This post is for all the blog photographers out there, especially the foodies! Sometimes, particularly when you’re just starting out on your food photography journey, it seems like you need to buy all sorts of stuff to take delicious food photos, and it can be a little overwhelming. I know when I started out several years ago I definitely wasn’t thinking, “Yeah, I think I’m just going to throw $500+ at this hobby right off the bat, even though I haven’t done it long enough to know if I even like it.” Luckily, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on fancy photography equipment and props to take some very tasty food photos. In fact, I’d be will to bet that you have these 10 awesome food photo props sitting in your home right now!
1. Wrapping paper, Wall paper, and scrapbook paper
When I first started out with food photography, I realized very quickly that I only had two places with attractive walls and counters to take pictures, and consequentially, all of my food photos were starting to look the same. Sure, you want some consistency in your photos (particularly within each post), but you definitely don’t want monotony. A really easy and cheap way to change things up is by using wrapping paper, wall paper scraps (like the black background in the photo), or scrapbook paper as a backdrop or under your food.
2. Other foods
Seriously, some of the best food props money can buy are other foods. You just made a delicious lemon cake? Showcase that lemony goodness with some lemons! How about a chocolaty fudge with fresh cherry compote? Add some fresh cherries to that picture! Fresh fruits and veggies, candies, egg shells, herbs, and all sorts of other foods make amazing food props.
3. Cupcake liners, cups, and sprinkles
So, maybe you noticed, I kind of do a lot of baking on this blog. I also own a ton of cupcake liners, cups, and sprinkles (Can you ever have too many? I think not!!). But even if you’re not making cakes or cupcakes, these things make awesome props. Cupcake liners and cups are great for displaying ingredients or tipped over to create a strewn food effect. And sprinkles are great for creating texture in your photos.
4. Baking sheets
Admit it, you probably have at least one well-loved, dirty-looking, stained cookie sheet. And you’ve probably been thinking about throwing it away and replacing it with a shiny, new one, right? Well, I’m just going to stop you right there. Old, stained cookie sheets make a wonderful, dark, textured background for shooting food, particularly if you’re shooting light colored foods. Moody, brooding food photos anyone? (Seriously, it’s all the rage right now)
5. Hand towels and napkins
Like cookie sheets and sprinkles, hand towels and napkins can add all sorts of texture to your food photos. They’re also great for adding spots of color, or for lightening the whole photo if you use a plain white napkin or hand towel.
6. Dishware and cups
I imagine most of you have a cupboard in your kitchen full of plates, bowls, cups, and glasses. You probably have things for eating and things for serving. Maybe things are a little mismatched because, hey, you have to start somewhere with dishware accumulation, right? Whatever the case, the stuff you have sitting in your cupboard right now is perfect for food photos. Do you have white plates and bowls? They’re perfect for highlighting colorful or dark food. Do you have small dishes? Those are easy to fill up and make your food the center of attention. Do you have colorful dishes? They’re perfect for adding a spot of color to an otherwise bland photo, or for color coordinating with your food. Whatever the case, you’ve already got some great props to work with!
7. Things you can find outside
Are you struggling to find food photo props in your kitchen? Sometimes all you need is a walk around the neighborhood! Things like branches, leaves, and flowers can make great props for seasonal dishes, or for adding a touch of color to your photos. Just be sure that whatever you use is washed and non-poisonous if it’s going to directly touch the food.
8. Kitchen utensils and silverware
Just like that cupboard full of dishes, you probably have a drawer somewhere full of kitchen utensils and silverware. Don’t underestimate they’re power in adding some life to your food photos! Kitchen utensils are great for process photos and silverware can really tie everything together in a photo. I mean, you wouldn’t eat that cereal in your picture without a spoon, right?
9. Seasonal decorations and props
I imagine most of you have a box or two (or ten) of holiday decorations. Maybe you have some Christmas ornaments, swags, and stockings tucked away somewhere, or some vintage Halloween decorations. Things that you put out to make your home festive for the season double as great festive pieces for seasonal food photos. Also, it makes a great excuse to get that stuff out of storage even earlier.
Sometimes we forget about the most obvious photo prop: ourselves! You may not see me very often in my photos (there’s a grand total of just two posts were I’m more than just a floating torso and pair of hands), but you may, on occasion see my hands. Using your hands in photos is a great way to show proportion and the process of making whatever it is you’re making. And it’s also a good way to make your blog a little more personal.
Do you have any favorite food photo props? Maybe something I totally missed out on covering here? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!