The food we eat is not only a pleasurable experience, it's something that can be shared with others. And when you're trying to communicate the deliciousness of your pastries, burgers, pasta, chocolate cakes and more through photos - there are very few things that compete with taste! Taste is always your number one concern! But being able to communicate how great your bakes are through photos may very well be your second. Shopify, one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms, claims that plating, lighting, and composition are all controllable parts of food photos that are essential.
Food Photography Props
So you've finally baked your way to the perfect recipe, and now you're faced with a dilemma. How are you going to take photos of your delicious food in order to share it on your website, blog post or social media? We all know that having great pictures is important for attracting new customers, but how do you find props that will really make your food pop? Today, we’re exploring some essential food photography props and where to find them, for your food photos that will help you ace every aspect of a hunger-inducing photo each and every time.
Antique Prop Shopping
Finding food photography props that are unique and beautiful can be intimidating. So unless you’re going for a "busy" shot, it’s best to rely on a fewer number of large props first. One of the most invaluable props includes wooden boards or large plates that can serve as photo backgrounds.
After all, no one wants to see ugly napkins under a busy plate when looking at a food photo! But a cute, vintage-inspired white wooden backdrop can induce the feeling of adventure and picnics through a screen.
Consider shopping for pre-owned pewter plates, vintage pie pans, antique breadboards, and more on eBay or at your local thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and more. If you have antique stores close by, this is a great place as well to snag some great props. You just might be able to find some vintage props or other affordable options while also reducing waste in the world!
Unique Cutting Boards
What screams value more than a beautiful prop that is functional, too? Cutting boards don’t have to be boring slabs of wood, and when you find a beautiful one, they can make baking and cooking more enjoyable.
They’ll also make your food photos look amazing as you show off a beautiful taste in tools alongside your dish. A few popular options for unique yet functional cutting boards are marble cutting boards and darker grain wood cutting boards. If your storage space allows for it, invest in more than one wooden cutting board. These are one of those items that the more we use it the better it gets and it just becomes that perfect prop. You can also find more creatively shaped fun cutting boards like these lemon and pineapple fruit-shaped options. These are great additions for summertime fun.
Utensil Creativity: Cute Spoons, Wooden Forks, and More
More beautiful yet functional food photography props include unique utensils. Think, wooden spoons and forks, or ceramic spoons with designs. These are particularly useful if you often follow recipes needing tablespoon measurements or make different renditions of a smoothie bowl.
Say goodbye to your trustworthy but uninteresting, water-marked metal spoon from Ikea. Say hi to reusable and beautiful kitchen utensils that can double for functionality and beautiful photos.
Craft Stores for Prop Accents
If you’re on a time crunch, heading to a local arts and crafts store is always a great option when looking for food photography props and backdrops. Some favorites you may find include uniquely textured fabrics for a pretty lace background and small baubles for a whimsical aesthetic. This is an easy way to stock up on small details or props of different colors. Sometimes these are even a good place to grab white bowls of varying sizes or just different dishes that you might only need one of instead of a set of eight.
Common craft stores in the United States include Michael’s, Jo-Ann Stores, and Hobby Lobby. Have you heard of the Hobby Lobby challenge? The trend was widespread amongst teenagers in 2018, and involved individuals taking photos with flowery props inside Hobby Lobby before editing them to look like outdoor shots. The results were magnificent, albeit the plethora of teens going to stores just to take photos did anger many employees.
I’m not encouraging you to do the same (it’s never a good idea to make someone else’s job harder). However, the challenge only proves how well a good prop or even a fake plant can serve in a great photo.
Discount Stores for DIY Props
The Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, and even Five Below are known for one thing: affordability. But did you know that depending on the location, they can be a goldmine for adorable food photo props?
Many dollar stores sell beautiful mason jars perfect to hold chocolate pretzels. You could also find ribbons and fake flowers for half the price of those at traditional craft stores. You can get creative with custom balloon options, which can be a great way to accentuate a milestone for your food blog or personal life.
Washi tape, planners, burner covers, wire baskets, and more are often available at these stores. If you’re not looking for a particular prop set-up, starting with a trip to a discount store can be a great starting point to get the creative juices moving on a budget.
Sometimes you need a specific color, size, or texture in order to make your dish look more appetizing. One of the most inexpensive places that sells these types of items are fabric stores! A little bit of fabric is one of my favorite props to use. I can go to places like Sur La Table or West Elm to find napkins or tablecloths, but fabric stores are so much more economical. A small bit of fabric usually takes my food images to the next level.
Planning Your Food Photoshoot
Now that you have a bunch of ideas for beautiful food photography props and where to find them, it’s time to go over a few composition guidelines that can help save you from accidentally pairing props that don’t match.
When creating a food photoshoot, try to stay away from incredibly detailed patterns in backdrops or secondhand props. Remember that the focus of your shot should remain on your food item. Having busy patterns or bright neon props can take away focus from your main subject.
Next up is plating. Where will your food sit in the shot? Will it be a bit messier for an artsy look on a lace napkin? Or is it a decadent pancake set on a small dining plate so that it almost overflows? Sometimes abundance is the most enticing thing!
Don’t be afraid to play around with different plating options and sizes. Whether or not your food should take up most or very little of the plate can communicate different moods and feelings through photos alone. Rely on your personal style and your brand message to help convey moods.
We recommend experimenting with various photography props to find what works best for your food photography. Try different colors, textures and shapes of plates, bowls or spoons. You might also want to investigate lighting options such as natural light (if you have a window in the kitchen) or artificial light if not.
Creating the Perfect Food Photos with Props
You’ve aced the perfect cupcake, or created the most beautiful croissant. But when it comes to sharing that baked treat beyond tasting it, photos are the best way to let your creation live on, forever.
Start your journey toward finding amazing props for your food photos online today and consider visiting a dollar-based store or a crafts store near you for more inspiration. You’ll be surprised by what gems you find! Here at SerenaLissy.com, we marry my two loves of food and photography and would love to help you further in your journey. Read more on how to create a composition for your food photography shot in my article Food Photography: Composition Made Simple.
Five Day Food Photography Challenge
Want to take your food photography up a notch?
I’ve been photographing food for years and have learned some tricks of the trade. Join me on this 5-day challenge where you’ll learn how to master the art of food photography, one bite at a time. You’ll be amazed by what you can do with just a few simple tips. You will learn how to make your photos pop with color, texture, and lighting. Sign up today!
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. What that means is if you click on one of our affiliate links, they may toss a few pennies our way for a commission.