If you want to improve your food photography fast what do you need?
You need to go prop hunting for food photography props!
Don’t be talked into buying a flashier camera, a crazy expensive lens – yes they can help but most DSLRs (and even mobile phone cameras) are pretty amazing these days. So for now…stick with the camera you have, find yourself a decent window with good natural light and go find yourself some cool props.
I have been a kitchen gadget and obsessive pretty plate collector for a verrry long time and as a result I have a fabulous stash to choose from when taking food photographs. But that never stops me on my constant quest for the next amazing set of spoons, perfect backdrop or vintage cake tin.
The best news is that collecting food photography props is a pretty cheap hobby (no, no, it isn’t an addiction dear husband, it really isn’t). Remember that it is rare to need to take a food shot with a table set for a family of five. You need a few good plates at the most and often mix-matched plates look best. Team those mix matched plates with one or two super stylish spoons or a vintage napkin and boom – your photos just went from average to awesome.
Let’s get ready to rummage
Charity or thrift shops
Charity shops can be an absolute goldmine of kitchen treasure. Cutlery sells for pennies especially in odd sets or small quantities. Charity shops are also a treasure trove for rummaging through vintage bakeware, cute tablecloths and tea towels and little wicker baskets etc. Whilst I often find it sad that you can find the entire contents of a little old lady’s kitchen or sewing chest, I love to be able to give it a new home. I like to think that little Granny would be quite tickled that her old spoons are gracing the insta feed of an up and coming food brand! The photo below was taken on an ancient baking tray that had been chucked aside at the charity shop for being too battered…
Boot Fairs and Vintage Markets
To get the best finds at a boot fair you need to be an early riser (not difficult in a house with three kids who need Ninja Warrior amounts of sleep i.e. hardly any!). The best boots are often those with boxes strewn along the ground with a quickly scribbled ‘everything 50p’ sign. These signs make me deliriously happy and are invariably filled with 95% rubbish and 5% treasure. Boot fairs are especially good for enamel bowls and plates, old vintage cameras, odd collections of cutlery and kitchenalia. Vintage markets tend to offer a slightly more high-brow collection of wares but again, seek and ye shall find. I snapped up my favourite vintage cake tins and vintage icing sets for well under £5 at a local vintage market!
Ebay and gumtree
The trick with ebay and gumtree is to search for ‘joblots’ and ‘bulk’. Most people don’t want to sift through 100 bits of random cutlery for, say, £8 just to find half a dozen they like but trust me it’s worth it. My favourite ‘berry spoon’ came from a fiver joblot and it is worth around £50! It is also worth trying gumtree and preloved.co.uk for ‘house clearances’. Yes you might have to search through a whole heap of junk to find that one thing but as they say it is ‘finders keepers’ and it could be you!
Sheds, skips and people moving house!
These are the best places for cool backdrops my friends. Old doors, bits of sheet metal, pieces of salvaged worktop, old table tops. Pretty much anything can be turned into a ‘Guardian Weekend’ style food shoot backdrop once cleaned up and cleverly dressed. This photo was taken on an absolutely battered workshop door that my husband mistakenly stashed in the skip – not so fast sonny-Jim!
If you can’t face cleaning, storing and reusing old surfaces or are short on storage space then by far the best backdrops that come rolled up in a tube come from Capture By Lucy! Fab quality, fast shipping and take all a manner of spillages without looking messed up.
TK Maxx and Home Bargains
If you can’t face rummaging (if that’s the case I’m really not sure we can be friends haha!) then you need to head on down to TK Maxx or Home Bargains. TK Maxx is the best – hands down – for classy linens, stylish bakeware and crockery and stunning table cloths. Alternatively mosey on down to Home Bargains if quirky items such as wire baskets, themed partyware, cute straws and bottles or paper napkins in a thousand colours are on your shopping list! I loved these flamingo straws from Home Bargains!
So these are my top tips – let me know how you get on! Where do you go for props – sharing is caring remember!