Working to a Brief 6: Flat-Lay Pie Ingredients

For our sixth ‘Working to a Brief’ assignment, Karl is tasking you with creating a food-and-lifestyle flat-lay shot of fruit-pie ingredients.

Although the deadline for the submissions are now closed and we are no longer accepting entries,  you are welcome to still take part in it and tag us in your results! 

You’ll find all the details you need to complete the brief below, as well as in the accompanying live show. We highly recommend watching this live show as it may feature additional useful information and advice! No further guidelines will be provided.

Working to a Brief — Assignment 6 RELEASE

In this live show Karl will be announcing the brief for our sixth ‘Working to a photography brief’ assignment.

Thursday 23rd September 2021 - 15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT

Read More


Produce a flat-lay image of fruit-pie ingredients to be used for various advertising purposes.


You are required to produce a styled image of various ‘natural’ ingredients. The image is intended to promote a manufacturer of baked goods that wishes to be associated with healthy eating, fresh food, and ‘the good life’.

Annotated brief sketch

© Visual Education

'Art Directors'' visual


Light to mid wooden surface or textured light grey worktop, eggs, cracked egg (raw egg yolk and white) in glass dish, apple slices, blueberries (or similar if blueberries are unavailable), flour, raw pastry, light wooden rolling pin, honey in glass dish, butter in neutral butter dish with inside packaging showing, neutral napkin, chrome whisk, cherries (with stems).

Notes: The napkin may be textured but should be neutral in tone (e.g. light to mid grey or brown) and should not be patterned. Similarly, the butter dish should be neutral in tone (e.g. light to mid grey or brown) or be made of clear glass.

Image layout

The sketch above illustrates the desired composition and layout for the image.

The various ingredients should be arranged roughly as shown in the illustration. The two patches of flour should appear uneven, as if the flour has been spread casually in those two areas. The flattened raw pastry should lie on top of one of the patches of flour.


The mood of the image should be natural, fresh and healthy, and should evoke a sense of timeless simplicity.

The mood images below provide good examples from which you can take inspiration.

Flat-lay food photography example mood image

© Anna Pustynnikova

Mood 1

Flat-lay food photography example mood image

© Anna Pustynnikova

Mood 2


The lighting should be soft, diffuse and natural, as if daylight were coming in through the kitchen window on an overcast morning.

These images of eggs and apple slices and of the rolling pin on flour can be used a guide for the kind of lighting you should aim for.

Flat-lay food photography example mood image

Mood 3

Flat-lay food photography example mood image

Mood 4


The background, which is also the surface on which the ingredients lie, should be a light to mid wooden surface (e.g. butcher block or chopping board) or a textured light grey kitchen worktop. A light grey slate or white marble surface would also be acceptable.


The five apple slices should appear freshly cut, with no discolouration. The pastry should appear to have been freshly flattened by the rolling pin. The chrome whisk should be clean. The raw egg yolk and egg white should be distinct from one another in the glass dish (i.e. not yet whisked).

The camera should be directly above the centre of the shot. The crop should have a ratio of 4:3.

Annotated brief sketch

© Visual Education

'Art Directors'' Sketch

Brief summary

  • An array of fresh ingredients for a fruit pie
  • A wooden rolling pin, a chrome whisk, two glasses dishes and a butter dish
  • A neutral napkin and some brown paper
  • Light to mid wooden, textured or slate/stone/marble surface, which also serves as background
  • Soft, diffuse lighting
  • Camera angle looking down on the ingredients from above
  • Even plane of focus across

This brief is for example purposes only. This is not a professional commercial brief and all requirements are purely for educational purposes.

Please note all images will remain copyright to the original photographer, but Visual Education reserves the right to publish them within its website and on social media.

Submit Your Image

The deadline for entry is 13:00 BST / 08:00 EDT on 20th October 2021. These submissions will be reviewed by Karl in a follow-up show on 3rd November.

To view the entry form login or non-members sign-up here to join Visual Education.
© Visual Education. All rights reserved. No content on this page may be used or shared by third parties.

Recommended Content

Below is a selection of some of our past photography brief challenges. To learn more about photography and commercial projects, you can find a complete breakdown of the commercial workflow in our Business of Photography course.

Annotated photography brief sketch

Working to a photography brief - Assignment #6

Watch Now
Annotated photography brief sketch

Working to a Brief – Assignment 5 Review

Watch Now
Annotated photography brief sketch

Working To A Photography Brief – Assignment 3 Review

Watch Now
Annotated photography brief sketch

Working To A Photography Brief – Assignment 4 Review

Watch Now


  1. Hi Karl,

    I Just missed the deadline but have created the shot.. any chance I can send this through via email somewhere? If not, totally understand.


  2. Hi Karl,

    I just sent you a wrong file by mistake (brief 6). So please take the second one called “erratum”.

    Thank you.

  3. Dear Karl,
    Working to a Brief Assignment 6
    When you are doing your critique on 04th November 2021, with regard to the above, I shall be obliged if you will kindly touch on how one should approach an assignment, when shooting to a specified aspect ratio (in this case, 4:3). Since my camera does not have the option of a 4:3 AR crop (I wonder whether any camera has?), I found it difficult to compose the image in line with the given sketch. I was wondering (after the fact) whether one should arrange the flat lay on a 4:3 base/surface and shoot wide, leaving space around the set and crop in post? Anyway with the aid of the tools available in Photoshop (cs6), I was able to arrive at the specified AR in post. I shall await your review to know where I have failed and what I could have done better. Thanks!
    With regard to the ingredients specified for the shoot, I was only able to find frozen blueberries and frozen raspberries (w/o stems and used instead of cherries, which are not available).

  4. I have submitted my picture last week. Since I did not have a wooden background I tried to create a background which has some kind of a marble feeling.

  5. Hello,

    Greetings from Belgium 🙂

    Is there a chance to put something else instead of cherries ? I searched in a lot of supermarkets but, unfortunately, I could not find them..

    Thank you!

    1. I just watched your explanations about cherries again. I will replace them with something else.
      Sorry for the question 🙂

  6. adorjanizoli

    I have just submitted my picture (Zoltan_Adorjani_Flat Lay Pie Ingredients brief.jpg) for the brief. I only could find cranberries instead of blueberries and blue grapes instead of cherries while I was looking for the ingredients in the town

  7. DavidMorgan

    Hi all,

    Still a couple of ‘brown paper’ references to edit – in the ‘Items’ section and the ‘Brief Summary’ section. Confusing for anyone who hasn’t seen the live show.



  8. Hi team, hi karl, would you please be so kind and consider to give an alternative to the cherries, because here where I live it is hard to find them, autumn comes early here. thanks in advance for considering .

Leave a Comment