Photographing Food with Natural Light

strawberry parfait


Since I have been in cooking school my appetite for food photography has developed. I discovered a class called Natural Light Food Photography thanks to fellow food blogger Lynne of Cook & Be Merry. I would have titled the class “How to Shoot Your Food at Home with Whatever You Have Available and Make it Look Fabulous”. Ok, that‘s too long, but you get the idea. This class is geared for chefs, food bloggers and foodies, but I think it’s great for the home chef as well.

The class was taught by professional food photographer Christina Peters with Prop and Set stylist Amy Paliwoda

Christina and Amy


Christina has been professionally shooting food for 18 years. Her photography is gorgeous, but more importantly to us as students, she was able to communicate her craft in terms we could all understand. We were navigated through camera settings that pertained to SLR’s all the way down to the iPhones. Lighting techniques were explained, working with back light, side light and fill cards that we could make at home. The importance of working with a tripod was emphasized as essential to a successful outcome. Did you know the iPhones can be used with a tripod?

Amy has been styling sets and food for 15 years. She taught us about the elements of food styling and gave us 9 steps for styling a great shot. We went over the basic tools needed, such as small spray bottle of water to make food look fresh, and museum wax to hold food in place. Amy says, when you are styling food you are telling a story. It sounded so romantic when she explained it. She gave us lots of tricks and tips of the trade that I found to be very insightful.

At this point our brains were full but our stomachs were empty. We stopped for a light lunch provided by Christina and Amy. Now we are ready to jump into action.

Equipped with all our newfound knowledge, we began to create our mini masterpiece from a table of props and food Amy had prepared for us. I was like a kid in a candy store with so many intriguing things to choose from.

Christina was attentive to each of our shoots helping us with lighting and camera settings. Amy was always close by to assist us with food styling tips.

At the end of the day Christina showed us the basics of color correcting photos and optimizing them for the web and print.

Click here to check out Christina’s photography classes in Marina del Rey, CA.

Here are a few of the photos I shot during the class.

Strawberry on a fork    

    old forks


Quote of the Day

“The question is not what you look at but what you see!” – Henry David Thoureau

Food lit by natural light looks… natural, as it should be.
That is what I want to see.
…and then she paused for thought.


About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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14 Responses to Photographing Food with Natural Light

  1. Amy February 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Cathy, it was such a pleasure to work with you yesterday! We’ve been lucky to meet such amazing and talented people in our classes so far. Thank you for the lovely post, look forward to keeping up with your future work! Best, Amy

    • cathyarkle February 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks Amy. I can’t thank you enough for such a great day of discovery and learning.

  2. Nan February 13, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Wow, beautiful! Great work. I look forward to seeing more of your work with food and photography. Can you make ground meat and uncooked sausage look enticing?

    • cathyarkle February 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

      Thanks Nan. I don’t think I will ever be able to make sausage cooked or uncooked look enticing as I will probably never work with it again… unless I have to 🙂

  3. Leslie Macchiarella February 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Nice! I’m glad to hear more about this class. It sounds like fun! I love your photos but I’m so partial to your old forks. They are really feeding me a little bite of their history. 🙂

    • cathyarkle February 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      Leslie, I think they used to wrangle cowboy cake for breakfast 😉

  4. Lana February 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Your photos are gorgeous! I have a lot of natural light in my apartment, but my pics don’t look like that:)
    Improving my photography is one of my goals this year – I am glad to see I am not alone:)
    Hope to see you soon!

    • cathyarkle February 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Thank Lana. I highly recommend this class. They teach you how to work with what ever you have. I hope to write as beautiful as you do someday!

  5. Lynne @ CookandBeMerry February 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Wow, your photos turned out fantastic! I especially like the Parfait and the one with the Strawberry on the Fork. Beautiful!

    • cathyarkle February 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Thanks Lynne, coming from you that is a real compliment as I think your food photography is some of the best out there!

  6. Christina Peters February 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi Cathy! It was so fun having you in class and love that you got so many great shots! Thanks for coming!

  7. Nusrat Azim April 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Wish I could join you guys. I’ve just started food photography and having so much fun 🙂 Great to find a bunch of talented photographers and bloggers here.

    • cathyarkle April 23, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks Nusrat! Your photography is gorgeous on your blog as well.


  1. Natural Light Food Photography Class – Student Photos - June 11, 2013

    […] a ton of great shots Saturday in class.  Here are just a few.  Cathy has a great blog – She Paused For Thought.  She did a nice post about our class too.  You can see the rest of the class photo gallery […]

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