Photography is not a cheap hobby. From camera equipment to backgrounds, and yes, even props. This guide will cover all the food photography props you need plus thrifty ways to build your collection!
Things to know before you start buying food photography props
Take a look at things to consider before buying a bunch of props.
Identify your style
My prop collection used to be everywhere. By everywhere I mean I had a ton of stuff that didn’t have any rhyme or reason. Once I started understanding my food photography style, I was able to really hone in on what food photography props I need.
Do you like the rustic farmhouse look?
Light and airy?
Dark and moody?
Take a moment to think about your specific style. This will allow you to make conscious decisions when buying props!
Identify your muse
Think about what you normally take pictures of.
Do you photograph a ton of baked goods?
What about salads or meals in bowls?
Appetizers or recipes using platters?
By identifying what you take a lot of pictures of, this will allow you to focus on props in that category. If you seldom photograph cakes, it would be silly to have 10 cake stands!
Don’t bulk up!
I only purchase props a la carte meaning not a massive pack with 8 plates! I usually will purchase 2 of each plate, bowl, utensils, etc.
Food Photography Props:
- Fabric Napkins – I like to use solid or simple patterns. Anything crazy takes away from the subject.
- Matte plates, bowls, utensils, etc. – Trying to find kitchenware with a matte finish can be rather difficult. Try to avoid plates with a ton of gloss as it reflects in photos.
- Parchment paper – Both bleached and natural parchment paper can be used as props in food photography.
- Pinch bowls – These are nifty to add interest to a photoshoot.
- Wood boards – I tend to use wood boards a lot because it adds dimension to the composition.
- Food! – Yes, use your food as a prop. A sliced lemon on the side makes a great prop for a recipe using lemon.
- Platters – I will use platters to serve appetizers, baked goods, etc. A nice oblong shape adds interest in photos.
- Serving utensils – Stay away from oversized serving utensils as they can look misproportioned with some serving dishes.
- Cooling rack – A cooling rack adds some interesting depth and layers to compositions.
- Measuring cups – I have a few sets of teaspoons and measuring cups. They are great for showing spices or ingredients in photos.
For this photo, I had lots of colorful ingredients that I wanted to photograph. I choose a neutral background and napkin to not take away from the ingredients. I also used a wooden board for some dimension. I used a combination of neutral pinch bowls and dishes to add interest.
I photographed these lemon poppyseed energy bites with the only props being the ingredients. The poppy seeds add texture and the lemons break up the composition in a fun way.
This fruit pizza is resting on top of parchment paper which is hard to tell at a glance but adds an additional layer to the photo. Only props used are a neutral napkin, again, to not distract from the colorful fruit pizza and a honey dipper since the recipe is drizzled with honey. Lastly, a gold cake server is holding a slice of the fruit pizza.
This photo uses both blueberries and lemons as props but the scones are sitting on a cooling rack as well. This adds more interest than just sitting on the table.
Where do photographers buy their props?
Like any collection, food photography props can be sourced in numerous places! Here’s a list of my personal favorite spots.
- Goodwill – Seriously. I find the most affordable and unique items that were once someone’s trash. Plus, it’s so cheap!
- Antique stores – Not as cheap as Goodwill, but some gems can be found. I purchased my ice cream scoop photographed above from a local thrift shop!
- Target – Who doesn’t love Target? They carry lots of cute kitchenware and it’s always changing! They carry awesome plates for food presentation too.
- Pier 1 – They have an awesome napkin selection and usually a pretty big clearance section too. I can find some napkins on sale for $2/piece!
- Ross/TJ Maxx/Marshalls – These stores can be hit or miss, but I’ve found some great things for cheap prices.
- Home Goods – Technically in the category above but I put it on its own as it’s just for home stuff aka bigger kitchen selection.
- World Market – One of my favorites for napkins, utensils, and plates.
- IKEA – I mean who doesn’t love IKEA?! They have so many simple pieces that are great for food photography like this pitcher.
- West Elm – Ah, getting into a high budget, but they have some great props. Most of their plates and utensils can be purchased a la carte too.
- Crate and Barrel – Another pricier place but they have some nice matte plates as well as other great kitchenware for food photography props.
- Etsy – There are so many pretty and unique pottery pieces on Etsy. A wide selection of matte bowls, plates, etc.
How to Make a Photography Light Box
Food Photography Backgrounds for All Budgets
Color Theory for Food Photography
My Food Photography Equipment
What’re some of your favorite food photography props? Let me know in the comments below and share a photo using #mindfulavocado. I’d love to hear from you! Want to see more? Let’s get social! CONNECT WITH ME on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to see what I’m currently cooking up!
6 thoughts on “Must Have Food Photography Props + Where To Shop!”
Great list: I didnt know until now those lil bowls for ingredients were called pinch bowls lol
Haha learn something new!
I need to check out Pier1 at some point! I almost never go in there, but have been meaning to check them out for food photography props. Love World Market for sure! And Facture Goods makes some of my favorite plates, etc, but they’re definitely on the pricey side.
Oh I’ll have to check out Facture Goods!
I’m new to all of this and wondering if you could recommend a specific cutting board that would work for most pics?
I take photos of restaurant food and takeout. Started for fun and trying to learn. My issue Is I’m so new I don’t really know what works. I did purchase a few nice backdrops but now just looking for some bowls, plates, cutting board that works for most pics. Is there one you really like?
I’ve sourced a lot of my cutting boards from thrift and antique stores, but places like Target and Home Goods have good finds too. For bowls and plates, I really like CB2 and Crate and Barrel as they have lots of options with a matte finish. This is helpful as the glare from glossy dishes can look bad in food photos. I hope this helps!