When styling for photoshoots, there are many elements to consider. These include the products, lighting, backdrops, and of course, the photography props.
If you’re starting out in product photography, you may wonder what props you actually may need. It’s very easy to hit the shops and buy cute little homewares that you “may” use one day for a shoot.
Or, you can learn from my mistakes!
Most of the products I shoot are from a few categories. These include food, beverages, skincare and beauty, health and wellbeing, and jewellery and accessories.
In this post, I’ll share my five must-have product photography props for food and beverage shots.
Five Must-Have Product Photography Props
Naturally, the food (or beverage) you are shooting will be the hero of the shot but the background you choose will make a big difference to the overall visual.
These days there are so many options for backgrounds.
If you shoot from home, you have access to so many surfaces that can be used as a backdrop. These include:
- Dining table
- Kitchen bench
- Kitchen tiles
- Sideboards / buffets
- Outdoor table or bench
If you are in a smaller space, portable backgrounds like painted MDF boards and vinyl backdrops will come in handy.
Even a gorgeous, weathered chopping board will also work well as a backdrop.
For more photography backdrop ideas, click here.
2. Neutral coloured plates & bowls
Before you go out and shop, go and check what you have in your own kitchen. Look for any matte coloured plates in neutral colours. Try and avoid shiny plates as they will reflect light and be harder to shoot.
Since the food is the hero, neutral plates and bowls are best so that they don’t compete with the food.
In many cases, a side plate is large enough for shooting different types of food. It’s always best to fill the plate with food rather than have a big empty plate with a small amount of food on it.
Look for bowls in different sizes: pinch bowls are great to support the main dish or product, small bowls are great for dessert products, medium-size bowls are ideal for smoothie bowls etc.
This is one of my favourite props to buy!
In the beginning, you will probably focus on water glasses and stemmed glasses. In most cases, I find that smaller glasses are better. If they are too tall they can look disproportionate to the rest of the image.
If you like shooting high-contrast images then look for glassware and crystal with interesting patterns and designs. The shadows can be a great feature to make the image pop.
If you can, purchase the glassware individually. It’s very rare that you will need to use a full set of any glassware. Typically, I buy things in pairs or in threes – as you know, the rule of odds is a winner in any composition.
4. Cutlery & serving items
Again, you don’t need to go and buy massive cutlery sets to use as props. Raid your drawers to see what you have already. Avoid anything too shiny. You want to avoid seeing your reflection in the cutlery.
Visit op shops and antique stores to get some old tarnished cutlery that adds character to your shot.
Ceramic or wooden cutlery can also create a point of difference.
Try not to use the same cutlery as everyone else is using. Who wants to be boring? It’s the little elements that separate you from every other photographer or stylist.
Remember that props should complement the food. There’s no point in adding a vintage cake server when shooting a modern style cake.
Linens are very useful when it comes to food and beverage photography. They can help add a pop of colour, add texture, add layers, or complement the colours of the item being photographed.
When selecting linen for your props cupboard, look at keeping the colours complementary to the majority of products you may shoot. Tablecloths and napkins should not distract from your image.
I prefer linen that is a little softer rather than stiff. That way it’s easier to style in the shot. I use a mixture of tea towels and actually linen napkins.
In Part 2, I will share what props I use for beauty and skincare photography. Stay tuned!
Over to you
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to product photography props? Let me know in the comments below.
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