Working to a Brief 3: Blueberry Muffins

For our third ‘Working to a brief’ challenge, members have been tasked with creating a breakfast scene image of an arrangement of blueberry muffins.

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! 

All the details you need to complete the brief can be found below, as well as in the accompanying live show (we recommend watching this live show as it may feature additional useful information and advice). No further guidelines will be provided.

Studio portrait using umbrellas

Working to a Brief - Challenge #3

Now available to watch on replay

In this live show Karl outlines the brief for a bright, fresh breakfast scene of blueberry muffins

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The brief

The aim for the project is to produce an advertising-style image of an arrangement of blueberry muffins to be used in recipe and cook books, blogs, and restaurant menus*.

A sketch has been provided for guidance, but the final composition does not have to match exactly.


You are required to produce a well-composed image of blueberry muffins with fresh, sparkly lighting that invokes a sense of freshness and desirability.


Blueberry muffins, wooden board (light to mid-colour and rectangular/round shape), bowl (white), blueberries, glass of milk, fork, tablecloth (white/cream colour), and napkin (white/cream colour).

Sketch of muffins for photography brief
Art director's sketch.

Image layout

The sketch above illustrates the desired layout for the image (please note the colours are for example purposes only).

The breakfast scene desired is of a typical homely scene, with a board of fresh blueberry muffins placed on a table, covered in a white/cream tablecloth, ready for serving.

An arrangement of three blueberry muffins (one broken in half) should be arranged on a wooden board in the centre of the image. An optional white/cream napkin could be used to create separation between the muffins and the board if necessary, but this is not essential.

A glass of milk should be placed in the bottom right of the frame to create depth. A small selection of blueberries should be arranged in front of the wooden board, along with a napkin in the bottom left of the frame. A fork and bowl of additional blueberries should be placed in the background. Please note the depth of field requirements, as shown in the art director's sketch.

A horizon is shown in the sketch, but depending on the size of the table this is not essential.

The camera angle should be from slightly above and the crop should be a 4x5 ratio.


The mood of the image should be bright and fresh, with the muffins and other items clearly lit.


The lighting for the image should replicate that of bright sunlight on a hazy day.

The image should be backlit with the key light coming from the upper left, with shadows falling naturally in a front-right direction. The shadows should be visible, but not too dark.

A specular light on the blueberries should clearly be visible, as shown in Mood 1.

Image titled ‘Mood 1’ and ‘Mood 2’ best describe the desired lighting. Image titled ‘Mood 3’ illustrates shadows that are too hard, and image titled ‘Mood 4’ illustrates shadows that are too soft.

Example image with good lighting

Mood 1

Example image with good lighting

Mood 2

Example image of shadows that are too hard

Mood 3

Example image of shadows that are too soft

Mood 4


The board of muffins should be placed on a table/surface covered in a white/cream tablecloth.

Two whole muffins in paper cases and one muffin broken in half (not in a paper case) should be placed on a rectangular or round wooden board that is light to mid-wood in colour. An additional white/cream napkin may be used to add separation between the muffins and the board if required (though this is not essential).

The focus of the image should be on the muffins, with the broken muffin sharp. Please note all the muffins can be sharp, but the second muffin (the front whole muffin) can be less sharp, and the third muffin the least sharp.

Annotated photography brief sketch of muffins

A glass of milk should be placed in the bottom right corner of the image to create depth, along with a white/cream napkin in the bottom left. A small arrangement of blueberries should be placed in front of the wooden board, towards the bottom left of the image. These could be around and/or on top of the napkin. All of these items should be out of focus.

A small fork and white bowl filled with extra blueberries should be placed in the background of the shot. Both of these items should be out of focus, along with the horizon (if visible).

Please note the sketch provided for this brief offers a guide for the composition. Each element does not have to match exactly and you are expected to use your own judgement to create a compositionally pleasing image, as explained in the live show.

Brief summary

  • Three blueberry muffins (two whole, one broken) placed on a light to mid-colour wooden board
  • Whole muffins should be in paper cases
  • Table with white/cream tablecloth as base of shot
  • An optional napkin may be used to create separation between the muffins and board if required
  • Glass of milk, napkin, and blueberries in foreground
  • Small fork and bowl of blueberries in background
  • Muffins in depth of field zone, but foreground and background items out of focus
  • Back lighting from upper left
  • Visible shadows that are not too dark
  • Specular light on blueberries
  • Bright, sparkly lighting with overall light, fresh and airy feel
  • Optional view of out-of-focus horizon
  • 4x5 ratio crop

*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 of 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 submission of your final image is 13:00 BST / 08:00 EDT on Wednesday 23rd September 2020. These will be reviewed by Karl in a follow-up live show on 24th September.

Please note that no image substitutions will be allowed whatsoever. The first image you submit is final and is what will be reviewed by Karl.

To view the entry form login or non-members sign-up here to join Visual Education.
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Recommended Content

Knowing how to interpret and execute a photography brief is a valuable skill for photographers to have. To help our members practice this, we feature regular 'Working to a brief' challenges. You can find links to the previous briefs below; any future briefs will be listed on our live shows page.


  1. Hola.

    Carlos Villa de Colombia

    No he visto la producción de mi foto de muffins en la revivisión del dia de hoy.


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