Food Photography With Natural Light: Pasta

No studio? No problem. Try this simple shoot at home.

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.

In this class:

  • 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

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

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. I am Korean and I paid after watching YouTube.
    There are Japanese subtitles, but I don’t understand why there are no Korean subtitles.

  2. Hi Karl,

    Why do you like the shutter speed to be the same as the focal length of the lens – like 1/50 SS for 50mm lens?


    1. Hi, I don’t. I think it was mentioned to make sure your shutter speed is at least the equivalent of your focal length if shooting hand held to ensure you don’t have image blur. This is just and old rule of thumb (which does have some merit) for example if shooting hand held with a 200mm lens then you should at the very least use a shutter speed of 1/200th but it would actually be better to use a faster one if you could.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

Leave a Comment