Healthy Living Flat Lay Food Photography: Raw Vegetables

In this food photography class, you’ll learn how to photograph a selection of fresh vegetables and see how different food photography lighting setups can influence the mood and feel of an image.

For this shot, Anna works on styling a flat lay arrangement of fresh vegetables while Karl experiments with multiple lighting setups and explains how the position of each light changes the effect. You’ll also learn how to re-create this image using just one light.

In this class:

  • Learn flat lay food photography
  • Food photography lighting setup examples
  • Lighting modifiers and their effects
  • One light food photography setups
  • How to enhance texture, colour and shape in food photography
  • Selecting backgrounds for food photography
  • Food styling tips and tricks

For this food shot, Anna and I wanted to create something that would convey the feeling of a healthy lifestyle image with a rustic setting.

We incorporated a number of different vegetables as we wanted to include a variety of shapes, colours and textures. For the styling of this shot, Anna’s advice was to mix up your colours and pay close attention to the lines and flow of your image. Achieving a balanced image is key if you want to achieve a pleasing final result.

Anna shared her professional food styling tricks.

Once the styling was finalised, I experimented with the lighting. My initial lighting setup used two softboxes, placed in a low position to really bring out the texture, and I adjusted the balance of these lights until I achieved the country kitchen style lighting effect I wanted.

Food photography lighting setup using softboxes.

For the second lighting setup I added more directional light to highlight key areas of the shot using picolites with fresnel attachments.

Food photography lighting setup using softboxes and Picolites.

Results from the additional Picolites.

I then switched to a Para 133 to see the difference.

Using a Para 133 for food photography.

Using the Para 133 I then demonstrated how it was possible to get a really good result using just one light. To do this I made use of reflected light to bounce light back into the cabbage, which gave a similar result to what I had achieved by using the Picolites. You can see another example where I do this here.

The final image:

The final fresh vegetable flat lay image.

To learn more about food photography styling, check out Interview With Food Photographer Anna Pustynnikova and Food Photography With Anna Pustynnikova.

If you enjoy this class, be sure to watch Photographing Candy Using Colour TheoryRustic Food Photography: Roast Beef and Still Life Food Photography: Cup of Tea.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. LizP

    Thank you so much for this. I so enjoy watching you work and playing with subtle effects of lighting. I was able to go ahead and use some of the same methods for a flat lay I was shooting…Once again so happy that I found your hands on, no nonsense training just at the right time when I am needing to deliver more professional results to my clients.

    1. Hi Liz, that’s great to hear and thanks for your comments that’s much appreciated. I’m sure there are plenty more that we have for you to enjoy too. I see you’re in Australia which might mean it would be difficult timing for you to join our live shows live but you might enjoy the ‘no nonsense’ approach and they are all available on replay. All the best Karl.

  2. So many great tips~Thank you!
    I was wondering about name of the mister/sprayer that Anna was using, and if she was just spraying a mixture of water, oil, or glycerin? If so, can you please tell me the ratio? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Susan, it was just water in this case from a standard misting bottle. She does use glycerine or oil in some of our other classes but I think she painted that on with a brush.

  3. Hi Karl..great job!…i have two questions?
    1) Where is the tutorial about food backdrops you mention in the video?
    2) The vegetable in the left corner up…is not a bit dark?

    Thanks and please continue this giant effort!

    1. Hi, The video on making the backgrounds should be here in about a month and I guess regarding the vegetable it is personal preference. My choice was to reveal texture and there but not draw attention too much as the main area of interest should be towards the middle of the image.

  4. thanks for this tutorial.. the Anna stylist as usual looks delicate, natural and effortless although behind this looks generally are several hours of work and planning..Karl thanks to explain the different light set up possible specially when you explain how people commonly set the soft box high and tilted ,..this it what I was thinking to do today ,..but obviously the location of the two soft boxes at the near to the food level give the natural mood expected for this photo.

    1. Hi Maria, yes always consider some sort of textural lighting for food, which can still be combined with soft light but then you can choose the balance between them.

  5. Another great tutorial! Thank you for bringing in the para for this as well. I haven’t tried it with my food images yet but this got me really inspired.

  6. Excellent tutorial with deep explanation of lighting options and great styling tips! Waiting for next tutorials.

  7. Hi Karl and Anna,
    loved watching this tutorial a lot. The low angle lighting was very convincing. I’d be happy to know the benefits of grid attachments on the softboxes if any. Thanks

    1. Hi, Thank you. Grid attachments on softbox will stop the light spreading around your studio as much (which in a small studio will increase contrast) and they will also make the light a little harder than without them. They are also useful when you are backlighting a subject to avoid flare into your camera.

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