This list here is the most basic food photography & styling prop list you could ever read. I know. I’m sure you are all familiar with this one and use these things all the time. However, I personally have the tendency to FORGET SIMPLE things. For real. Sometimes I just overthink and make things too complicated. Still, it should not be like that all the time.
Yes, I do like to explore the garage and attic to get some vintage props. I’m still obsessed with antique or online stores to get my food photography props.
BUT sometimes I like to tell myself that I don’t need anything. I already have all the things I need and I just have to get out of my comfort zone and get creative. 😅 That’s why I try to challenge myself to work with the things I already have and remind myself this little list here.
20 PROPS YOU MIGHT ALREADY HAVE
#1 Other People’s & #2 Your Hands (as “Props”)
Yes, I know that it’s another “classic” Instagram CLICHÉ 😅 but including people to your images works. At least that’s what the market research tells me and my clients always ask. Viewers just love to see the storyline.
Actually, I need to confess. Sometimes I use nail polish JUST for food photography. I literally bought a blue(ish) nail polish only for food photography. Usually, I like my nails only on neutral colors such as nude or pink BUT food photography is an exception. I’m quite sure that the reason is that I used to do ballroom dancing for almost all my life and I got tired of fancy nails.
#3 PETS (as “Props”)
I’m sure you all have seen these kinds of images all around the Internet. However, you can always make your OWN version. About a year ago one of the agencies that I work with ordered images for dog cookies. Somehow it was a perfect timing since I was just “babysitting” my friends’ dogs. My favorite models!
That’s of the simplest thing in this list that I ALWAYS forget! I have to constantly remind myself that LESS IS MORE! However, in these cases, I try to look for backdrops with texture.
#5 Newspapers & #6 Books
That reminds me I’m looking for some kind of old rustic newspaper. Has anyone some idea where should I get that one?! I have been searching for it a little bit but it’s always hard to find something with relevant text … Probably eBay or other online stores are my best solution here. As always.
#7 Food INSIDE the dish (that you are going to shoot) + #8 Extra GARNISHES
MY EXAMPLE LIST:
- Black pepper
- Chili flakes
- Salt flakes
- Green Leaves (such as mint, thyme, rosemary, dill, basil)
- Avocado or other vegetable decorations (flowers)
- Fruit (such as lemon & lime)
- Powdered sugar
- Salt flakes
- Nut butter
- Cocoa nibs
- Cocoa powder
- Fruit & Berries (+ frozen)
- Edible flowers
- Mint or other herbs
#9 Parchment paper & #10 Strings
Again, I look for interesting texture & colors. Sometimes I like to make that parchment paper a little bit crumpled to tell a story.
#11 Jars & #12 Bottles
Yes, I know that in an ideal world the photography should be real. I try my best to do that & usually I never use fake food. However, sometimes I make an exception and use FAKE ICE. Real one just melts too quickly and I’m slow. If I don’ t have fake ice, then I’m quite sure I can find some real one in my freezer. For example, in this image, I used real ice because I wanted to shoot frozen flowers. It was quite hard to shoot it on a hot summer day!
#14 Pillows & #15 Blankets
Who doesn’t love breakfast in bed, right?! Okay, I actually prefer the dining table but it’s still always so interesting to look at those cozy images. The best part is that you don’t really have to use a real bed for that one! 😅
#16 Napkins & #17 Towels
I look for neutral colors (such as white, black, brown, grey or the same color as your food). I like to play around with the TEXTURE, shades, and HUE. Even when the napkin itself doesn’t have any hue or shades, then I try to use some kind of mysterious light.
Usually, I avoid colorful patterns (I like to concentrate on food). However, there are exceptions. It all depends on what is your purpose. For example, here my job was to shoot this blue tableware for the client. I tried to let that tableware shine and played around with similar food colors.
#18 Comfy Jumpers & Cardigans
That’s one of my favorite ways to tell the story (at least I try). To be honest. I need to confess. Again. Sometimes when I’m shopping for clothes, then I think if I can use that jumper for my food photography! That’s right. I have many white & grey jumpers that I like to switch all the time only for my food photography.😅
#19 Sneakers & #20 Legs
Yes, I know that it’s another “classic” Instagram cliché but it works. Sometimes. At least, that’s what some of the markets tells me. 😅
About two years ago I uploaded some of my images to different stocks (such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Depositphotos & Stock Food). This breakfast bowl image here is the most popular one and even when it’s about year old image, then it still makes me money even when I’m sleeping. Yes, I know that stock photography is not the best way to earn money nowadays and right now I don’t upload images frequently (I can earn more other ways. However, I still think that a few hundred dollars every month from the images that I took years ago is not bad).
Though, I believe that it’snot about the money. When I started to get more serious with my photography, then it was a great way to get some FEEDBACK. I learned A LOT and it kept me motivated to practice photography every day.
Btw, I created my FREE cheat sheets bundle (with my food photography tips). So, if you are interested to see how I analyze my own images with graphics, then click here (+ I also show you some of the images I took when I started).