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Food Photography

Lesson 16 of 32

Student Shoot: Soup Photography


Food Photography

Lesson 16 of 32

Student Shoot: Soup Photography


Lesson Info

Student Shoot: Soup Photography

Well Leah and I were whispering to each other, thinking about creating a place setting, as if you were dining. Using the soup here, gotta get kind of a handle on some of the acquirements we can use here. Okay, do we have a ladle? Yeah. Because we're looking at this soup. There's a ladle over there, we can go grab one. Here it comes, thanks. Would you like a big ladle or a little ladle? Big please. Big, here's your ladle. So what do you think, Leah? Um, something table top-y. Oh, I like that. This one? Okay, I think this light one. You want to disconnect this? Because I'm not sure how to do that. What do you think? You think it's a little too rough? Yeah. Or maybe this one. So as we said earlier, Pam and Leah are going to do a, they're going to do a tripod shot. So they're going to set up for, tripod. Right. Correct, right, so they're going to set up a tripod shot. So they're going to choose what they need to do to get that ready. Alright, so this is go...

ing to be our tabletop. So while they're setting up, we have a question from Annie and Eric. So a couple of different people are asking, could you define and talk about what negative space is and how you use it in your work? Ah, good, okay, well negative space is the space that is created around the objects that you're photographing. So it's the things like when we're looking at the bread and cheese shot, it's the empty spaces around things. And for me aesthetically it's uncomfortable when I don't see like balanced negative space in an image. So yesterday when we were talking about that cracker shot, and then we were also talking about that shot with the calamaris and lemon wedges, where it was just kind of objects on black. You can look at an object or a photograph or something like that where you're looking at what's in the foreground, like the objects themselves, or just the spaces in between them. So it's like that kind of trick thing where you look at something from one perspective and then you look at it from another perspective and it looks like something else, that's where negative space really comes into play. And that's what, I think, it's also about visual comfort, and I think a lot of people are more visually comfortable when you can see a balance of positive and negative space. Positive being the things that you're photographing. Negative space being the things behind it. Plus when you're choosing a beautiful surface like they did, you want to be able to see it. You want it to be able to come through. So I think that's where we're at with negative space. Fantastic and can you talk a little bit about which shapes go through your mind when you're doing your styling? Triangles or circulars or squares, or does it depend on what you're shooting? Um, you know, that's interesting because I do think in terms of how things are shaped and creating shapes around. I have a tendency to think more like circles. I like kind of concentric circles, things that lay over one another. And I kind of compose in circles. And I think maybe that's because I mean the shape of our frame is rectangular, but I think within the rectangle, you know, a series of circles. Plus in food so much of the food is circular. The plates are very circular. You have a lot of circles with glasses and other things. And then the other objects that we place in are the complimentary pieces to those. So that's, I think, I would probably say circles first and then everything is kind of a compliment to that. Bowl and spoon kind of thing. So how are you guys doing? Where you at? Good, we're looking at the bowl shapes and wanting something a little more shallow. But we have what we have. And this is too big. Okay, yep. So we're going to see what we get with that. That's not bad though, that's not bad. I know what you mean though, with wanting to get away from a deep bowl. And I don't know if we should maybe fill it more because right now we've got that much of. I think you probably have a little bit more room to put more in there without it starting to look like you have way too much. One of the tricks that I do with certain things when you have, let's say you don't have enough soup to fill up that bowl or let's say you want to go with that other bowl because it's a little longer and wider. What I might do is I might fill that space with something else, like flip another bowl upside down. Create, and then pour the soup over the top of it. So like underneath all this soup is that bowl taking up space. That's brilliant. So there are times when that actually helps. Yeah, it's thinking outside of the box. What can I put inside, yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean just how you can fill the space without really affecting the image. Get a little swoop. Is there any rosemary that's cut? Can we pick from that, yeah. Rosemary and the fresh herbs that are going the set are definitely there. I think those fennel fronds are also probably nice for garnish. Thank you, wow, that's great. You got a couple of nice options there for garnish. And then we were going to do maybe a glass of white wine if it's possible or we could improvise. Oh perfect. There's another glass, those glasses, yeah. I'll take one without the water marks in it for right now. So are you approaching this any differently from based on what we were talking about earlier? What are you thinking about right now? Um, a lot. No pressure at all. No pressure. Well I think we were talking about having the lights coming through here and just having some objects that the lights can be luminous through some of the objects. And then, you know, the soup obviously is going to have some reflection. But we just wanted to have, with the tripod, sort of be this angle. Okay. So maybe at this height. Right. Towards it, and just giving a portion of this, so it's just sort of a suggestion of this is your place setting where you're eating, instead of it being a full frame. Great, that's cool. So we'll see what happens. So maybe a just a bit of the spoon coming in. I'd say that's maybe. Too big? A little too big. That's what I'm thinking. That's a good call. The thing that we notice about this studio and what we're working with here is because, like we talked about earlier, with the frosted light, the frosted glass with the light coming in, this is really balanced, clean white light. It's amazing, yeah. And you do obviously, you know, you can manipulate that any way you want to add more shadow or add more light, but this is actually pretty well balanced in here, and it looks good. So far I think the shots that we've taken here look pretty good. There was a question earlier from Slanger Photog, who asked, does Andrew find the current light a little too even? Would you typically create more contrast? It's funny that you are saying that because while I was watching them build this, and I don't want to give them any tips or whatever while they're working, but I already kind of envisioned how I would shoot that. And it's a little different than what they're attempting because my style would include a little bit more hard shadow, and I would probably shoot it from maybe a different perspective than they're shooting it, but that's my style. That's not necessarily right or wrong. The idea is that I would probably put a big black card right on this side of the table and deaden out the light going that way. Okay, well if you do that, then that's cool, but the idea is I would be shooting it from a different vantage point. So yeah I think for certain things this balanced light is great because I don't have to manage the highlights, meaning I have to deaden out something. What I can do is add shadow to this and create a really moody effect. So I don't find it problematic, but I definitely would be a little bit shadowy in how the way I do it. Because, you know, I'm a shadowy figure. And Andrew, where would you put the black board? The black card would be, okay, I'm just going to demonstrate just for, I don't want to interfere with what they're doing. But my black card would go right here. I would deaden out the light on this side. And of course I'm going to block them out, so they can't take their picture. Um, I guess you want to look in the camera. I'm just struggling with the depth, how much we have on the table. So you want to go higher? Yeah. So if I was doing this, just you know, first thing the shot and then just seeing how the elements come together in the frame, and then just start to move things around. Yeah, yes. I like the styling, and I like the way you pulled the gray and the silver from the bowl underneath in the with the rag. I think that's really nicely complimentary. And I think that the colors from the inside of the bowl and the tabletop also compliment one another. That's a really nice job of kind of putting that together from a stylistic perspective. At first I was thinking red because just to balance with the color of the soup, but then with like just giving that patina of the plate underneath. It's great, really nice. It's a really nice composition. Do you want to take a look? Sure. I'm concerned, I don't know if it will work or not. I'm not sure about the spoon. Yeah, the spoon just needs to. Spoons are tricky. Yeah, the direction. It's true. To pull you into the frame or not. And we do have a little fun tak like if you need to put that in an awkward position. Okay, and you guys have five minutes. You guys are up to your five minute mark. Five minutes left? Five minutes. Great. The composition is great. I'd be interested in what. We're just balancing back inside the room? Yeah, and it's also minimizing the distracting reflection on the wine. Do you want to block a small fit here and then? Yeah. Okay, so do we have the small black cards? We do. Okay, perfect. And we've got some clamps here for you. Unless you like that? To me the reflection is distracting. Yeah, go for it. I can hold it. I'm not sure if we'll be able to. I would take a test shot first. You can't just trust your eyes. You really got to see what the camera is seeing. Because sometimes what you see with your eyes is really a little bit different from what you're going to see in the camera. So I would work off the test shot first for sure. Mark three has a lot more points to choose from. Now you have your trigger release there too, if you don't want to. So, okay. Now what are we, what is the first thing that is a little weird about that? The balance. The spoon's cut off to me. No, it's the fact that it looks like it's going to roll off the table. Right, it's a little bit crooked, so the first thing you need to do is adjust your camera to make sure, and then you can start to worry about how to adjust your light. Because I think your camera is kind of off kilter, and it's kind of creating this awkward thing. And the thing about your spoon, your spoon is nowhere to be found. It's kind of lost on the backside. And it might not even need a spoon. I mean sometimes these shots you just want to take that out. That's true. Go ahead. I don't think that spoon. It's not happy. No. I don't think I have it adjusted enough. I'm also thinking getting down more. Yeah, I'm not liking the reflection on the spoon. Just take him out. You've got yourself squared away better. Yeah. For sure, the spoon's in a weird space like you said. So I think a shallower depth of field. Yeah. And getting really down into. Coming down here we're just going to get, maybe we can darken and put something back there. Just slide a black card in behind it. Yeah. You want a big one or a small one? I don't know, big. Big one. Is the back of that one black that you're holding? No, it's white. I thought we had a black one. Yeah, we have a black one. Oh, it's right behind you. Yeah, I was hiding it again. There you go. Is this a 50 or a 100? That's a 50. Okay. Yeah. So we got any response on what we're doing here, and do we have a question that we want to talk about real quick before they finish up? Well I do want to mention that the entries for the Facebook contest are rolling in from all over the world, right. So we've got people from Germany, Oman, Ireland, Korea, Israel, Columbia. These are like tons of photos from all over. That's amazing. From showing us your lunch, so we really want to thank you guys out there for doing that. And please, keep them coming. We want to see your lunch. That's excellent, great. So there were questions about, from Fashion TV in Singapore, with regards to highlights on soup. Okay. So it was kind of a double question talking about soup. How do you decide to have highlights, especially on clear soup, or do you need to create highlights on clear soup? Um, I guess the soup surface. Do you want highlights all the time? Or how do you prevent the soup from looking oily? Well I think that you do, it's not, I wouldn't say anything is all the time, but the idea is that sometimes when the soup is a little oily, you may want to use the idea that the light will hit that oil or the liquid to kind of give you a highlight that you can work around and make it look more appetizing. But I would say highlights and soup kind of go hand in hand. Anything liquidy, you want to play with your highlights and use them to create depth and dimension. Because if anything, if you move around to the other side of your table, you probably are going to find that it flattens out, and then you don't have any dimension. So I think that's the key, is that the highlights are the thing that gives you depth and dimension in your image and makes it seem like it's three dimensional, instead of flat and one dimensional. So that's for sure. I think you guys have got about a minute to go. That's all we need. I'm liking what going with the suggestion of the wine glass coming off, just move the napkin. Now with only a minute, we can't play much more. Yeah, you're getting there. I would, let's play with that one more time and just see, see if we can get something like, just make, take a shot and see if that helps. That's not my favorite spoon. It's a little shiny and stuff and that's not, you can't control that, but just from compositionally, I would like to see what that looks like. Yeah, fog it up. Yeah, I mean we're getting there. You know what if you had more time obviously I can tell that if you had more time you would play with this and move it around a lot. I think it's pretty interesting the way you decided to deaden out the light on this corner, and that was that highlight that we talked about earlier and the thing you identified right away. But then you realized it wasn't going to work with your shot from this perspective. So I think, you know, I think under the gun you did a really good job. And like I said, I think that the strength of your composition was that you picked out some really great things to style with. And it looked, and the food looks good in the bowl. And I think you did a great job, so excellent. (applause)

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.