Editorial Food Photography: Waffles

Discover how to make waffles look wonderful.

Learn how to make the subject the hero of the shot in this food photography class with Karl and professional food photographer and stylist Anna Pustynnikova.

In this video, you’ll learn how to choose a background that complements rather than distracts from the subject, how the choice of outfit can be used to juxtapose the subject and make it stand out, and how you can use effective lighting setups to make the subject pop. Photographing waffles as an example, Karl and Anna walk you through the start-to-finish shoot to demonstrate how you can achieve this eye-catching editorial-style image.

In this class:

  • How to photograph food
  • Food photography lighting setup examples
  • Lighting techniques to make the subject stand out
  • How to use colour in photography
  • Outfit choice and styling

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

For this waffle food image, we utilised a number of subtle techniques to really draw attention to the subject and make it stand out.

As you’ll see in the class, one of the first things we addressed was the choice of outfit. Eventually opting for the blue denim jacket, this provided a great contrast with the golden yellow of the waffles, the bright red berries and pop of green mint.

Food photography image

Using colour to make the subject stand out.

Lighting was the other key tool used to help make the subject stand out. There were a couple of techniques I used to do this, including controlled patches of light on the waffles, berries and mint and a beam of light on the background to help draw the eye to the subject.

Food photography lighting setup

The full lighting setup for this shot can be seen in the video.

Throughout this class, you’ll see how just slight adjustments can really help enhance the final image, and in the end I was very pleased with the result.

Food photography waffles

The final waffles food image.


  1. Hi Karl!
    I always learn so much with your videos~thank you! I was wondering if you always use a color checker for food shoots?

    Thank you!


  2. Gary Stasiuk

    I haven’t really taken any specifically food images yet, but I’m doing my research on it. I found a mass of images which introduce the human element into the image, somewhat like this image. Hands dropping berries or sugar or spices or herbs. I currently don’t have the luxury of models.. or assistants for that matter, and I’m weighing the need for that human interaction and touch because it does add a little more complexity and logistics. In doing my research, collecting examples for inspiration, I was completely surprised to see how many images have that human element. In my mind, I first started with the premise of a still life, limited focus, with some element caught above in the air.. flour or herbs or perhaps steam. However, with so many images with hands actually doing the interaction, I was curious if for an editorial, is it a preference or a requirement to include that human touch to make the image more viable to sell?

    1. Hi Gary, I think it’s 60/40 against. Many of the articles I see in food magazines, cook books, hotels, etc are just of the food or the ingredients which is also popular. Human interaction is sometimes like in a series of shots but this is nothing much more than hands doing something and anyone one with good hands can play the part. It does bring extra difficulty to the shots though because of hand positions, lighting, timing etc. If I was you’d and you wanted to try food photography then I would start with simple raw ingredient shots first, then moved up to cooked dishes and then people.

  3. I look forward to the day I have enough studio strobes to be able to just keep adding them into the shot until it’s perfect. Very useful tutorial for considering how to control the viewers focus with lighting, thank you.

    1. Hi Thank you. It’s worth pointing out though that many of my best images are shot with just 1-3 lights. A great example of this is the Natural Decay shot recently and many of my product images are 1-2 lights. So a lot is possible with less and when we understand the principles it’s amazing how mirrors and other items can double for ‘another light’. I only mention this as I want to ensure that people still see what is possible and don’t become disheartened if I wheel out 7 or 8 lights, sometimes this is just for efficiency and other times they are needed but certainly not always. 🙂

  4. Hi Karl,

    Loving your content so far! A question I have for you is, if you are not fortunate enough to own a projection light, what would be another option for getting the focused beams of light?

    1. Hi Thank you, You will see the answer to that in the duck leg shoot and also the live food shoot on the meat, as well as many of the other tutorials and other live shows! Keep watching 🙂

  5. Hi Karl,

    I really enjoy watching your video`s. I just want to say that you are absolutly blessed with an assistant like Ashleigh. She is so patient, and just the sweetest person. All props to Ashleigh if you`d ask me!

  6. Hi Karl and Anna,

    Beautiful shot! Love the berries , I’m guessing they are red currant berries?
    Brought from Moscow. Were they fake berries? If so where can I buy them? I have seen shots with these type of berries on Instagram and they really do have the wow factor when lit beautifully like here.



    1. Author

      Hi Tracey. Yes these are red currants. We were able to source some here in Guernsey, but Anna also brought some over from Russia. You should be able to find them in your supermarkets, but they can be tricky to find out of season.

      1. Thanks Ashleigh,

        Just found out they are in Season July/August so will have a long wait before I can use those beauties in a photograph. Guernsey? Is that where Karl’s studio is?



  7. Hi Karl and Anna, thanks for this tutorial. I would like to make a question if still possible, after months.
    How did you come with the choice of the denim jacket, what was the reason behind?
    I am asking because to me this type of outfit gives me the idea of a beer out with friends, rather than a sweet served nicely. This might be a cultural boundary, that’s why I am asking, no polemic intended.
    Thanks if you will find the time to reply.

    Maurizio Caravaggi

    1. Hi Kareas, the main reason is that yellow is the juxtaposing colour of blue which means the waffles (yellow) will pop out more from a blue colour than a warm colour. At the time this was the only blue clothing we had when setting up the shot.

  8. Hi Karl

    What did you use the 1x broncolor Softbox 30×120 for.
    I see a light behind you with modeling lamp in the distance. Is that it? Where was it pointed?

    I clearly see the use of the large softbox, the two picolites, the background light with grid and the reflector but not sure where the other softbox mentioned was placed.

    1. Hi Michelle-Anne, The 30×120 on camera right is to add a bit of light to Ashleighs arm. The light behind me in the distance is likely the video light on me so the cameraman can have enough light to film me.

  9. Hi Karl,

    Lovely shot, as always. One question: if we don’t have the possibility to get pico lights, could snoots work? Any ideas on how to achieve those highlights on the berries and leaf other than photoshopping it?



    1. Hi Jorge, yes a snoot with a tight grid on it can usually get you a small enough patch of light to do something similar.

  10. Ciao Karl and Anna,

    have you ever took photos of ice creams? I am working with a producer and I am finding it really challenging, it would be interesting if you have any advice or tip to treat it for a shooting.

    Best, Matteo

    1. Hi Matteo!

      I have a couple of tips. If you can substitute the real ice-cream with any other ice cream with the same look, you need to find the ice cream ( or prepare) with less fat and sugar cause it keeps shape for a much longer time. Perfectly it should be really hard in the freezer. I always make ice cream balls in advance, place them on a plate and freeze it before shooting, it also helps them to keep the shape for a longer time, and you can change faster melted with a new one.
      Hope it helps!

      1. Hi Anna, thank you for your kind comment. Unfortunately I had to shoot for a company producing a specific ice cream and I could not make a fake one. I used though your advice, shaping it before and then putting it in the freezer. What I also used is an ice spray, who helped to keep it cold a bit longer 🙂 I posted the photos in the FB community, the banana cup was the most difficult one! Cheers.

    2. Hi Matteo,

      I have used mashed potatoes and it looks just like ice cream. You can add food colorants to change the flavors. Hope it helps.

      1. Thank you Jorge for the comment, unfortunately I had to use the original one. Nice tip for another shot though 🙂

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