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How To Photograph A Pizza Cheese Pull

There’s something about a perfect cheese pull shot that makes people CRAVE pizza.

So in this post we will give you some tips on how to photograph a cheese pull so you can get the perfect photograph of a pizza.

Things you’ll need: 

  • Tripod
  • Camera & Lenses
  • Lighting (use whatever you have) 
  • Pizza/pie server
  • Remote shutter release (*only if you don’t have an assistant)
  • Oven 
  • Pizza ingredients
  • Mozzarella cheese (grated or cut to shape)
  • Cheese grater if you are grating your own cheese
  • Knife to slice pizza
  • Putty 
Photo by Nicolás Perondi on Unsplash

What Is The Best Cheese For A Cheese Pull?

Mozzarella is the best cheese to use for cheese pulls because of how stretchy it is. 

It is best to get your own block of mozzarella and cut or grate it yourself. If this is not an option just use pre-grated cheese. 

How To Prepare Your Set

When shooting any type of food photography, you want everything in place before shooting since food can change so quickly. 

Get a stand-in pizza which you can place where your final pizza will be to prepare your lighting and settings. 

How To Light For The Cheese Pull?

For lighting, try to stick with back lighting or side lighting and use enough diffusion since cheese can look greasy if the light is too harsh. 

If one side of the pizza looks too dark then use a white reflector to bounce some light back into the scene (placed opposite the light source). 

To style your set, you can place ingredients like tomato, blocks of cheese or other toppings in the background.

Not only will it add context to the image by giving the audience an idea of the flavour but using fresh ingredients will give an illusion of how fresh the pizza in the image is. 


Remember to consider the positioning of the lighting and the person lifting the pizza slice and how it can affect your lighting.

To be safe, keep the light source on the opposite side of the set to the slice of pizza that you will be lifting.

So, if your pizza slice is on the right side of the pizza, keep your light source coming from the left side of the pizza since the person lifting the pizza may end up blocking the light source.

What Is The Best Angle For Photographing Pizza?  

Since pizza is quite a flat food you don’t want to be shooting straight on as you won’t see enough of the pizza. Raise your angle slightly till you get to a comfortable angle . 

The best angle for a cheese pull will probably be somewhere between 10°-40°. 

The other angle that works well for flat foods like pizza is a 90° angle where you shoot a flat lay. In this position, you will be shooting directly above the pizza.

It might not be best for a cheese pull, but can work for standard pizza shots.

What Lens To Use For Photographing Pizza? 

You want to focus in on the cheese pull and its details so use a longer focal length to get close up shots. Lenses like 85mm or 100mm are good options. 

Once you have got your shots of the cheese pull you might want to shoot a flat lay. For this you can use a 50mm since you may struggle to fit the whole image in with a longer focal length. 

You are normally shooting in a studio as a food photographer so it is also useful to have a macro lens.

A macro lens allows you to be closer than normal to focus.

With food photography, you want to avoid using wide angle lenses since they can distort your images.

This is especially important for shooting circular objects like pizzas or plates since the shape won’t look fully accurate. 

Don’t forget to consider the crop factor effect if you are using a crop sensor camera. The focal lengths mentioned above are considering a full frame sensor.

Read this article if you are unsure of what this means:

How To Shoot The Pizza For The Cheese Pull? 

  1. Pre-cook your crust before you do anything else. While it may seem weird, this will help you to pre-cut a slice and arrange things on your pizza in the best way. It also helps to make sure your pizza is firm enough for the cheese pull.
  2. Cut a slice in the crust which you will use for the cheese pull later. 
  3. Spread your sauce on the pizza, but keep it limited especially on the slice you will use. Also try to avoid getting it too close to the edge of the slice so it doesn’t leak out. 
  4. Now get your mozzarella and place some strings across the line that your slice was cut. Place it so half of the string is on the slice you will pull out and half is on the other part of the pizza. If you want to make it a more natural cheese pull you can leave some bits a bit more empty while others have plenty of cheese. If you just want a wall of cheese just put lots of cheese.
  5. Now add the rest of your cheese and your toppings on top. Try not to have toppings overlapping the line where the slice is cut unless you are going to pre-cut the topping as if it was cut in the same spot as the slice. 
  6. Prepare the rest of your set if you haven’t already and get your pie/pizza serving spatula ready and in place. Make sure your settings are ready too.
  7. Set your focus using manual focus. Do this using a hand as a stand in directly above where the slice for the cheese pull will be. Make sure you have enough depth of field so that when you lift and pull the slice the shot is still in focus. You want the stretchy cheese and the slice to be in focus.
  8. Once your set is ready, cook your pizza. The cheese in the middle should be melted enough when the edges of the pizza have started to brown slightly. You don’t want the middle of the pizza to be brown because that means your cheese has started to burn and won’t stretch.
  9. Place your pizza in place on your set where the cheese pull will take place. You can place it on top of the pie/pizza server as this way you don’t have to mess about with sliding it in.
  10. Wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute since you want the cheese to cool down just slightly. If the cheese is too hot it will snap easily instead of having a good stretch.
  11. Lift the slice using the server and start taking your shots using a remote shutter. It can be helpful to tether your camera to a laptop so you can see the image as you shoot. If you have an assistant then just shoot manually and instruct your assistant as you can see the image directly through the camera. **TOP TIP** You can use some putty and place a small amount in the centre of your pizza server. This will reduce the chances of the pizza slice sliding off the server.
  12. Go and edit your images if you are happy with your shots. If you still aren’t happy then go to step 12.
  13. If you haven’t gotten your perfect shot you have two options:
  • Put the slice back in place and use a heat gun to melt the cheese again to try another cheese pull. 
  • Start from the beginning with another fresh pizza – using a fresh pizza will have the best results but sometimes you can get away with reusing the same pizza. 

For some visual representation you can watch the following 2 videos.

One is using a frozen pizza (video by The Bite Shot) while the other is using a freshly made pizza. They also have some of their own tips which you can use.

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