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Food Photography

Lesson 17 of 32

Student Shoot: Pastry Photography


Food Photography

Lesson 17 of 32

Student Shoot: Pastry Photography


Lesson Info

Student Shoot: Pastry Photography

The next group is gonna be working the way I prefer to work, handheld. So, (chuckles) we have Paula and Kate, and the pressure's on, girls, because you're playing with my pet project. So we're gonna get, you're gonna use a plate? Uh, oh, the gauntlet has been thrown down. (laughing) We really liked this particular cake here. Okay. And don't be too crushed when we go for the green suitcase. (laughing) Oh, I knew somebody would grab the green suitcase. I think coveting that. You could probably throw the green suitcase right on top of that. We were gonna try that and use a step stool to get up on it. Let's get this out of the way. Because we were thinking this looks almost like, it's quite moody, and there's lots of texture, and it's sort of almost gothic. Beautiful. And rustic. I wanted blueberries to maybe-- Or some powdered sugar Kind of sprinkle around, (laughing) but we didn't have any. Right, and see this is the thing that happens when you're in these c...

ontrolled environments is that you can start thinking of all these different things that you could add to this. Oh, if I had some powdered sugar. Now, the fact that you're thinking that way, that's the triumph here, is that obviously you have started to envision this way ahead of time. It's way ahead of where you want it to be. But you have to use what's here. So, but, if you're and I don't mind if you feel like you want to manipulate that in any way. Like rip it up. Well not even that. Maybe you find that you want a little more glisten or anything else. I really don't think that that's wrong in this situation. So I'm gonna let you go. (mumbling) I mean I think the key here is getting the light on the blueberries so it's not dead on top. Can you get the camera? (mumbles) Let's get this out of the way. Do you shoot with Canon? I do, yeah. You start first. Do you want to go from the side? Yeah. I'm just gonna try it, see what happens here. So how's their getting going? Is there anything coming in? Questions about what they've got going on so far? Yeah, and yes, we do. Andrew, could you explain I'll do the shout out on the name later, but a little bit about how the black takes away the light? How does the black card act as a sponge and takes away the light? Could you explain that a little bit more? Sure. I mean, you're essentially, wow, that's really nice! (people laughing) (whistling) Boy, I'm so happy you're the person that's been to most of my workshops. (laughing) Well, the black card, essentially, as light is coming through, it's creating a shadow by absorbing the light that's coming across your subject. But also the card itself is creating shadow. You know, it's dark, it's absorbing the light. I'll relate it to something in the real world. On a hot day, it's 95 degrees in New York City, and you're walking around in a blast furnace. Your weather man is gonna tell you to wear white clothing, light, white clothing. Because the light's gonna come and bounce off. It's not gonna absorb into your body. If you wear black on a hot day, all of that light gets sucked into you and you're gonna feel it much more. So the same thing goes true in photography. If you have white, it's gonna hit it, it's gonna bounce off. If you don't, it's gonna hit it and get sucked right in, and then it creates shadow. That's, I guess, the real world example there. Fantastic. So you guys, it's interesting that you guys went, you already had your styling mapped out, and being that you're working handheld you immediately went for the test shot. Where everyone else so far, has done everything ahead of time and then decided that they were gonna shoot right at the end. So your point, you're kind of working like kind of visually-- Right. Where you look and adjust, look and adjust. And I just went for a I changed the depth of field, just to get a little bit more shallow to see what that would look like. Yeah, and I think the choice of objects that you picked to put in this. And I think that you using the plate that they used, they used it differently that you did. Yeah. So, it actually looks different. And that's one of those examples of a personal prop where you can have something that looks different in different frames. But I mean, obviously, you picked a winner as far as, the hero because it's something that it's kind of hard to take a bad picture of. But also-- Geeze, thanks, (laughing) just kidding. No, but the idea is that your choice of shutter speeds, and aperture, and the prop is the thing that pulls the whole thing together, utilizing all the things we've gone over so far. Are you both Canon shooters as well? I shoot Nikon. You shoot Nikon. But I've had some experience with the 5Ds. Right. [Female Questioner] I also love how sometimes less is more. Sure. Just the plate and the-- Well, the surface is. You know I was in love with the surface yesterday. Can I steal this? Yes. No, no, no, no, no. I've already got dibs on it. I've already got dibs on it. I have a tin-snips in my bag, and I'm gonna cut the top of that and take it home in my luggage. (laughing) Well, there's four sides. Alright, so here's the thing. Okay, I'm gonna challenge you now because you've obviously found images that you like, right? So, now change the style on it. Do something different with it, either with the camera or with the actual styling, because you've got plenty of time now. So you've got your safe shot, right? You've got the shot that you love. And now, from this point on, you have the opportunity to kind of do something radically different or maybe even subtly different, so-- I'm gonna try a different surface. Okay, so you've already made use of this and want to move on to something else. And see how the image changes for you. Do we have a question? [Female Questioner] We have some questions with regards to plating. Okay. So, Craig M. asked if you could give any tips on how to keep oval plates looking oval. They can easily photograph much rounder than they really are. Yeah. And, Mia had said also when shooting a round plate is it okay to have some of the plate cut off or usually include the entire round plate? Okay, that's a great question. I'm gonna go for the round plate first because then I have a different answer for the other one. I think it's always okay to crop into plates, like the way they did in this shot that's on the screen at this moment. They cut off some of it. What I wouldn't do is cut off both sides of a plate. So the edge of the plate should always be showing, in my personal view. One edge? One edge. Okay. Because it gives you a sense of the perspective of where you're going to, you know, what's on it. If it's just kind of cropped through the middle, it's kind of hard to tell, and especially if you have a nice prop. You don't want to cut it off at a weird angle. But I would say cutting half a plate or even a quarter of a plate is fine, as long as you can still see the edge of it. But the other thing. I discovered something interesting. Ooh, nice macro, that looks good. (laughing) Distracted always by food photography, always. The other thing that you mentioned about an oval plate is interesting, because shooting from a horizontal perspective, that plate is usually kind of awkward to shoot, and I understand what you're saying. Sometimes if you shoot it from one angle, it looks round and if you shoot it from another angle it looks weird. What I've found is that putting it in a horizontal frame from corner to corner meaning orient the plate so that it sits corner to corner in your horizontal frame, I've gotten my best results with oval plates and long rectangular plates by doing that. By creating this kind of stripe through the middle, rather than try to square it up like this, let the plate go diagonal through the horizontal frame, and that always helps me. Good advice. So where are we now? How is that not in focus? (laughing) Because the lens was on manual focus, but I don't like, it's too dark at the front there. So do you want a bounce? Yeah, a bounce. So we have white and silver, depending on how much bounce you want. I like that plate, the little cuts and-- Yeah, there's a lot of texture-- And we're back to those imperfections again, and it gives you that idea that it's been used, and it's been loved. We should have made Paula shoot something other than desert. (laughing) Knowing how desert-y we are. You guys have five minutes, so you've still got some time to play around. You're making really beautiful pictures and you've kind of really stripped it down to bare bones there. Oh, okay, we're going for one more setup. Awesome. Three setups in 15 minutes. Jim? Hey, question for you please. So, you talked a little bit about plates and this is one of my struggles, could you talk a little bit about utensils? Yeah. On the plate, off the plate, please. You know, I agree with you that utensils are the bugaboo of food photography. I think, not just, yeah (chuckles) the idea that they can be really distracting if they're not the right thing. Now I've talked about this earlier with the ones that we have here. A little too shiny, because we didn't really have the opportunity to just go out antique shopping this week. You know? But the idea is that if they're really kind of shiny or they're placed in a wrong position or they look really contrived, it's hard to find that natural balance. So I think that it's about trial and error on any given particular plate where you're finding that the utensil doesn't want to sit properly. I don't really love when people turn utensils over. There's very rare situations where I feel like when you turn a utensil over like a fork facing down or a spoon facing down that seems to look normal and natural. Because it never really, when do you ever see that? So I think remaining grounded in reality really helps. Thank you. Yep. Oh, look at this. So why did you choose the blue? I think that yellow picks out that yellow, so I wanted to do something in between. Okay. And it kind of goes with the blueberries a little bit. Yeah, perfect. We're dressing for success here. And how do you both feel about shooting handheld as opposed to shooting on tripod? Is this a normal position for you? Yeah. You like it better. I like to do it. Yeah. But I have trouble getting it, in particular, this is really heavy. Right, that camera is with With the grip on it too. With the particular lens. Yep, for sure. That all ends up weighing a lot. Question. Sure. Interesting question from Kevin Wright Studios from Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the pastry, he says they have the safe shot. At what point would you start deconstructing or taking apart the star of the shot? That's a great question, because I'm still, to this day, Ten years into this, I still get nervous doing that. Because I know there's no going back. Especially when you've picked a hero and you're ready to go with it. So the idea that when I would start to cut that up or break it apart, until I'm absolutely certain that I have what I want from a whole picture. But that really comes at the end. And you know, often that's the shot that resonates with people, the one that kind of has some wear on it, some life. So that is an awesome question because it is definitely something that still makes my heart rate go up a little bit when I'm working because I'm like, "Am I ready to break it apart?" "Am I ready to cut into it?" The cake, the pie, the brownies, whatever it might be, so that's an awesome question. [Female Questioner] And are you deciding that just by looking at your LCD because you don't normally shoot tethered? Yeah, it is. I mean, unfortunately that is the case, unless I'm kind of, and I'm pretty certain when I'm working that I'm comfortable with what I have. If I'm not completely and utterly certain, then I might go to the computer, Take the card out. Put them in, take a look, yeah, for sure. [Female Questioner] And are you zooming in on your LCD when you're taking the shots? Just for check focus, just to check focus, yeah. I think that what you guys are doing at this point isn't nearly as stunning as the stuff you did earlier. I think that your light has flattened out a bit as you moved over this way and you started getting that light coming in from behind your shoulder and shooting right with the light. Shooting with the light, essentially meaning, Here's our light source coming in from the window, and I'm actually orienting my body in the same position to shoot, which is essentially what you were doing here. What that does is it flattens out your light. When you come around this way, even from here on, that's where you start to get a little bit more depth and dimension. So I think the stuff you did earlier, and I'm glad you kind of worked out different settings because you never know, but the idea is what you picked out, what you had envisioned from the minute you stepped on the set, you executed it perfectly and it looked great. So, that was a great job. Thank you. Thank you. (clapping)

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.