Food photography with natural light – Pasta

Food photography doesn’t necessarily require extravagant dishes or professional cooking skills. In this food photography class, Karl and Anna demonstrate the simplest and easiest way to photograph food at home.

Using nothing but natural light, Anna demonstrates how to style a home-cooked bowl of pasta before explaining what props and equipment you’ll need. Karl explains the lighting, the advantages of shooting with natural light, and also demonstrates how to use positive and negative fill to control your light.

Class objectives:

  • Show how to photograph food at home
  • How to photograph food using natural light
  • How to style home-cooked food for photography
  • Affordable accessories for food photography
  • Food styling tips
  • Camera settings for natural light food photography

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comments section below.

NOTE: This class is available with English subtitles.

Using studio lights for food photography does make it easier to control your lighting, but the truth is that amazing food photography can be achieved using little more than natural light. This is what Anna and Karl wanted to demonstrate in this food photography class — how you can photograph home-cooked food in your own kitchen with nothing but natural light.

To keep it simple, Anna decided to photograph a bowl of spaghetti, which she topped with a store-bought jar of sauce. This is a simple dish that doesn’t require a high level of culinary skills and can easily be done at home.

Home cooking example

Photographing food at home can be done using simple ingredients.

For the styling Anna shot the image on the dining room table, using a selection of props and fresh ingredients.

Food photography styling

Starting work on styling the image.

Once she was happy with the composition and styling, the next step was to perfect the lighting. For this stage, Karl and Anna experimented with different types of positive and negative fill, demonstrating and comparing the effect of each.

Food photography lighting setup

Results from different types of fill light.

This class aims to show just how simple food photography can be and is ideal for those just starting out in photography. It also covers some powerful information about how to control light – knowledge that can be transferred to any genre of photography.

The final image:

Pasta food photography image

The final home cooking pasta image.


  1. Good tips. I just got interested in food photography recently again. I have used Nikon and Canon crop sensor DLSR. Hope to take some pictures of food for fun next month.

  2. Thank you so much, Karl! Will watch these today.

    I did do a quick search for tilt and shift lenses… is that a supplemental lens that can be added to an existing lens?

    1. Hi Allison, no they are standalone lenses. What camera are you shooting with and I’ll point you in the right direction.

        1. Hi Allison, the 6d mk2 is a great full frame 35mm camera, any of these tilt and shift lenses would work with it – – knowing how tilt and shift work then the 50mm or the 90mm would be your best choice for food photography. I’m guessing you currently shoot food with a 100mm macro? So the tilt and shift is one way and the other is to go beyond just the ‘lens corrections’ and manually correct the converging angles. You can do this is lightroom with the ‘straighten’ tools and also in PS. I’ve got a course on this coming soon.

          1. Thank you so much, Karl!

            Yes, I do shoot mainly food and drinks, and doing some product and bottles as well, and the drinks and bottles are what trip me up with this issue.

            I would love to watch your course, I can’t find one anywhere! I did look through your site before I wrote in. I tried playing around with a few things in PS but it didn’t turn out that great.

            And, I will also look at these lenses. I do use the 100mm and also my 24-70mm, but, since I do so much work with these subjects, it would be worth investing in the 90mm.

            I look forward to your course on this. Thank you again!

  3. Hi, Karl and Anna!

    I am a food photographer, mainly, and am writing to see if you can help me navigate an issue that comes up quite often in some of my lifestyle photos, very similar to the one in this video.

    Often, when I am shooting several vertical items, like glasses or bottles, I can only get one to line up vertically, and the others end up being off center, tilted to the right or the left. I can’t seem to fix it in lens correction.

    Do you have a video that addresses this issue? Or, can you help me figure out what to do in Photoshop to get all of the items to line up straight?

    Thank you so much!


    1. Hi Allison, that is called converging verticals which occurs when shooting down or up at something that has tall vertical objects or lines. Tilt and shift lenses or view cameras with tilt and shift can overcome the problem but you can also overcome the problem in photoshop if you shoot the picture slightly looser than you intend the final image to be. These two classes may help you:

  4. Hello Karl,
    I just joined your membership today. It’s very helpful. I have a question related to food photography. I know 100mm macro lens is the good lens for food photography. I did some research and I know many food photographer recommend 100mm macro lens. However, I am a Sony user and I just bought my Sony A7III. What macro lens for Sony A7III do you think is good for food photography? I did some research and I am considering between ( Sony SEL90M28G FE 90 mm f/2.8-22 Macro G OSS ) and (Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro Art). Which one you think I should buy if I want to shoot for food photography? Thank you very much

    1. Hi, thanks for signing up and make sure you watch through the Lighting Theory chapters before straying too far into other classes. The Sony 90mm Macro G is an excellent lens.

  5. Hello,

    I noticed Anna kept climbing onto the table to look through the viewfinder. Was this to see exposure in the camera meters or for composition? She said she always shoots tethered, so I was curious. I don’t remember if Lightroom shows a Live View, but I know Capture One does, which is why I purchased it recently. Great video!

  6. Some great information here. 👍 It seems as though you have presented these videos in reverse order 🤔

  7. These food photography tutorials are awesome. Anyone can try food photography. I agree… Ana is awesome…. you too Karl. Lol. Thank you!

  8. I would love to be able to pause the video and have it fully download and then watch. The video seems to stop and I need to click around for it to start up again.

    1. Hi We’d love to but unfortunately translations are very expensive and we just don’t have enough demand for it at the moment. All our videos do have english subtitles though if that helps.

  9. I’ve come in a bit late watching this but I’m so pleased to see it was shot in a domestic setting.
    Its what I’ve called ‘kitchen sink’ photography. Showing what can be achieved with what one has at home and no studio paraphernalia.
    In a word; Brilliant!!

  10. thanks for the Wonderfull tutorial .. i wonder why Anna didn’t use the laptop for taking the shoot .. it’s more easy as that you use tethering .

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