so don't play poker with me. (audience laughing) Grandma was a good card player. (audience chuckling) But she was also a really good cook, and um, she taught me a lot about being in the kitchen. And my grandmother and my great-grandmother were, they grew up in the same house as a lot of, you know, extended families and immigrant extended families did. My great-grandmother was the cook. My grandmother wasn't allowed to cook in her mother's kitchen, so had to learn how to bake. So I ended up learning both skills from different people. So I had this really valuable set of skills, and then when I was 18, I decided, "Oh, I'm gonna eat vegetarian." My mother was like, "Well, you're gonna cook your own food." (audience chuckling) Again, I had to learn another set of skills. So by the time I was an adult and into photography, a lot of people knew this about me. They knew that I could cook, and word got through to a couple of editors and other people that I was hanging around with through my other friend that I could shoot and I could cook. And somebody called me and said, "We have an emergency." "It's Christmas Eve and we need a picture "for a hangover remedy, but there's nobody available. "Nobody's around, nobody can cook it, nobody can shoot it. "Can you do it?" I was like, "Yeah, who's the client?" "The New York Times." (audience chuckling) It was an incredible stroke of luck, but it was an incredible opportunity. And, well, opportunities like that only come around once in a while, especially when it's something you really care about and things you love. And I've said this before, and Paolo will tell you, I'll say it again: When the door's open a crack, you kick it down. You don't peek in. So I went at it, I went right at it, and I made these pictures, and I sent them in, and I followed up, and they did very well. And they continued to call me, and they continued to send me out on smaller assignments. I didn't get another big assignment like that to cook and shoot for quite a while, but they trusted me and they allowed me to go out and take pictures in restaurants, and take pictures at events and other things where I built a reputation, I built a portfolio. And then they started to trust me with the big food shoots, and then from there, we got here. So it's a matter of sometimes just one catalyst event, one small piece, that pulls all the skills that you're collecting now, and have been throughout your life, and put them into something that you really love. And that's my story. That's an unusual one, I know that in this business, and that at beginning of my career, it was one I was almost self-conscious about. Because being with other photographers and stylists and people who have been in the business a long time, and all of a sudden, I'm the new guy who got the big opportunity without much to show for it. I had to prove myself every day, and I feel that way now. I mean, I'm deep into my career. Obviously, people know who I am and what I do, but the reason I think I continue to make good pictures is because I'm motivated by that feeling that you're only as good as the last picture you took. So if you're not quite engaged that way, where you are constantly striving to get better, then you don't want to do this. Because this is highly competitive, and you need to really put all of yourself into it. You can't be afraid. You have to take chances and risks and be really motivated to do it. And obviously, there's a whole lot of eye contact here, and I'm sure that the people who are watching on at home as well. I spent a lot of time in front of classrooms of people, and watching, and I know when people are engaged just by looking at your eyes. And everyone here, obviously, has got a little bit of fire in their belly, ready to go. (audience chuckling)

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.

Ben Adams

Andrew's class is excellent, through-and-through. The mere handful of negative reviews focus on the underwhelming results of his test shots in the class -- they're kind of missing the point. The instructor's test shots aren't about the final product, they're used to tell about the process, and boy does he do that. This course is comprehensive and concise. Scrivani talks about the ins-and-outs of the job itself (how much is styling, how much is buying the food or preparing it yourself, how much is just pure photography) and furthermore gives insight as to the nature of the business and pricing. He is clearly a strong teacher with an ear for student input, and it shows. He explains things in stages so that he doesn't 'lose' a novice student, but doesn't dumb it down so much that he's wasting the time of veteran photographers. Within each lesson (let's say he's describing the function of aperture, something most photogs already know) he's keen to pepper in little details about equipment, styling, or lighting so that there's useful information for a broad scope of the audience. The other courses, taught by Penny De Los Santos, are a joke compared to this one. De Los Santos I'm sure is a nice person, and she produces wonderful work, but her course provides little practical information and she effectively ignores her audience saying only "yeah this isn't good", making some unnamed adjustment, then "yeah okay this works" while the audience just sits there wondering what's even going on. Andrew Scrivani is very different. In one student-photographed shot, he recognizes that a more experienced pupil can easily snap his 'handheld' photo challenge, and so he throws them a curveball -- take an additional shot with a different background or styling -- and communicates clearly to the audience why he's changing the task and what the significance is. For a novice pupil, he assists her with the camera and explains to the audience the importance of getting settings right. All told, I had been unimpressed with CreativeLive's tutorial offerings until I stumbled upon this fantastic instructor. Yes, some of the information is dates (iPhone photography has taken giant leaps forward since 2013) but the practical information (lighting, budget options, business advice) is all salient and relevant. Andrew, if you by chance read these reviews, I'll say once more what was true the moment I started watching -- this course is excellent.