nosey curious kid, I’m a huge fan of anything behind the scenes. I love seeing what goes into making something come to life. Photography is no different. I love seeing what people’s behind the scenes look like, which is why I wanted to share a glimpse behind the camera with some of my favorite tools. As I’ve taught myself how to improve my food photography, one of the things I’ve invested in along the way is a supply of great props.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that my photos and props weren’t so hot when I just started. Hopefully with this post I’ll be able to save some of your valuable time so you won’t have quite so much trial and error. I’ve rounded up my absolute favorite props from my own collection.
These are the simple tools that help bring my favorite dishes to life. As you first start out I would suggest going for a “less is more” approach and slowly add as you see fit. There’s no sense in buying and shooting with a bunch of props you don’t need quite yet. Slowly I’ve built up enough props to sustain me for most shoots but like anything it takes time.
Props for Food Photography
1. wooden photo board
Photography wise, a wooden photo board has absolutely been one of my favorite investments. Having a beautiful backdrop to set your photos on makes such a huge difference.
- Make one: Ma gurl, Erin has a fantastic DIY for photo boards if you’re feeling crafty.
- Buy one: After using them extensively for work I fell in love with Erickson Woodworks’ photo boards. Yeah, it’s a bit of investment however I use it for almost every single photo so it’s more than paid for itself.
2. Unique Cutting Boards
I love having a variety of cutting boards to choose from in order to enhance or add some visual interest to a photo. Sometimes a simple board can add that much needed contrast between the wood and the dish. I’m a sucker for the wooden cross section but I’ve also been seeing a ton of beautiful smaller marble cutting boards that look great against a dark background.
- I’ve gotten some of my favorite cutting boards from HomeGoods and Target.
3. marble slab
Along with wood, marble is a gorgeous surface to shoot on and can make most anything look good. Each slab is so unique and can illuminate a dish in a really special way. I love using these for ingredients shots or breakfast recipes because there’s something able marble that gives it a “morning glow”
- You can find marble slabs at HomeGoods, Sur la Table or if you’re feeling crafty you can find pieces of marble at Home Depot.
4. Parchment Paper
I absolutely love using parchment paper, especially with baked goods photos. There’s something about the texture of crinkled parchment paper that I just can’t get enough of. It can be a great tool to add more dynamic lines in your photo’s composition.
- You can find parchment paper at most grocery stores and cooking stores.
5. white & neutral cloth napkins
White cloth napkins are another great tool to add visual interest to your composition. They can also help reflect light back onto the dish which can brighten up the image in a natural way. I love using them with smoothie bowls photos and they’ve made many an appearance in shots of baked goods.
- You can find white cloth napkins at places like Target and Homegoods.
8. a variety of bowls and plates
When I first started blogging I used the same plastic plates over and over again. Photos started looking stale. Overtime I’ve built up my bowl and plate collection by always keeping an eye out in places like Home Goods, Pier 1 Imports, the Christmas Tree Shops and Target. Look for simple pieces that will be versatile but don’t be afraid to try something different too if you have a use in mind.
I definitely suggest looking for wooden, clear glass and white bowls which are infinitely versatile and do a great job and highlighting the food, rather than distracting from it.
- Find great dishes at HomeGoods, Pier 1 Imports, the Christmas Tree Shops and Target.
9. a variety of utensils
Some of my favorite food prop purchases have been on fun spoons. I know it sounds silly but they make a huge difference – especially if you’re always sharing smoothie bowls 😉
- Some of my favorite utensils are from Sur la Table, Pier 1 Imports & Target
10. colorful cloth napkins
Colorful cloth napkins are fantastic way to brighten up a dish and add visual interest if your composition is relatively simple. If you can bring out the colors in a food with the accents in a napkin it can look amazing on camera.
- You can find cloth napkins at most homeware stores and aisles – look for simple patterns and warm colors, but don’t be afraid to branch out if you have a specific dish in mind.
11. fun paper straws
Despite their tendency to disintegrate in your mouth, paper straws still look adorable in drinks and smoothies. They can add that extra pop of color you’re looking for, but be careful because they can be easily over done too.
My favorite are the brown and white stripes or the birch pattern.
- You can find straws at Target, Michael’s, HomeGoods and most grocery or mass retailers.
Pin for later
- What are your favorite props for photography?
- Where do you go shopping for food props and dishes?