Shooting Fresh Fish

As part of our latest series of food photography courses, Karl and food photographer Anna Pustynnikova work together to produce this fresh fish image.

This fresh fish food photography course covers composition, styling and lighting for food photography. Anna demonstrates how best to compose and style your food images (and also provides some useful tips for preparing and working with raw fish) while Karl covers all you need to know about lighting setups for food photography, including how best to maximise texture, shape and form.

Course objectives:

  • Learn how to photograph food
  • Lighting setups for food photography
  • How to create gradient lighting
  • How to photograph fish
  • Tips for keeping food fresh for photographing
  • Food styling tips

In this food photography class Karl and Anna undertake this fresh fish shot using a simple lighting setup and careful control of colour and composition.

They key thing for this image was the styling. In fact, the shot required very little in terms of equipment and lighting (members can view the full equipment list of the right-hand side of this page).

The lighting was a fairly straightforward setup in which Karl used one light to create gradient lighting. Gradient lighting is a common technique in product photography and is particularly useful when photographing subjects with glossy surfaces.

Styling the fresh fish image

This fresh fish image required a simple gradient lighting setup, which was achieved with just one light.

While Karl was working on the lighting, Anna continued to work on the styling of the image. She reworked the composition of the shot a few times to get the right feel to the image, but also explained that time was of the essence when working with fresh ingredients like fish.

Styling the fresh fish image

Styling was a key part of this image, with careful consideration given to colours, textures and lines.

When styling an image like this, it’s important to keep in mind compositional elements such as colours, textures and lines. You’ll see how Anna and Karl used each of these elements to guide the viewer’s eye and keep them in the shot. So even if you’re working against the clock, take your time to get these details right.

The final image:

Fresh fish food photography

The final fresh fish image.


  1. Hi Karl. Another wonderful set and amazing results.

    Could a strip box work in that setup? Even though it wouldn’t cover enough height but a fair amount in the scrim’s width.

    Thank you.

  2. I hear that modeling career’s for lobster’s are not very long. A little buttering up could help them decide to continue. But then again… maybe not! ……….. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Great course with an interesting simple gradient setup. Another great setup for small spaces. I love the look of the Octopus and the Crab. The lighting really worked well with those.

    1. She wouldn’t come out of her shell 🙂 Thanks yes I’d like to explore lighting just an octopus at some point it has such wonderful textures but then again I like looking at Octopus in the sea so don’t choose to eat them very often.

  3. Very interesting as always with just one light and a large scrim.
    The visual is always best before any shoot.
    Well done again and thank you so much for each tutorial ..

  4. Wow, very impressive with the octopus! Great photo all around. With these food photos I am realizing that having some of the elements strategically cutting out of the edges is much more pleasing than centering everything and having bare edges all around.

  5. Hi Karl, thanks for this course. I’m just wondering what the background is made from? As it looks like a big piece of slate.

    1. Hi Thomas, it’s actually a grey plastic that Anna had made to look like grey slate. Also using chalkboard spray paint on a textured surface can create the look of grey slate.

      1. Thanks Karl!

Leave a Comment