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Food Photography

Lesson 32 of 32

Q&A and Parting Wisdom


Food Photography

Lesson 32 of 32

Q&A and Parting Wisdom


Lesson Info

Q&A and Parting Wisdom

OK, so Molly Mom, who's from Bellingham, Washington, asked, "What are the rules or ethics about "adding raw ingredients to a cooked dish "to make it look more visually appealing? "Say with a stewed dish, "is it OK to put some of the raw ingredients on top "to make it look fresher? "And I don't mean garnishes." I think that could pose a problem if the raw ingredients that you're adding to your dish look dramatically different from what's already in the dish. I think maybe adding slightly cooked or undercooked, which we've talked about on a couple of occasions, is OK. I also believe that, the way we constructed the spaghetti, the process that we did, is also appropriate when you're doing cooked foods, like if you want to display something in the pot. Is add something that you think is gonna be perishable, or not perishable, but something that's gonna wilt, add it at the very last minute instead of cooking it according to recipe. Some of those kind of decisions need to be made on the fl...

y, and you'll learn as you practice and say, Alright, the next time that I make that dish I'm gonna add the tomatoes at the very last minute, let them kind of heat through, not totally cook and break down, and then I'm gonna serve it or show it, because that would give me the opportunity to show a little bit more vibrancy. So, it's about constructing, construction. I wouldn't add it later, but I might add it at the very end and undercook it. Cool. Pam Huckings, from Newton, New Jersey, asks, "Can you talk about your feelings on food art photography "compared to regular food photography? "Is there a defined difference "and where do you walk the line?" Well, should we talk to Steve, because he's got a burgeoning career in it? I do think that fine art photography that includes food is not food photography. I think it's fine art photography. I think that whether or not you have an object that's food or an object that's not food, photographing in that particular way is really more about high art still life than it is about traditional food photography. Because I don't necessarily think the skillset translates, because I think that people who do that type of work, even if they are skilled at food photography, I still think that's a separate skill, because I don't think every food photographer can do that stuff, and I don't know that every fine arts photographer can do food photography. So another good question from Snappy Gourmet, "How closely do you follow recipes? "Do you substitute a lot of ingredients, "such as how you mentioned yogurt "was better than whipped cream? "If a recipe calls for whipped cream "do you still use yogurt just for the aesthetic, "just so that it looks better?" Sometimes, yeah. I don't know that I do that many substitutions when I'm trying to remain editorially honest, but I will check with an author and say, "I can't find this ingredient. "Can I substitute this that looks like it?" And then they could add that into the recipe and say, if you don't have this you can add that. I do do that on a regular basis, because I feel like there are times when we will publish a recipe in a food magazine or a newspaper where you can't find that ingredient everywhere. If you don't live in a big city or you don't live someplace where there's certain Asian markets or certain Indian markets or some kind of ethnic food that you can't find, you need to have an adequate substitute so people everywhere can follow along. So sure. Cleveland Pete asks the question, Have you ever run into anything regarding cultural preferences when you've shot a piece of food, potentially, and it might be, you know, like, Is the fish head on, is it off, is it looking at you? Are you using a fork with a Thai dish, potentially. Yeah, instead of a spoon. Right, I got you. Yeah, I think so. I think you need to be culturally sensitive as a food photographer, because I think people are really passionate about their food, and if you're presenting it in a way where it may potentially be viewed as ignorant to that particular type of food or potentially disrespectful, you need to really understand the food that you're working with. So, like spoons. The fact that if you put chopsticks with Thai food, that's a no-no. And not everybody would know that, because not every Thai restaurant adheres to that. The reality is that true Thai food is eaten with a spoon and a fork. So, yeah, I think absolutely you need to remain culturally sensitive. Alright, I have a question from Linda in Minneapolis who asks, Starting out in food photography, should I work with a photo rep? You know, that's a good question. I'm glad that came up. I think that if you have an opportunity to work with a photo rep, that it's a good way to cover a lot of the bases that we've covered in our workshop about business, because you're photo rep should be pretty knowledgeable about all the things that we've talked about, about rates and about all the negotiation things. And it also takes the pressure off you to deal with clients directly. I've talked about the fact that I'm unrepresented at this point. I've been represented in the past, and for me to have a representation at this point, it would have to be a really good fit, and I think that goes pretty much for everybody. You want to have a good fit with your representation, because you want that they're getting something out of it, and they're gonna work hard for you. And when they are knowledgeable and they have a good conduit to the type of photography that you want to do, that can be a really profitable arrangement for both of you. And I think that's the only way it works long term, is if both parties are feeling like they're getting something out of the relationship, but I do think it's very valuable if you find the right one. But it's like finding love, you know, it's hard. (laughing) Nice. OK, a bit of a technical question here. MPG would like to know, "Do you ever register your images "with the US Copyright Office?" No, I have never done that. OK, thank you. Alright, we have a question in the studio audience. You talked about, you use a stock agency. Everyone else I've ever talked to says that they never make any money out of stock now, but you still think it's-- Well, you've got to remember, if you think about all the kind of prolific food photographers in the country, I'm probably one of the most prolific because of the nature of the way I shoot for the paper. We're publishing eight to new images a week, year round. So as far as volume is concerned, that's what stock is about. Stock is about volume, so the more images you have out there, the more opportunity you have for resale. So if you're only working, you don't have that kind of an arrangement where you're shooting that kind of volume, it's hard to build up, because not everything that you shoot your stock agency wants. So even if you're able to put 25% of what you're shooting into stock, that's still a lot. So I would say, it's a hard business. Stock is a very hard business. And I can't say that, it's not even close to the most profitable part of my business but a drip and a drab and a drip and a drab and a drip and a drab, and at the end of the year it means something. So, you know, it's a volume business for sure. Any other questions? Absolutely. We'll take a few more questions. Yeah, we're good, we can keep going. Alright, cool. Question from Rodney Bedsel who is from New Rochelle, New York. Hi, Rodney. "I know several cookbook authors, "and I've approached them about shooting for their books. "The response I've gotten is that the publisher "has more control than the authors do "as to which photographer they use. "Does it help to try to network with publishers "and get to know the editors at the publishing houses?" Yeah, I think that's absolutely the right approach because it is true that even though it's the money of the author that's paying you for the images, they definitely have the final say, the publisher. And the publisher has particular photographers that they're really comfortable with, because their margin error, margin for error is very slight. And they don't necessarily like to take chances on new photographers when they already have a known entity in-house, meaning a client that has been working with their authors consistently. So the best way to do that is to get to know the publishing executives and the publishing editors rather than try to go through the author. Because unless the author has a lot of clout, that's not gonna fly. And a question here is, "What do you do when you don't like the appearance "of food that someone else has cooked "on the day of the shoot?" And I know that as a chef sometimes I cook with ingredients that I don't particularly enjoy but I know that other people will like those ingredients. How do you deal that kind of situation? Are you talking about how it looks or how it's gonna taste? How it looks. Send it back. OK. Simple. Again, your name is the one that's going on it. Be gentle, but be clear. What are some things that you've come across? Can you name anything off the top of your head, a piece of chicken that's not cooked? Well yeah, sure. What kind of things would you ask for? On the last cookbook I shot we were working with some newer stylists. There was a battery of stylists we were working with and a couple of the more newbies and they were fine, they were good, but they needed a lot of guidance, and there were certain things that came out and we worked on this one particular shrimp dish that needed a lot more care and it kept getting sent back to the kitchen and I made sure I went back to the kitchen with it, and said look: "This isn't a criticism of what you did. "You followed the recipe, "but we really need to do something different here "because it's not gonna look good on camera." And I think people really appreciated the fact that I walked it back to the kitchen and talked to them about it instead of saying, get this off my table! I cannot work under these conditions. And you're not worried about them spitting on it or anything like that? Well, I don't have to eat it. (laughing) Cool. Alright, a question with regards to success and life-work balance. So, can we talk about the big picture as far as what boundaries do you have for hours, or do you recommend that people need to be working 80 hours a week in order to be a success? How do you find that life-work balance? Do you work on the weekends? Yeah, I do. I do, but I feel like that you've got to know when you need a break. And I have that tendency to kind of push until I need a break and then I take it. The issue with this is that if you love what you do, it's kind of hard to turn it off sometimes, and I think that's the instinct that you have to fight against, is that you just want to keep working. You want to get through more of it. You want to create more. And I think you have to force yourself to remember that, you know, you have friends, you have family, you have colleagues. You want to have a social life. You want to be able to have a hobby, and I think it's important that when you have a way of making a living that for some people is a hobby, but it's your business like what you asked me earlier, when you said, "Do you take pictures on vacation?" That's when I turn it off. I don't carry my camera to restaurants. I don't do those things, because that's what I do for a living. So it's important to know when to turn it off and have a hobby outside of what you're doing professionally for a living, you know. And I have hobbies that have nothing to do with photography, so that's important. Absolutely. Well, we could ask you questions for another 48 hours, so I'm not sure if we really-- Well, since you're taking me in your pocket to the gym, you know? Exactly. Andrew, did you have any final comments or things that you'd like to say to the people at home and the people here? Yeah, I do. I think that one of the things that's really important in the whole equation is knowing that if you're here in the audience or if you're at home watching on your computer you have already taken the first step to understand that you are trying to better yourself. You're trying to learn something new. You might be trying to reinvent yourself. You might be trying to reinvent your profession. All of those things are things that I can relate to, and this is why I'm here doing the things that I've done in these workshops and others, in that I know there are people there who want to find something that they love to do. And I found that. I found that, luckily, and it was later than I might have expected, but I found it and I reinvented myself. So I think that the experiences I've had have led me to the desire to share that and hopefully inspire other people to learn. And I think that also the instinct as an educator, the thing that I grew up doing, doesn't leave you. You want to share. And what I want you to do, whether you're here or you're at home, is I want you to gather the confidence that you gained from the knowledge that hopefully you gathered over the last few days and put it into yourself. Be confident that you took steps to better what you're doing and make the art you want to make with confidence, with power. It gives you internal power to know that I'm doing something for myself, and I can better myself through it. So what I want you to do is, I want you to gather it up, put it inside, and I want you to go out there and do it. I want competition. I want you all out there. I want the competition. This is one of the things that people have said. "You're gonna share all of your secrets, "and you're gonna share all of your things." No. How many pictures have you looked at over this thing? Hundreds, right? They're all different. I can give you my camera. I can give you my lens. I can give you my tripod. I can give you everything you need to take a picture. It's not gonna look like mine. It's not gonna look like yours. And it's not gonna look like yours Go out and make art that you're proud of. And you, quite honestly, if you've already taken these steps, the rest of them are there out in front of you. Learn more. Do the things we've talked about. Research. And then go out there and conquer the world. Go out and take it. If you want it, take it. Don't wait for it to come to you. Take it. That's what I did. Somebody opened the door a crack and I kicked it down. That's what you need to do next. You got out and you get your knowledge, you go out into the world and you figure it out, and that's what I want you to do. And that's why I'm already proud of you, because you came here to do this, and if you came here and spent 18 hours watching me on the internet. You need to be proud of yourself. Be proud of what you did over the last three days. And now I'm gonna go home and go to sleep. (laughing) I have one last thing. And one last slide. Don't forget. Don't forget. Don't forget: Have fun! (laughing) I'm out. Have fun, have fun! This is a shot that a client insisted that I take: "Make sure that you can get that piñata in the picture." I made sure I got the piñata in the picture. Have fun. This is a great way to make a living. It really is. And if you've really decided that this is what you love and that this is what you want to do, you're gonna be really rewarded by it. So, have fun. Oh my gosh, thank you. (applauding)

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.