Still Life Food Photography: Cup of Tea

In this food photography class Karl continues to work with food photographer Anna Pustynnikova as, together, they demonstrate essential preparation, styling and lighting techniques for eye-catching food photography.

Simplicity and elegance are the key ingredients in this next shot, as Karl and Anna photograph a cup of tea. This photography class shows the gradual build up of both the styling and lighting leading up to the final shot. Karl uses just a two light setup and makes use of some surprisingly simple tools to add an enchanting aspect to Anna’s elegantly styled creation.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Product Photography: Food Photography
  • How to photograph liquids
  • Selecting different props to achieve the right aesthetic
  • Different light modifiers and their effects
  • Reducing highlights and controlling reflections on shiny surfaces

Don’t miss Anna’s live show β€” watch it here.


  1. Normally the oily film on the tea is heavily related to too hard grade of the water.
    Use filtered water or really soft water from natural spring.
    With that you will get no film on the surface and really golden tea color which also does not degrade as fast.
    Regards Andreas

  2. Hi Karl,

    Very lovely …

    Another question regarding the light on the top, approximatively, what was the power of the flash?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Louna, I’m afraid this was sometime ago so I can’t recall. I would have talked about in the video but as always I just adjust the power until it looks correct to my eyes. Even if I were to tell you the exact power unless you also had the exact same light and modifier and also knew the exact distance from the subject then it would always yield different results so it’s better to simply access it by eye.

  3. Purtroppo non parlo la lingua Inglese quindi vado ad intuito , i punti luce sono due? Una sopra e una in basso?

  4. Hi Karl
    Thank you very much for the very informative video (and beautif as well).
    I have a question. What are the general rules to avoid camera above casting shadows on the surface underneath?

      1. Oh, simple! πŸ™‚
        Thank you!

  5. The shoot was awesome as simple cup of tea was given a highly professional look. Just wanted to know what was the exif details and whether to get the final pic after post processing , focus stacking was done.

  6. Hi Karl,

    Thank you again for this professional high level video,.
    I have a question regarding the light from the top, it’s seems like there is almost no light ?
    Any extra informations..

    Thank you

    1. Hi Lili, yes you are right but there is just enough to make that lovely catchlight reflection in the surface of the tea.

  7. Hi Karl,

    What’s the material for the pink tabletop ? It looks pvc for me but pvc is usually glossy or semi glossy.

    1. its just MDF board painted with matt paint, Karl uses that for most backgrounds and surfaces now as it gives the smoothest look compared to paper rolls etc that wrinkle

    1. Hi Amit, if you are using a FF 35mm camera than generally between 50mm and 85mm and also the 100mm macro lens. In medium format my preferred choices are 80mm, 100mm.

    2. also Amit you can find the equipment lists for each shoot underneath the video on the right, hope this helps πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Karl,

    Are you going to provide us with post production for this class… I would like to see how removed to tape on the cup…that would be great

  9. This was amazing as always <3. Thank you for everything and for all the inspiration and great work.

    You have a great sense of humor BTW πŸ˜€

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