Gain confidence through taking control of your lighting. No more chasing the sun or racing the clock. Create beautiful photos on purpose and on your time.

How to Enroll


My boys were toddlers when I started my food photography business.  Finding time to shoot was hard because daylight hours were already so busy and unpredictable.  I needed a way to shoot after they went to bed but artificial lighting seemed so daunting and overwhelming.

But, my determination was stronger than my fear so I started by buying light after light, experimenting, scouring the internet, watching videos, reading books, trying to piece together how to use artificial light in a way that looked natural. 

I left a lot of poorly lit images in my wake.

But, I didn't give up. I did finally figure it out. I cracked the code. I turned all of those complicated numbers and settings and the fancy photographer jargon into something that changed the trajectory of my photography career. 

I discovered I was no longer limited in the types of jobs I could take.

I could do photoshoots at 10pm if I wanted. 

I had total control of my lighting in challenging environments like restaurants. 

No more racing against the clock or waiting for the perfect light.  Freedom!

That's why I had to create this course for you. I've distilled down my years of learning into easy-to-follow, immediately applicable lessons, jam-packed with everything you need to rock artificial light.

Plus, Artificial Academy includes an active online community with direct access to me for support, monthly Q&A calls, and a place to connect with other food photographers who have also joined the artificial lighting fan club.

I'm here to let you know that creating beautiful food photos (and videos) with artificial light is absolutely possible and I can't wait to see you rock it!

How to Enroll

"I haven't found anything like this course before. I was always so confused about artificial light, how to use it, all the equipment to get and how to make it look just as good as my natural photos - Joanie covers all that and more."

Lindsey Eats LA


The Gear

How to Choose the Right Gear for You

Choosing a Modifier

Getting Started with Flash

Flash Settings

Camera Settings for Flash

Setting Up Your Lights

Understanding Flash Exposure

Practicing Flash

Getting Started with Continuous Lights

Setting Up your Continuous Lights

Continuous Lighting Practice

Understanding and Manipulating Light

The 5 Principles of Light

Applying the Principles of Light with Modifiers

The Principles of Color

Decoding the Histogram

Common Lighting Terms and Types of Lighting Defined


Perfecting Side Light

Methods for Back Light

Strategies for Lighting Overhead Shots

Shooting Hi-Key (Light & Airy)

Shooting Low-Key (Dark & Moody)

3 Different Methods for Hard Light

Shooting Drinks and Managing Reflections

Combining Multiple Lights

Shooting Products on a White Seamless Background

Shooting Products on Plexiglass

Shooting in Restaurants

Shooting Portraits on Location

Shooting Drinks at a Bar Location

Lighting Larger Scenes with Multiple Lights

Video Lighting

1 Light Setup for Overhead Food Videos

Lighting Talking Head Videos

Simple Setup for Lighting Kitchen Videos

Advanced Topics

Shooting Action with Flash

How (and when) to Use High Speed Sync

Using Creative Color with Gels

Resources Vault

Assembling and setting up specific lights and modifiers including most popular speed lights, strobes, LEDs and softboxes.

Join the Party

The course comes with lifetime access to 30+ video lessons (and all future additions to the course) and a private community space for you to ask questions, share photos and connect with other food photographers.  It's our very own platform. No Facebook account required. 

Joanie and the other Bite Shot team members pop in to the community at least once a day to answer questions and provide assistance. 

Joanie also holds monthly Open Office Hours Q&A sessions on Zoom for real-time interaction (times vary to accommodate global time zones).  No additional charge, no monthly membership.  

Let's tackle all the styles together!

We're not interested in turning you into a one-trick-pony.
We want to give you the foundational principles of lighting so that no matter your creative vision, you'll be able to create any look you want with your artificial light.
You'll have a framework that will enable you to problem solve in any situation.
The goal is to prepare you to walk into any photoshoot with confidence.

Light & Bright

Want to create those ethereal images and think it can only be done with natural light? Learn how to get the popular bright glowy look with flashes or LEDs.

Dark & Dramatic

Go for those more moody vibes and learn the methods for playing more intentionally with light and shadows to create stand-out food photos.


Capturing Action

Jump into advanced lessons in the course like capturing action, shooting portraits, shooting in restaurants, working with High Speed Sync and setting up video lighting.


Food photographers many times also get called on to do product photography.  The art of lighting products requires unique skills and knowledge that we cover in three lessons together.

"Artificial Academy has been life-changing. I work full-time as an attorney, so prior to learning artificial light, I would cram 4 or 5 shoots into every single weekend. It's so nice to not be bound by the time constraints natural light poses."


What Gear Do I Need?

Check out my Artificial Light Gear Guide for a run down of gear I recommend. Or, if you have specific questions we encourage you to ask for help in our course community space. We don't want you to have to go this alone!

"I felt like Joanie was holding my hand through the entire process. Joanie explains every move she makes -- whether it's moving a soft box and speedlite, changing the angle, reflecting light back onto the scene -- it was all so clear. "

Ari Laing of Well Seasoned Studio

Who's your instructor?

I'm Joanie! Commercial food photographer, YouTube creator and enthusiastic educator. 

I love artificial light and shoot with it 99% of the time.  As a self-proclaimed control freak, the predictability of artificial light makes it an indespensable tool in my studio. But, more importantly, I find a lot of creative freedom in artificial lights. 

Prior to my career as a food photographer, I spent a decade working as a trainer and educator on college campuses. It's a privilege to get to combine my passions for photography and teaching together in this course.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing students master a new skill...except for maybe mint chocolate chip ice cream <3

How to Enroll


Comprehensive but concise.


This course is the most comprehensive beginner lighting course for food photography on the internet.  Generosity is a core value at The Bite Shot and this course is jam-packed with information and practical lessons.

The secret sauce of Artificial Academy is that the curriculum has been perfected over the years and is delivered in a format that's easy to understand and put into practice right away.  

Having personally purchased too many courses that overpromised and underdelivered, I'm on a mission to prove that an online course can be better than in person and help put you in control of your food photography lighting.

How to Enroll

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

Anyone who is looking to start using artificial light into their food photography. Food bloggers, commercial photographers, and product photographers make up the majority of students in the course.

Who is this course NOT for?

Experienced photographers who are already using artificial lighting. Though some benefit can be gleaned, it's probably not enough to be worth the time and financial investment as the lessons are geared toward those who are just starting out with artificial light.

Are there pre-requisites?

Yep! You will need to understand how to operate a camera in manual mode in order to get the most out of the course. If you need to learn manual, check out this video playlist on YouTube or join my Beginner Bootcamp course.

How much time commitment is required for the course?

The total course includes 34 instructional videos, all approximately 8 - 20 minutes in length. However, the core of the course is less than two hours. Many students complete this first section in one day and find themselves creating great shots within the same day.

How much does it cost?

As of March 2021 the price increased to $299.  There is also a payment plan option of three payments of $120.  We never run sales or promotions so don't hold out for a discount.  The price only ever goes up, never down.

Do I need to purchase lighting gear before I start the course?

It's totally up to you.  Some students can't wait to get their gear and buy it right away.  Others prefer to wait until they've watched through the first units in the course so they feel more confident in their gear purchases.  Either way, I'm here to help answer questions about gear before you purchase it and help make sure you're making a good investment based on your needs.

Is it only for food photographers or can other photographers benefit?

The content is created specifically with food photography in mind and all demonstrations are relevant to the experience of a commercial or editorial food photographer.  

Is it only for US students or does the material apply internationally?

This course has been enjoyed by students around the globe!

How long can I access the course materials?

You have lifetime access to all course materials, videos and the online community.  Plus, you also will receive any future updates and additions to the course for your one-time purchase.

What if I need help and want to ask questions?

We're here to help!  In addition to being able to post questions in the community Activity Feed inside the course (not a Facebook group) where I personally answer questions, you're invited to attend Open Office Hours with me, an opportunity to chat in real time over Zoom.  Times and dates vary in order to accommodate different time zones.

Is there a money-back guarantee?

You bet! If for any reason you find that this course will not enable you to learn artificial lighting for food photography, notify me within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

How to Enroll

"It's fun knowing that my images can look like I took them on a bright, sunny day when in actuality it was done at 7 at night. "

Shanna Schad

Enroll in Artificial Academy

Your purchase includes lifetime membership to all course lessons, the online community and all future additions to the course.
All content is on-demand for you to learn at your own pace.

You can choose to pay in full and save some cash or opt for the cashflow-friendly payment plan.

PAY IN FULL - $299 one time payment
PAYMENT PLAN - 3 Payments of $120

"Learning to shoot with artificial light with Joanie (whom I call my photography fairy godmother) has given me the tools to break through and continue to refine my ever-evolving personal style."

Ashley Madden