What are food photography props? Props are objects that photographers use to support the main subject. It can be anything at all. For food photography, props can be plates, bowls, utensils, character objects, textured papers, etc. Just make sure you do not use anything shiny.
Food photography makes up a considerable percentage of the professional photography industry. With the constant growth of the food industry, the need for food photography is growing too. Unlike other niches, food photography requires a lot of props to make drooling photographs.
As an amateur food photographer, you must know how to present your food well. Because we consume them with our eyes first, it’s imperative to know about essential food photography props.
Why are props used in food photography?
The main purpose of props for any photography is to make the subject look bold and attractive. It’s the same for food photography too. Photographers around the world use different props to make food photos look eye-catching.
Another reason food photographers use props is to add necessary context to the photographs. Sometimes we might not know how the food might taste by looking at a photo. But the props used in it can tell how it will taste.
Foods are generally small subjects and do not take a lot of frames. So, food photographers use props to make the entire picture frame look attractive and delicious. Plus, they build the scenography for a photo you are capturing.
But you have to make sure you use the right props. Unnecessary props might ruin the whole picture. Your photographs might not tell the story it was supposed to tell. So, pick up your props within the proper context.
Essential Food Photography Props
Photographers usually select food photography props based on the food and its context. Generally, they try to present food with props they like. But there are some essential props all photographers use. I’m listing some of those props here.
Beautiful Prop Clothes
Styling with prop clothes is probably the most common way of food photography for many photographers. A nicely folded linen or a textured napkin can add much-needed details to your composition.
It will give viewers a pleasant journey around the whole picture by adding lines and frames.
Wood has some unique characteristics in it. It can add colors and contrast to any picture. Wooden items like bowls, plates, cutlery, etc., are excellent props for food photography. This natural element can perfectly create a rustic environment and make any food look attractive when photographed.
Ingredients are another essential prop for product photography. It is simple but elegant and tells a story about your subject. Generally, photographers use those ingredients as props that have been used to prepare the food.
So, by looking at the picture, anyone can have an idea about its taste. Plus, various ingredients make photos look pretty attractive and colorful.
While choosing props for food photography, you must not use any shiny objects. Otherwise, it might create a mess in your photographs. That’s why matte items are excellent for food photography props.
You can use matte plates, bowls, and trays to add some accent to your food pictures. Most importantly, it will always highlight your main subject and help viewers to keep their focus on it.
Transparents glass items can complement your food products in many ways. You can use a mix of glass bottles, jars, salad dressings, and other glass materials in the background for a better presentation.
Using a glass bottle or a jar in the background adds layers to your picture effects.
Ceramic Bowls with Accents
You will find many food photographs containing accented ceramic bowls. Either it holds the food or simply sits in the background- both ways, they look pretty amazing. The colors in it make a picture more vivid and alive.
Food Photography Props on A Budget
Sometimes we have to work under a tight budget. But that doesn’t mean we have to make compromises on the quality. There are some excellent yet cheaper props available for food photography. Let’s explore them.
The most available and cheaper food photography prop is plants. You can collect them from your garden or anywhere, and they’re entirely free of cost.
You can use flowers, flower plants, vegetables, and other plants in the background.
They will surely add some extra colors to your frame. Plus, you can create a fresh vibe in the picture.
Sometimes you do not need any extra props in your photographs. The surface of your marble countertop or your wooden dining table can add so much more to your food photographs.
Marble has a white accent and will highlight any food you keep on it. The same goes for wooden background.
Understated White Dinnerware
Cheap white dinnerware is another perfect budget-friendly prop for product photography. With its white color, you can present your foods in the purest form to the viewers.
It can be a white plate, or medium-sized bowl, or a tray. Because of the uniquely plain surface, your main subject will get all the necessary focus.
DIY Food Photography Props
Guess what? You don’t always have to purchase fancy props for taking food photographs. You can make them yourself. Use any material and item you have at home to make DIY props. Here are some excellent ideas:
Customized linen or table runners can be an excellent option for food photography props. You can easily make them at home.
Use old clothes, cut them, and sew them to make a table runner or linen. You can use multiple color fabrics to make it more attractive and colorful.
You can paint a backdrop with your own design. All you will need is acrylic colors and a paper of fabric. Make some color design on it.
A painted backdrop has many colors and textures in it. You will get a rustic vibe when you capture food photographs on it.
Old Objects with Beautiful Texture
You can use an old object to make it a food photography prop. It might be an old plate that you do not use anymore, an old mug, a basket, etc. Customize those as you like.
Old objects with fine texture will create a vintage vibe in your photograph. You can add some old-school charm to your photographs.
Dark Food Photography Props
Dark food photography is a trend now. In dark photos, light is reduced to a minimum fill light level while keeping the main focus on the subject. It bounces back any bright or white lights and makes excellent photographs.
You will need a dark background to consume any bright color. Dark props will complement your photographs. Many dark props are available for d food photography.
It can be a dark backdrop, flat black plates, bowls, trays, dark cutlery, dark wooden background, etc. It’s wise to use matte surfaced dark props so that light cannot reflect on foods.
Flat Lay Food Photography Props
Flat lay is an excellent method for capturing food photos. This way, you can take photos from the upper side of the food. So, the surface will be the background for the photographs. It will be wise not to use tall jars, glasses, or bottles as props.
You can use a marble countertop as the background of your food photos. A textured marble table is an excellent prop. Besides, you can use cutlery, plates, bowls, etc., props for flat lay food photographs.
Vintage Food Photography Props
Vintage props will add some classic and vintage vibe to your food photographs. You can find many vintage prop ideas around you. For example, you can use vintage brass and other metal-made old-fashioned cutlery as props.
Besides, old trays, baskets, plates, vintage-looking objects, vintage backdrops, etc., can be excellent for vintage food photography.
Fake Food Props for Photography
Interestingly, there are many fake food photography props available. Many photographers use them instead of real food. From fried chicken to doughnuts, cookies to pastries, and various other food, almost every kind of fake food prop are available for photography.
They might be fake, but they look exactly like real food. That is why most viewers cannot differentiate between the fake and the real ones when photographed.
Props are an essential element of food photography. They add color, accent, and layers to a picture. So, you must choose ones that make your food photography more attractive and mouth-watering.
Justin Parker is a professional photographer and has been in the industry since 2007. He attended the University of Georgia. Justin combines his passion for photography and his interest in writing to give life to this blog which talks about photography in order to help and inspire young photographers.