Tag Archive for: artificial light

Food Photography Equipment You Need

Let’s talk about food photography equipment because who doesn’t love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Throughout this article, I will show you what food photography equipment I currently use and what I’m using it. So you’ll get a good glimpse into what a professional photographer needs to create their stunning work. But remember that building any collection, whether prop or gear, takes time. I only had some of this gear when I first picked up my camera!

Let's talk about food photography equipment because who doesn't love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Note: This page may contain affiliate links to products and services I love to use and recommend.

Camera and lenses

Ever since I started photographing food, I’ve been using Canon. I am currently using a full-frame camera, Canon EOS 6D mark II. However, I started with a hobby crop-sensor camera, Canon EOS 600D, which I still use for some of my behind the scene and styling session photos.

The lenses I currently use are:

Canon 100m 2.8 macro

Canon 50mm 1.8

Canon 85mm 1.4

Canon 25-70mm 2.8

I used to have a Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens, which I adored and would recommend anytime since it produced beautiful photos and which survived a huge fall. However, it is only applicable to crop-sensor cameras.

Unsure how to use your camera? Be sure to read all about Manual Mode. Or you might want to read about camera angles and which lens to use when.

Natural light gear

Working with natural light usually requires a modifier of some sort. I mostly use my large 5-in-1 120x90cm diffuser to soften the light coming through the window. I love that it can use covers in 4 different colors to use as reflectors or black flags. Often I don’t need such a big reflector, which is when I use a smaller Neweer 60x90cm 5-in-1 diffuser/reflector.

Whenever I need to modify light with smaller modifiers, I love using a cardboard self-standing A3 reflector or a 5mm white/black foamboard which I can cut to the needed size. (Note: The foamboards in the links differ from what I use since I bought them locally, so I can’t guarantee the quality.)

Let's talk about food photography equipment because who doesn't love a chat about what gear you need as a professional food photographer?

Artificial light gear

I prefer using a flash over continuous light when working on stills. You can check my Artificial Light for beginners workshop if you want to know why and learn more about working with artificial light. 

Currently, I’m using three Quadralite Stroboss 60 C units, which are 60Ws speedlights. And I use the Godox SL60 continuous light for video and some stills.

Working with artificial light requires careful manipulation. There are many options out there. The main softboxes and umbrellas I currently use are:

Quadralite 60×60 softbox

Foldable Godox 60×60 softbox (for on-location shoots)

Godox 70×100 softbox

Soonpho 22×90 cm stripbox

Godox 120cm octagon umbrella

Studio gear – tripods and stands

I started with very basic tripods, which I still own and use from time to time, but I’ve fallen in love with my Manfrotto 058B Triaut Camera Tripod (discontinued). Having a sturdy tripod makes work so much easier. I’m using the tripod with the Manfrotto XPRO Geared 3-Way Head, which is incredible for making precise adjustments. 

For on-location shoots, I use the Neweer tripod with a central column with a ball head; however, I prefer a geared head from Manfrotto, which is much more precise and easy to handle.

For top-down photos or as a stand for modifiers, I’m using the Neweer C-stand.

Another piece of gear I love are the Neweer metal clamps.

Editing software

I use Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop to edit my photos and DaVinci Resolve for video editing.

Join my free Lightroom webinar replay to learn a few tricks and some of my favorite Lightroom shortcuts and watch me edit a photo in Lightroom, 

Organizational software and more

In running a business, the organization of the process is crucial. I use Asana for my schedule, content, and business process organization.

How To Make Artificial Light Look Natural

If done correctly, artificial light can elevate your food photography process and make it easier to handle long photoshoots while producing a consistent look. However, it takes some understanding of the basics of light to make it look natural.

If done correctly, artificial light can elevate your food photography process and make it easier to handle long photoshoots while producing a consistent look. However, it takes some understanding of the basics of light to make it look natural.

The world of artificial light is vast and has so much to offer. You can create looks that are out of this world, but you can also create a photo that looks like it was taken in natural light.

And this is what we are focusing on in this article.

I remember my early days of blogging when I was creating recipes and taking photos, which took me so long. During the time I got from the first to the last shot, my light changed a gazillion times. My editing skills were nowhere near what they are these days, and editing that series of images was a nightmare.

I refused to get artificial light because I was sure it would make my photos look cringe. But then, one day, I decided to get my first off-camera flash (which I use to this date!), and I was so scared to start.

But once I took the courage to test it out and see for myself and practice, practice, practice; this is when I realized artificial light could look exactly like natural light. It’s all about knowing a few key ingredients.

We will talk a lot more in-depth in the live Artificial Light For Beginners Workshop, so if you’re interested in that, click here.

And now, let’s see all the different things you need to do to make your artificial light look natural.

Learn about light dynamics

Working with any type of light, you will notice it has some characteristics. It changes depending on a few factors, and observing those changes is crucial to learn both natural and artificial light.

When we talk about the properties of light, we can divide them into quantity and quality.

Quantity is how much light we have on hand.

Quality is how this light looks like.

I like to teach my students in my Food To Frame course about the four pillars of light dynamics – Intensity of light (That’s the quantity), the color of light, the direction of light, and the softness or hardness of the light (these are the quality side of light).

Learning about these dynamic properties of light is crucial to know how to modify your light when working with artificial light. The key is knowing how light changes when working with a larger softbox compared to a small one or knowing how the distance of the light source from your subject can make light harder or softer.


The bigger the modifier, the softer the light.

The bigger the distance between the light and the subject, the harder the light.

Observe natural light and how it looks in certain situations

There is no better teacher but the nature itself.

Observing how light looks and changes is one of the best ways to learn artificial light. Sounds strange, I know. But if you want to re-create natural light, you need to know what it looks like.

Become a student of light and observe how light in nature:

  • is diffused,
  • gets blocked
  • and gets reflected off surfaces.

Take a mental (or real) note of how this happens and combine this with your light dynamics knowledge.

I encourage you to take simple subjects, like produce or drinks (A simple glass with colored water will do!) and see how it looks in different natural light scenarios.

Use the right modifier (size, diffusion material layers)

Everything always comes to the dynamics of light. There is really no going past that!

There are two important things you need to consider when modifying your artificial light:

Using the right size of your modifier. As I mentioned above, a larger modifier (aka a larger light source) the softer the light and vice versa.

Knowing how many diffusion layers to add. Typically we only focus on the shape and size of a modifier, but what is also very important is how many layers of diffusion you need to use. The more layers you use, the softer the shadows will be, creating lovely, natural-looking soft shadows.

How to use artificial light behind the scenes

Distance is key!

One of the best things about artificial light is that you can move the light around the scene and not the other way around. This allows you to explore how the light looks when you place it further or closer to the scene.

If you place your light closer, you’ll get softer shadows, and placing it further back will create harder shadows. They can both be found in nature, so there is no wrong or right here. But, you need to know what your end goal is to know to place your light.

There is much more to discuss on this end, and we’ll be delving deep into this topic with examples and much more in the Artificial Light For Beginners workshop. I’ll be happy to see you inside if you decide to join.