How to select props based on your style

How to choose the right props for your style

Have you ever come across those guides telling you about the "top x props you must have" 
When I was starting out I would blindly collect these same props, without even considering if I was really going to use them. I knew my style (or at least the sttyle I was aiming for), so why didn't I know my props?

In this post I am going to actually break down the main prop types based on photography style and functionality.  This post will focus more on different props based on food photography styles, rather than on the cost, the where or how much.

Oh and a lil note. I don't talk about glassware here because that is a whole other ballgame that I will hopefuly be focusing on in a later post.

So, shall we?..

Ceramic Staples

How to choose props for food photography

What I have

Bowls, plates, serving saucers. Black and off-white speckled.

Why I have them

Well, if you are ever going to shoot any savoury dish like pasta, soup, bruschetta, tartines or more, you'll most likely be doing so using some form of a ceramic vessel. Of course this is also true if you plan on focusing more on baked goods and want to show serving slices of cake, tarts and pies too.

How & when to use them

This one is pretty simple. For a classic light 'n' bright photo, you'll wanna go with the lighter colours, ideally with some texture such as speckled ceramics. Chooing lighter ceramics is not just for the obvious reason of wanting to convey a certain airy feeling, but to also be sure that it doesn't clash with  backdrop, nor  linens, which will also most likely be in the lighter colour range (think light grey, cream, light beige etc).

For dark and moody images (my personal preference), or dishes with a bold colour (like reds or herb greens), the black plates and bowls will actually provide a fantastic contrast and framing. 

Dark and moody food photography props


What I have

Whisk, citrus juicer, pestle&mortar, chopsticks, honey roller

Why I have them

Although aged and pantina cutlery are a very popular choice of props, I often find myself way more drawn to wood props. For me, they definitely give off a stronger homemade, back-to-basics artisanal feeling.

How & when to use them

I use the wood props when doing shoots where I want, surprise surprise, a more rustic homemade feel. If I want to reflect this in an image, I'll try to add wood element in the background (or foreground) as a subtle cue. In these photos, even the backdroo will be wood too. 


What I have

2 cheeseboards: 1 slate, 1 wood log. 

Why I have them

As a self-confessed cheese lover living in Paris, going without at least a few cheeseboards was out of the question! I knew from early on that if I wanted to incorporate cheeseboards into my portfolio of work, I was going to need the right foundation to lay it on.

How and when to use them 

Choosing your props wisely

For the wood log cheeseboard, I use this when I am trying to go for a more fresh, springtime or summer apero feel (this probably comes back to the idea of wood being associated with nature and the outdoors). This was the one I chose for example when I put together my birthday cheeseboard in August. The backdrop was Paris and I felt that this board complimented the overall outdoorsy feel of the image.

For the black slate board, this is used when going for a more refined, high-key, dinner party-esque look, for example in the image below.

What I DON'T have

A cooling rack
Why? I never make cookies.

A pie dish
Why? As I am not a big fan of the larger silver metallics (just not my style). Also, like, cookies, I seldom make pies. I am happy to use a black ceramic cake pan where necessary.

Ceramic juicer
Why? Since I almost never do light 'n' bright photography, this would feel rather out of place for me. This is also the reason why I chose to get a juicer in wood instead.

Antique cutlery
Why? This one actually I don't even know myself. Actually, I do. As beautiful as they are, everytime I wanted to buy some from the parisian markets, I could never envision the exact type of shoot in which I would use them. Which brings me to my final thoughts...


The point of this post is that you should NOT buy props simply because an article or blogger told you that X,Y or Z item is an ESSENTIAL for your prop cabinet. How can they possibly know that? 

What determines long term utility is in fact based on what type of photography style you choose, and whether you'll be focusing on sweet or savoury (or both). 

Pinterest pin on curating a food photography prop collection

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