Shooting Fresh Fish

Convert a fresh catch into a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Are you ready to take your food photography skills to the next level? Join Karl Taylor and food photographer Anna Pustynnikova as they dive into the world of fresh fish photography. From catch to click, you’ll learn the secrets of composing, styling, and lighting to create stunning images that capture the true essence of fish.

In this comprehensive course, Anna shares her expertise in food composition and styling, including valuable tips for working with raw fish. Karl guides you through lighting setups specifically tailored for food photography, maximising texture, shape, and form to create visually striking images that stand out from the crowd.

In this class:

  • How to photograph food like a pro
  • Lighting setups for food photography
  • Gradient lighting for dynamic images
  • Tips for keeping food fresh for perfect food shots
  • Elevate your food styling skills to create visually captivating images

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

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. Gary Stasiuk

    Very interesting photoshoot. About how long were you two working with the fresh fish? It looks like it may have taken a couple hours.. or more. Lobster was alive, but crab wasn’t. Curious if the crab was a throw away… inedible. I think crabs produce a toxin once they die.. something like that, so was it only useful for the shot, or am I wrong on that? I would like to try something like this at some point, but the shot has a fair cost outlay for product. All saveable in this case?
    Oh and the fake slate.. sourced from a place that does counter tops? Or flooring? I’ve been looking but so far not found a source that can do single piece to this kind of size.

    1. Hi, yes it was a couple of hours but would have been quicker if we weren’t producing a lesson and filming. We ate the lobster, not the crab as it was dead to begin with. The other fish was not saved unfortunately as the studio had warmed up and we had also handled it a lot but the seagulls enjoyed it. This particular slate is a piece of textured plastic that has been sprayed matt dark grey, it looks really good and I asked Anna if I could get some but she sent it from a supplier in Moscow who made it.

    1. Hi Mohamed, f11 for the sweetspot of the lens and good depth of field and the shutter speed doesn’t matter because it was being lit with studio flash so as long as my shutter speed was enough to cut out any ambient light from my modelling lamps then it would be good. See our Lighting Theory section for more info on these topics.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ..

  5. 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.

    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. Hi, Karl! I also had a question about the background, thank you. What kind of plastic is this? I’m in America, maybe it’s called something else here? I want to try and make one!

        1. Hi Allison, it’s a tricky one as I’d also not seen this type of background before. It is basically trying to emulate stone/slate and it is something that Anna had made in Moscow, I’ve not seen it here in the UK. You could of course use real slate from a stone supplier but I can check to see if there is any more info from Anna.

          1. Thank you.

            Yes, it would actually be fairly easy to get actual slate or stone here in Dallas, but, my concern is that those can be so heavy and cumbersome. To be able to emulate one like this on a much lighter surface and have it look this nice would be great! I’ll look into it more.

          2. Hi, Karl…

            Me again.

            One thing that would be great to know is, how she made the backdrop waterproof. If you happen to know that.

            Thank you so much!

          3. Hi Allison, it was already plastic so waterproof from that but I’ll see if I can find more details.

          4. Ahhhh, ok. I think I misunderstood and thought that the base was a plastic and she painted over it. Ok, then. That makes more sense. Thank you.

          5. Hi Allison, I’ve messaged Anna for more info and will come back to you when I hear from her.

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