When you see a delicious, just absolutely mouth-watering photo of your favorite meal on social media, it’s hard not to stop and check it out. But it’s not just the food itself that makes the image so appealing, it’s also the props. The background, the plating, the silverware (if any) are all perfectly placed to deliver that *chef’s kiss* image that makes readers stop and say “I’ve got to try this.”
If you’re a food blogger, you most likely dabble in photography as well. After all, who else is taking photos of your delicious recipes and creative concoctions? When taking photos for your readers, using the right props can make all the difference. The right, unique props can make your foods look way more appealing while simultaneously adding more character, interest, and context to each photo. Even more, creating high-quality, visually appealing photos is a key tenant of good search engine optimization. So, trust us when we say, an investment in props is both an investment in your readers and your SEO.
However, if you’ve taken any time at all to look for food photography props online, you already know just how overwhelming it can be with the literal millions of options and products to choose from. Well food bloggers, stress no more, because we’re here to drop some serious truth on you: you really only need a handful of food photography props to capture high-quality photos each and every time. Yes – that’s all! (In addition to a good camera, of course!)
So, if you’re considering buying food photography props – this post is for you! Today, we’re sharing a roundup of trendy, timeless, and durable food photography props, as well as our tips for choosing the right props for your food blog!
8 Food Photography Props
Neutral dinnerware is THE essential food photography prop. Purchase at least a few sets to ensure you have enough plates, bowls, and mugs for every photoshoot. A tonal set in while, tan, or even black will house and frame your food. It shouldn’t be too distracting so it keeps your food front and center, but it should definitely have a high-quality look. We love this set, because it has a little bit of personality in shape without being distracting or overpowering. If your photography style would work better with a set that includes matte plates with a matte finish, we love this one!
Rustic backdrops like wood charcuterie boards and / or a wooden cutting board make a great backdrop for food photography and are very trendy right now! They add texture and pattern to really give your photos depth and they’re the perfect, flat backdrop for all your culinary creations. We specifically like these marble and wood boards, because they feature two different textures and colors. That small detail makes this a great prop that is versatile and elevated!
Using just any old flatware probably won’t give you the personality and aesthetic you’re looking for. For your photo props, opt for unusual and unique flatware with high design to give your images subtle depth and visual interest. Remember, though, we want it to be interesting, but not distracting!
A prop collection must include at least one photography backdrop. Layering is a huge part of attractive photo staging, and to layer you first need a great base! Choose something simple like wood grain, tile, marble, or this textured concrete. Those basic designs will give you the best bang for your buck, won’t reflect light that ruins your photos, and provide endless aesthetic opportunities.
Creative props add so much flavor to your food photos. Depending on your style, vintage tea towels, glassware, utensils, and other kitchenware could create the perfect rustic or eclectic vibe. It all depends on your brand aesthetic! You might get lucky and find some great pieces at nearby antique stores, or you can save time and grab some amazing pieces online. We chose these mid-century colored glasses (stand included) that would be oh-so cute for displaying desserts, dips, and even recipe ingredients.
Stoneware, utensils, and other serving items have hard, shiny, and reflective textures. To balance it all out and achieve maximum aesthetic appeal, you need something to soften it all up. Napkins, tablecloths, and tea towels are useful props to add to your collection for this reason. Layer them under plates, roll and fold them into cute designs, or give them a tossed, haphazard look. It’s all about composition!
Houseplants are ideal for the out-of-focus part of the image. Whether they’re in the foreground of a top-down shot, or the background of a side-view shot, vining house plants add great shape, texture, and color to any photo.
Depending on what you cook or bake, a cake stand may be another essential prop. They give height to your composition and provide a way to layer a side-shot. Try displaying baked goods and various food items both in the foreground and in the background using two different heights. It’ll look great and provide a unique POV for your readers. Plus, if you place each food item on parchment paper, you can easily move things around to figure out what looks best where.
Cookies are everybody’s favorite food, right? People are constantly searching for cookie recipes to try. To ensure your recipe appeals to the masses, superior photography is a must. And when it comes to photographing cookies and other baked goods, a cooling rack is a must-have photo prop. We like this slate blue cooling rack because it stands out just enough and is versatile enough to use with various backdrops.
Measuring cups are must-haves for cooking, so they make great, effortless props for food photography. These measuring cups come in stainless steel and copper so that you can easily incorporate them into your shoots. They look just as good empty as they do full of ingredients.
How To Use Props For Photography
Food blogger or not, using props for photography takes some practice, patience, and even some trial-and-error before you finally perfect your system. Even then, it’s never a bad idea to refresh your vibe from time to time. Whichever is the case for you, here’s a quick rundown of how to use props for photography:
Choose a style.
Before you get started, decide your aesthetic. Consider the vibe of your blog branding, and roll with that. If it’s modern and clean, go with angular dinnerware and black and white color schemes. If your vibe is more farmhouse chic, get on Etsy to find one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.
Try a monochromatic look.
If you’re intimidated by taking and staging food photos, go with a monochrome look. For a successful monochrome shot, your props just need to be the same color but vary in texture. An all-black or all-white photo is dynamic, elevated, and showcases your dish beautifully.
Fill the whole image.
Including props in all photos is a must. You want lots of visual interest in the foreground, background, and middle ground. Most of the time, your food will be in the middle ground, and the props in the other areas. To balance out the picture, include props in each part of the image.
Use ingredients included in the recipe.
There may come a dish where you feel like none of your props work. If running to the store or ordering a new prop isn’t an option, try using ingredients from the recipe. Vibrant limes, colorful spices, texturized sauces, and more make fantastic additions to your composition.
Use complimentary colors that keep the focus on the food.
Always keep the focus on the food. Though you can go all-neutral, to make the dishes really pop and look super appetizing, every so often try complementary colors in your design instead.
A green salad could be complemented by shades of red, whereas a pink salmon filet looks great with blue accents. Finding props for your collection in all colors of the rainbow will be the best plan if you want to use a lot of color!
Think about contrasting texture.
We’ve mentioned texture a few times. Adding textures to contrast the glass, ceramics, and metal will help balance your images. Plants, fabric, ingredients, liquids, and even your hands can deliver that texture variety you’re looking for.
Play with lighting.
A food photographer can manipulate lighting in a lot of ways to add drama and freshness to a photo. Indirect light is when the light source isn’t directly hitting your setting. Natural light is a wonderful source of indirect light that can create a well lit scene without being too bright or casting too many shadows.
You could also use harsh direct light that shapes dark shadows to create glare on the scene. This creates a dynamic and high-end look. Finally, side light shines from any and all angles of the scene. You have a lot of control this way to highlight exactly what you want.
Use a wide-open aperture to make the image dreamy.
A professional photo has dreamy depth using focus. A wide-open aperture allows you to put the middle ground and main dish in focus, while putting the background and foreground out of focus. This creates a really professional-looking image.
Don’t overdo it.
As a rule, keep it simple. Edit your composition and use lightning techniques you’re comfortable with. When you do this, you’ll craft images that showcase your brand and recipe perfectly!
Anyone can create high-quality recipe images with a few basic staging techniques and a calculated collection of food photo props!
The photos on your food blog should do your amazing recipes justice. To put it simply, your images should look good enough to eat! You can do this yourself with a backdrop, some props, and a handful of photography techniques. So, if you’re just starting your food blog, make sure to add photo props to your to-buy list! (If you want to know what else you might need, check out this post.)
If you want more tips on how to make your blog more engaging and better optimized for search engines or social media, check out the InfluencerSEO blog. We’ve got tons of articles to help you make your blog a huge success! And, we even offer SEO and copywriting services to give you the support you need to make it big. We’ll take care of the blog while you focus on making great food!