Today we’re talking food photography props. Where to find them, what to look out for, and most importantly, how to get them on the cheap. Because if there’s one thing I’m CEO of, its never paying full price for anything.
So get comfy, grab yourself an iced latte, and let’s get started!
Five places to find cheap food photography props:
1. Charity shops.
Charity shops (aka thrift stores) are a goldmine for cheap food photography props!
The great thing about charity shops is that you can find unique and vintage props for a reasonable price. And even better, the money you do pay for them goes to a good cause!
I’ve seen some really pretty plates and glasses in charity shops before – I even saw a box of vintage silverware in one charity shop. (An old man actually came up to me, a 19-year old who looks about 12, and asked me why I was looking at vintage silverware. Lmao)
One thing to consider when looking for props for food photography in charity shops is that they won’t have more stock of a specific item. Also if you like what you see, buy it, as it won’t be there the next time you come!
2. Homeware shops.
This is probably where I get the majority of my props from. Homeware shops are especially good for ‘basic’ props like neutral-looking plates and bowls.
Here are some of my favourite shops to buy props for food photography in the UK:
It’s a good idea to look out for sales and discount codes when shopping in homeware shops. You can also sign up to the mailing list of your favourite homeware shop to be the first to find out about sales!
I also heard Alison Hammond say that sometimes you can get up to 50% off just for using ‘STAFF’ as a discount code, so that’s definitely worth a try!
3. Online retailers.
Have you ever seen a food photography prop all over your Instagram feed and you’re just like “I HAVE to buy this”? Chances are you’ll find it on eBay!
I had my eye on some vintage forks and managed to buy 6 for £3 on eBAY. THREE POUNDS. Who said props for food photography had to be expensive?
You’ll see these forks in a lot of my food photos, from shots of my hidden vegetable pasta sauce to these fluffy carrot cake pancakes!
Etsy is also a good place for vintage/second hand items, though it can be a little pricey. You can also check out Amazon, though I find some items on Amazon can look tacky.
4. Your house.
You’d be surprised at how many of my food photography props are those I already had in the house and didn’t even know about.
One great example is a handmade tea set which my Dad got from Korea [pictured above]. The rustic-style mini plates are perfect for photographing cupcakes on! You can also see the handmade mugs and spoons in action in my virtual pantry.
Ask your parents or grandparents if you can raid their kitchen/attic for some props. You may find some items so old that they are back in style!
5. your kitchen.
I love re-purposing kitchen items as food photography props. Whether its using a sheet pan to serve bruschetta or adding a layer of greaseproof paper beneath some fries, you’d be surprised at how many household items feature in my photos.
You can also use the food itself as a prop! Adding some ingredients around the main dish is a great way to fill some negative space and also helps to tell a story.
Things to keep in mind when buying food photography props:
Consider your budget.
When I first started out with food photography, I was hesitant to spend a lot of money on props. Now I’m at the point where I’m making money from taking food photos, I can justify spending £9.50 on a bowl. But it’s totally okay if you can’t work this into your budget just yet.
Also keep in mind that having 5-6 high quality and unique props can add a lot more class to your photos than having 30 cheap and tacky ones.
Consider your style.
Are you into the cosy and vintage look, or prefer fresh clean lines? Before you purchase some new props for food photography, consider whether they will fit your style.
Also think about what your subject is. If you photograph a lot of baked goods, you may want to purchase things like cake stands or small plates for individual goods. Whereas if you are more into shooting savoury food, platters and serving dishes may be more useful.
Good things take time.
Like all good things, it takes a look time to curate your food photography prop collection. I am forever on the lookout for new and unique pieces, particularly at times when I am feeling uninspired.
Over time you will develop a good eye for finding props that you like and that fit your personal style. You may regret a few prop purchases eventually, but removing is just as important as adding when it comes to curating a prop collection which makes you happy.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of the photography series! Stay tuned for part four next week, where I’m taking you step-by-step through my Lightroom editing process.
Did you read last week’s post? I explained the basics of using a DSLR camera in simple terms. It’s not to be missed! You can also view the rest of the photography series for even more tips and tricks.
Please take a look at my photography portfolio if you are interested in working with me. You can also come say hello on Instagram!
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