It’s easy to get carried away with prop shopping when you first start out as a food photographer. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on handmade props, thinking they will transform your photos.
It’s a common mistake that we all make: believing that more props will make it easier to take great photos. But, we forget to look at what we have at home.
Props are not only inexpensive (basically, free) but they also make great gifts. Here are six props that you can use to enhance your food photography. These are likely items you already have.
Prior to a recent Mother’s Day shoot, I was reluctant to use bed linen in photography. (See above). I wanted to recreate the feeling of a comfortable bed but with a stable surface. I used white bed linen to cover my table. It worked so well that I started to experiment with other colors and made it my background.
It is a great idea. It’s not cheap to buy a backdrop for photography. The bed linen is there, just waiting to shine. You won’t be able to tell anyone that you have used a useful prop from your home.
It doesn’t matter how ironed it is. The more texture the linen has, the better. To avoid any accidents, use at least four clamps when attaching the bed linen to the shooting table.
Plants are another prop that I can’t seem to get enough of. It can be difficult to create a seasonal mood when photographing food. This is especially true if you are just beginning to learn lighting and editing.
Flowers and plants can help you create a seasonal mood, but they also serve to provide clues for ingredients.
As an example, take my rosewater hot cocoa shoot (above). To make it easy for the viewer to connect the roses with the drink, I used both fresh and dried roses.
However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive flowers. I prefer to use small succulents and herbs that are already in my garden. You could also grab dried flowers and reuse them.
While not all grandmas have a large collection of vintage cutlery pieces, almost everyone has some old kitchen items that can be used to photograph.
As are plates and teacups, old teacups make a great example. They are often more intricately textured than modern crockery and make a great addition to your photos. These intricate patterns are a little more difficult to include in your photos so be careful. Keep it balanced between old and new!
I love old recipe books and notes, just like the one in the above picture. They are so special and can give a wonderful rustic vibe.
You are asking me: “Are pickle jars going to wow viewers?”
Pickle and nut butter containers make a great prop for photography. They are small and easy to incorporate into any scene. I prefer smaller jars that can be used as cups, as in the iced coffee photo above. You can also use a label maker for small text to add context to the jars, such as flour or cocoa powder.
Candles are big in decorating homes. They look great and instantly give off a cozy feeling.
Why not make food photos with them?
You can choose small or medium-sized candles. These will not draw attention to your hero but add interest. They are great for seasonal shots such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving.
You can impress people by using unusually shaped candles. The bubble and twisted candles are perfect examples.
The list would not be complete without one of my most beloved props: I use baking paper for crisp, clean shots.
Most of the time, I just take a sheet and fold it in half. Then, I place it on my shooting surface as above. This adds amazing texture and its transparency ensures that the white doesn’t become too distracting.
I have learned that simplicity is often the best approach, both as a food blogger and a food photographer. These are the things that I remember when building my prop collection:
Size My small prop collection helps me style food faster and pushes me to reinvent the props I already have.
Variety: I need to be able to use my props for different clients. My pieces are mostly minimal and neutral with some brightly patterned pieces in the middle. While you should stick to neutral props, don’t be afraid to use bold ones when necessary.
Source Try to source props from second-hand sources if you are able. This is not only better for the planet but it also saves you money and gives you more unique props. It’s a win/win situation!