Fresh fruit food photography

In this series of food photography classes Karl teamed up with food photographer Anna Pustynnikova. Together they demonstrate essential preparation, styling and lighting techniques for eye-catching food photography.

Simplicity is key in this seemingly chaotic scene. Anna uses an assortment of fresh berries to create a beautiful, eye-catching image using just one studio light. She explains the preparation and styling required for this shot while Karl demonstrates a number of alternative lighting techniques that could be used to enhance the shot.

In this food photography class we cover the following:

  • Product Photography: Food Photography
  • How to store and prepare fresh berries for food photography
  • Useful equipment for food styling
  • Testing and selecting suitable backdrops and props
  • Using color to enhance an image
  • Suggested lighting modifiers for food photography
  • Depth of field selection
  • Alternative lighting setups
  • Emulating natural light using studio lights

If you enjoyed this course, don’t miss our live show with Anna, which you can watch here.


  1. I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that flat cutting boards and used for fish, meats, and cheeses while grooved cutting boards are used for fruits that may have lots of juice, such as watermelon or pineapple.

  2. Another excellent video tutorial. I’ve learned so much from all of them so far. I knew nothing about food styling or food photography before I started watching these. By the way, the name of that “line” in the cutting board is called a “groove” in American English. Maybe there’s another name for it in British English.

  3. How did you create base surface with the unique texture which looks kind of stone .
    And from where and how I can make or get those surface to make my product very natural moody kind of.

  4. Hi Karl,

    Any alternative for lighting equipment that are affordable but still good brand, when you just starting your photography journey, I don’t have that budget to spend on the lighting.

    Could you please give me your advice on the brand bellow, if there is any equipment I still can get, they are not the expensive or the cheapest ..

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Lili, consider Elinchrom or Godox (at essential photo I think Godox is rebranded Pixapro) Other economical brands are Bowens.

  5. It is all good and informative but I have one comment , too much talking about the obvious … long videos tend to make one lose focus, perhaps you need to re-edit and present more to the point shorter videos.
    36 mins in and we are still choosing the board !

  6. Karl,
    Nice video. I’m planning to start a youtube channel on food video. My plan is to have a c stand setup for overhead shooting.
    1)Can I know the lighting equipment (hexagon shape ) that is used in this video? I will need the complete details, like light, stand and diffusor details and other cheap alternatives and how to make light soft without reflection.

    2)Is cannon 35mm f2.8 efs stm lens is good for overhead food video shooting?

    Also, do you have any tutorial on Food video compared to photography?

    1. Hi Jaai,
      1. please see the equipment list on the page on the right, lower down.
      2. It would depend on the height you are shooting from*
      3. Sorry no
      I would also like to add that it appears from your comments that you are looking for a solution to a particular problem or scenario. Unfortunately though good photography doesn’t really work on having ‘one setup’ as every situation has differences, such as shape, reflections, distance etc. I would thoroughly recommend you watch this chapter to get a better understanding of some of the key principles

  7. Beautifully done. Thank you Karl and Anna

  8. This is the first video I’ve watched, and I’m very impressed with all the little details. I have recently purchased some props, a slate base, and will be giving this a go tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to watching more videos Karl.

    1. Great Stuff Trevor. Anna is back with us next week for new courses filming and two live shows, so look out for those.

  9. Really greatful for the tutorial. Would love to give some feedback and make a request.

    The request is if we could see the other images that you referred to. The shot without the scrim, the one with the scrim, and the ones with the high and low daylight

    Feedback would be that I’d love a transcript. I know they are super expensive to create, but it will help me when I want to get back to certain topics that I’m able to find them easier. I suppose an alternative to a transcript would be to have a summary of the points with corresponding images. Or another would be lighting diagram maybe.

    1. Hi Darren, I’ve just checked through the video and there are some direct comparisons, I think the main one you are looking for with the Octabox vs the scrim and hard light is shown at 1:37:33 (but you’re right it should be identified more clearly) there are also several comparisons from 1:33:00 through to the end of the video too comparing the hard light position and its effect. I will ask our video editor to take another look at the cuts on this though and see if improvements can be made. As for transcripts there are english subtitles on the video if that helps, although we don’t believe lighting diagrams would be any more beneficial than what you see in the video. Kind regards Karl.

  10. Really like how you compared the backgrounds… and seams we all are kind of same… I also feel often my stuff is so poor compare to the others… but my mates think exactly opposite… really great to see how “real” the stuff is you serve! Thank you for that Karl!

  11. Karl, when does a soft source of light become almost too soft? Is there a rule of thumb that bigger is always better? I wonder how would it look if you used that bad-ass 2x2m diffuser panel of yours.

    1. Hi Bogdan, yes I think that would be too soft. We mostly use the big scrims for glossy products purely for the reflection in the object but for other items a bit of bite and contrast is welcome. Hence bringing in the harder light in this example at the end of the lesson.

  12. Hi Karl, this was a really good tutorial. It would be really good if you could attach one image from each new light setup you did in the end. I never saw a side by side comparrison in lightroom, only maybe a small flickering. I like to have them side by side and analyze them to see in detail what huge impact your small attribute did.

  13. Thank you Karl and Anya. This is great alloy of food stylist and light master. Your work with light makes me feel same as I got from Igor Sakharov workshops last autumn. The amount of work over details is the difference between nice and great photo.

  14. Really enjoyed this, learned a lot that I thought I knew. I was wrong, going to try it this weekend.

  15. Great Tutorial Karl. I’m loving your courses. I have a question concerning your camera settings: When you proceed to the shots, you’re constantly in manual focus or automatic? or do you first auto focus on a point of the product after you immediately switch to manual to block your focus then you shoot?
    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Andrew from FRANCE

    1. Hi Alexandru, I’d be planning on 4 hours for something like this. But it could be done in less with experience.

  16. May i ask ? i know this video is for learning purpose and good job by that, but how long it takes to make this kind of photo if it was for a payed job ?

  17. Absolutely fantastic video!! I am just looking to get started in food photography, and have recently purchased 2 x Neewer 460 LED panels. I got these as I need good portability, but they are very bright (even at the dimmest setting), so could you recommend the best way to diffuse the light a bit?

  18. Sorry Karl …. another question …. but you didn’t do any post-production on this image? I mean saturation, contrast, spot removing

  19. Hi, is it possible to know where I could find the two sides background Anya uses I this video? Thank you a lot!

    1. Hi Micaela, I beleive she has a woodwork shop make these for her. I often find old table tops from second hand furniture stores.

  20. Thank you Karl and Anya. This is the best course I have ever seen. I’m Italian and I never found a good food photography course in Italian. You helped me to realize that I didn’t really know anything about food photography 🙁

    1. Hi Larry, in product photography or food then it always has to be the hero point, so in this case the berries in the middle of the board. The depth of field is quite shallow but as you will see in the close up image at the end the DOF extends far enough that a good cluster of berries are sharp. In product photography (watches, cosmetics, etc) then usually the DOF is a lot more.

    1. Hi Christopher, your local sign manufacturers will have acrylic, in the US it’s called Makralon and it’s also available from wholesale plastic suppliers.

  21. Great Tutorial. I’m loving all the courses. In special, what is the spray that Anya is using to clean the board and put some little water drops on the berries? Thank you.

    1. its just water she put in a little spray bottle, you can find those spray bottles at most homeware or catering supply stores (maybe even gardening centres)

  22. Hi Karl,

    I really enjoyed watching this video. It’s great to see the process that both you and Anya go through to perfect this shot. Your teaching shows many different and unique ways to use studio lights to create some amazing looks. The lighting set-up to make soft and hard shadows that truly mimic sunlight was brilliant! Can’t wait to try this myself!


      1. Hi, I generally light from left but it often depends on the subject material but the eye prefers to read an image from left to right.

  23. Hi Karl lot to think about, would not have tried this type of shot, so I am going to see what
    I could do , you got me thinking about it , need get bits together and we will see
    thanks so much again
    frank garvan

  24. Really good instructional video. You mentioned briefly that you could obtain similar effects from window light; having limited lighting options at the moment, do you have any tips on the natural light approach?

    1. Hi Norman, biggest north facing window you can find and place your subject close to it (north facing to avoid direct sunlight) if it’s south facing and cloudy that’s OK, or you can add diffusion over the window.

        1. You are welcome, thanks for joining and please spread the word and we will keep working to bring you more and more! 🙂

  25. That was Amazing Karl and Anya! Some of the best education on food photography I have ever seen. I love that you went through every little detail to showcase exactly what happens. Great Job!!!

  26. Great video, thanks for posting 🙂
    Is there any chance that you could attached any of high resolution hero shots so we can take a closer look at the results you were getting?

    1. Hi Anthony you should get a good idea of the results in the zoomed in pan at the end of the video. If that’s not sufficient I’ll see if we can post a zoomed in crop of the shots on the page to show the detail achieved.

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