Styling and Shooting Burger Photography

Live On: Thursday 15th July 2021 - 15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT

Open wide! In this live show, Karl tackles one of the most challenging food shots out there: the mighty burger.

With Georgie busy in the kitchen prepping the food, and Emma helping to fine-tune the lighting, Karl and his team demonstrate the creativity, experimentation and attention to detail that this kind of shoot demands.

Karl sets the shot up using foam chips and burgers as stand-ins for the real thing. Then he brings in a test burger for final refinements to the lighting and composition. Why? Because capturing food when it's freshly cooked is crucial to creating a mouth-watering image.

Top styling tips shown during the shoot include a glaze to make the bun look more appealing, how to melt cheese just so, and how to get that lovely glossy look on the burger itself. As he modifies and refines the lighting - answering viewers’ questions in real time as he works - Karl uses a variety of lighting modifiers and basic studio kit.

The final result is a vivid, ad-style shot - good enough to eat!

To learn more about food photography and styling, check out our complete food photography course, presented with top food photographer Anna Pustynnikova.

In this live show:

  • Food styling
  • Modifying lighting
  • Compositional tips
  • Backgrounds for food photography

Questions? Ask them in the comments below.


  1. If you don’t have a parabolic reflector, what size reflective umbrella would you say is best to achieve the same look? The Broncolor Focus 110 is about 104 cm diameter, so would you consider this the minimum or would a larger umbrella be better? Also, would white or silver interior be best? Thank you

    1. Hi, if you are trying to replicate true parabolic reflector such as the Para 133 or Para 88 then I’d say your best bet would be a 70cm beauty dish instead of the Para 88 and a Deep Focus 110 instead of the Para 133, they won’t be the same but they will give a sculpted contouring. A normal silver umbrella won’t do as well. Please see our ‘comparison app’ in your home page.

      1. Thanks Karl. Now you’ve got me looking at the Focus 110 … haha ,.. Already spoke to the only retailer here and he will check stock for me tomorrow.

  2. For the snoot light issue, could you have used one of the Godox V1 lights with its snoot (part of a kit) and grid? Or would the beam of light been too small?

    1. Hi I could have used one of my projection attachments which would have given me precise control (you’ll see me use it in many other classes) it’s just on this class we decided to show alternative options.

  3. Hi Karl,
    Where can I find the tutorial on making the timber bases and backgrounds with Tim that you mention please?

  4. Good refresher course. I might take some pictures in a few weeks of food or drink to practice with my camera.

  5. Hi Karl, I’m wondering what is the definition of a ‘key light’ ? Is it the brightest light, or the light that is key for the subject… And in this burger shot, would the key light be the para or the snooted light? Thanks

    1. Hi, the key light in my opinion is the light that is most significant to the image but this can be open to interpretation especially on a shot like this. Key light definition is more commonly used in portrait setups to dictate which is the main light on the front of your subject but in instance where your backlighting, rimlighting your model or subject but only putting a little shadow fill it would be hard to depict the front fill as the keylight. So I’d say which everlight you consider to be the most important in terms of mood, exposure and brightest intensity.

  6. Great lesson Karl and per normal another great image. My question is just a simple gear question. How come you do not use a DC cord for your camera since you shoot tethered and affixed to a monopod?

    1. Hi Sean, sorry I understand now that you meant a power cable. I’m not sure really just never thought about it, I get about a day out of a battery on the H6 and when shooting tethered with the H5 I think you could also have some of the power coming through the tethering cable.

  7. good day ,
    Will you be using your 100mil or for a bit of wide angle drama the 80.

    1. Hi John, I only used the 100mm for this one which is equivalent to about 75mm in 35mm full frame.

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