As a food photographer, I rely on my props a fair amount to help tell a story through my images. In todays post, I want to take you through my prop collection, show you how I currently store my props, and share the ones I reach for the most and why.
When I first started shooting food, I thought I needed every type of plate in every size and colour. I wanted every linen in every pattern and texture...and frankly thats just not necessary! Over the past year, I've managed to narrow down my props to a select group that I can always reach for and create beautiful images with because of their versatility and today I want to share them with you.
Let's start with how I store my props. I don't have a big fancy studio that I shoot in with a whole area for my props to be organized. I shoot in my living room, and most of my props live up in my bedroom so they don't mistakenly get used in our kitchen. I used to store all my props in one giant bin in my closet, but that would get incredibly annoying when it came time to pull for a shoot and I had to rummage through it just to find the one plate I was looking for.
I re-organized my space and moved all my props to the storage drawers I have under my bed:
This drawer holds all of my jars, bowls, trays, linens and cutlery. I have it somewhat organized by category as you can see all the trays and cooling racks are together. The surfaces right below that, and then lots of my pinch bowls, other bowls and jars along the top right of the drawer. I currently keep all my cutlery in a small shoebox as you can see in the top left of the image. It's not the best way to store them because I can never find what I'm looking for but I'll be changing that up soon enough.
The drawer next to that one houses all my plates, mugs, bowls and seasonal items that get used less like the silver christmas trees, and the cookie cutters in the middle of the drawer. This drawer gets used a little less than the other one, and I've done so on purpose just to make it easier for me to pull items as I need them.
Alrighty, now that you've seen my makeshift storage situation, lets go through the pieces I reach for the most and why I tend to gravitate towards them to visually tell a story.
These are my main guys, I count on them to make their way into every photo and help create the scene. The two cookie jars are an essential to any cookie, brownie or blondie post that I shoot, they just help to create a homey feel and take up just enough space in my scene that they could be the only other prop in the image and would still be able to tell the story. The jars and pot are good supporters in the hero category as they are varying heights, which I love to include in my images to help lead the eye around the scene. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I like to use a monochromatic prop selection so all my props are generally cream, white or a neutral of some sort.
These guys help to really fill some bigger gaps in an image, they are also a good point for me to start layering within my image. For example, the plates and surfaces are always a good place for me to layer, either by stacking plates, or putting down a linen, followed by a surface, with some parchment paper on top, and my subject to finish it off. The trays, and cooling racks are help to support where my main subject will go, so I usually pick a spot in my image to ensure that the prop and my subject will sit in harmony together and with the rest of the props in the scene.
Finally, some of the pieces from the image above and below just help to finish up a scene, they are small additions that I love including in my setups because they also create some visual interest without taking over the entire image. Some of my favourites, and most used from the image above are the small mango wood plate, the marble pinchbowl with a rose gold base, as well as the small white dish, which is actually a jewelry holder from H&M home. These three pieces are just small enough that I can add them to a scene with some of my ingredients and they will complete the image without being too much of a distraction.
Below, I have some little coffee mugs that I have started to include in my images, and I absolutely love using them because they are such a nice neutral pop of colour and they just add the homey feel to my images which I love. I also include the wooden coasters in my images to help with layering my images, I sometimes place my subject directly on the coaster. Other times I use these are a way to create height with some of my supporting props, while also adding texture to the scene, and again, a small hint of neutral colour.
To end off this post I wanted to share some of my favourite places to shop for props!
Honestly, you've heard it before, and you'll hear it now. The thrift store is your friend for food photography props!!! I have found so many of my staple props in the thrift store, big or small. For example, the mini tart pans in the image above - Value Village. The large cookie jar with gold detail, also Value Village, the butter pot and any decorative jar you see in any of my photos are from the thrift store. This is also the best place to find flatware thats been dulled out for your images. I also find some pretty nifty tools like ice cream scoops, cake serving spoons, measuring cups and more here!
This is my absolute favourite place to get props outside of thrift stores, they have some really unique pieces as well as a variety of colour schemes depending on what you're going for.
A lot of the pieces featured in this post came from H&M home, including the two toned pour jar, the mango wood plate, the small jewelry plate, the coffee mugs and saucers, as well as the two bowls in the bottom left of the image above!
A newfound favourite for me, I recently started shopping here and I actually love getting my dish ware, and linens from here. The linens are such good quality and large enough to support a big scene, not to mention they have so many patterns and colours! They have an amazing selection of dishes - small dishes, which is exactly what I use for my food photography. I usually choose the pickup in store option and they have my items ready for me in a few hours! This is just so I don't go in store and spend all my money on everything else in there.
Unfortunately, not somewhere you can shop online, but I love a good search sesh at these spots, I find some cute gems when I browse in the kitchen and bath (yes bath) sections of these stores! Not pictured in this post but are featured on my Instagram feed, a lot of my marble surfaces and large bowls are from here!
That's about all I have on props, I hope this was helpful to any of you that are starting out with food photography, or even product and lifestyle photography as props are essential for those areas as well.