Sourcing Food Photography Props on a Budget

It’s no secret that food photography is an art form in itself, and for some foods the props can make the difference between a good shot and a great one. But what does it take to find those props on budget? We sat down with New York-based photographer Hannah Knowles who shared her secrets.

The “where to buy food photography props” is a question that many photographers are asking. The answer is simple: you can find food photography props on Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy.

One of the things I struggled with when I first began blogging was finding the perfect props. They were either too pricey, didn’t match my other props, or I thought I needed them but didn’t, leaving them unused for months.

So, in order to assist other bloggers and food photographers, I put together this helpful guide on where I buy my low-cost food photography props. Because putting up a coherent, well-rounded prop collection doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. I’ve sprinkled some recommendations throughout the piece that should help you make the proper decisions when it comes to picking props, in addition to providing my preferred locations for getting budget-friendly props. Good luck with your props! 

1. Your best buddy is an antique shop.

Antique shops have provided me with some of my favorite props. Finding the appropriate antique shop is the key. The prices at high-volume antique shops are astronomically inflated. I’ve discovered that the finest bargains may be found in out-of-the-way antique shops. This sifter was $8 in northern Michigan, this antique scale was $30 outside of Boston, and this pie pan was $5 from a little shop in Western Massachusetts.

Antique props provide an aged touch to food photography, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular. Clean, mass-produced ceramics don’t have the same ring to them as a scuffed enamel plate with years of wear visible on its surface.

Metal-based vintage props are my favorites. I like the rusted, weathered aspect they give my images. Instead of simply dishes and bowls, check for backdrop props the next time you’re in an antique shop. Cookie sheets, scales, and pie pans are all useful and well worth the investment.

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2. Etsy is the same way.

Etsy is a terrific location to locate older, shabby-chic props, similar to antique shops. An ice cream scoop ($9), this antique dish ($5), and a variety of vintage cutlery are among my favorite Etsy finds. Independent prop merchants like Propped, on the other hand, have incredible, one-of-a-kind items selected by experts for professionals. I just purchased the pink glass dishes seen below from Propped and am excited to use them in a spring cake setting.

For individuals who reside in places where antique shops are scarce, Etsy is a terrific option. It’s also fantastic to be able to connect with vendors one-on-one. If you like a business, you can usually contact the owner and ask if they have any more products that they haven’t placed up for sale yet. Score!

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3. The greatest linens and mugs may be found at Crate & Barrel.

Crate & Barrel accounts for 70% of my linens. They’re inexpensive ($5-$10) and available in a number of subdued neutral hues that look great in food photography. Linens are an inexpensive method to add texture to food shots without detracting from the topic (I used the Dark Natural Linen for these muffins, the Grey Striped Linen for these pancakes, and the Indigo Linen in this cake post). Throw a linen in there if you’re not sure.

In addition, Crate & Barrel’s wedding area contains beautiful plates, bowls, and mugs that may be purchased separately by asking a sales assistant. Welcome Dinnerware ($5-13 per piece) and Wilder Dinnerware ($8-13 per piece) are my two favorite sets. I usually buy two or three of each item to obtain a range of looks at a fraction of the price.

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4. Look for Cake Stands and Glassware at World Market.

When it comes to World Market glassware, I’ve found that it’s among the best-looking for the price. For stuff like pots de crème, these glass jars ($3.99 apiece) are ideal. I also used milk jugs as a backdrop in almost everything (similar here).

World Market is also a great spot to find one-of-a-kind cake stalls. All four of the items seen below were acquired from World Market, despite the fact that they were not accessible online when I looked for them. Keep size in consideration while shopping for cake stands. Larger cake stands irritate me since they seem large and uncomfortable in photographs. As a result, I limit myself to cake stands with a diameter of no more than 9 inches. And, to make my cake stand out, I usually always choose a neutral hue.

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5. It’s a goldmine at Target.

I’ve been going to Target on a regular basis since they released the Threshold Collection. The whole set is somewhat rustic but nonetheless simple, making it ideal for use as props in food photography. These bowls ($4.99 each) were recently used to photograph Ambitious Kitchen’s Golden Turmeric Soup. I haven’t had the opportunity to utilize these serving bowls ($32.99 for a set of 2) yet, but I am in love with them.

Ceramic bowls/plates, cutlery, and bigger goods like cake stands and salad bowls are all things to search for at Target. Target also sells lovely condiment and dip dishes. This marble one ($8.99) and this wooden one ($5.99) are also favorites of mine (as shown in my DIY Facemask article).

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6. There’s a lot of wonderful things on Amazon.

Did you know Amazon sells some fantastic food photography props? This glass caddy (identical here for $25) is one of my favorites to photograph. And I just photographed these enchiladas in this enamel roasting pan ($29) for Skinny Taste.

Finding props you like that are created by several firms and then looking for them on Amazon is the secret. That glass caddy, for example, was $40 at a Boston nick nack boutique but just $25 on Amazon. Similar enamelware may be found at double the price at shops like Falcon, but if you just use it once in a while, Amazon is the way to go. If you’re prepared to spend some research, Amazon is a great place to get inexpensive props.

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7. Put everything on an IKEA shelf.

I have two IKEA metal shelves that are ideal for prop storage. Making a home for your props is essential, since having enough space to spread everything out helps you imagine your shots. It also serves as a fantastic statement piece.

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More photographic advice is available at: 

How to Curate the Perfect Food Instagram Feed in 6 Easy Steps

8 Ways to Improve Your Restaurant Photography Immediately 

Free Food Photography Photoshop Actions

101 in photography

5 Lightroom Presets for Food Photography

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find props for food photography?

A: Good luck, you’re probably better off asking for a recipe.

What props do you need for food photography?

A: You need a professional camera, tripod and lighting kit. Props you may also want to consider are food styling tools like knives, spoons or whisks for cutting and shaping ingredients.

What color plate is best for food photography?

A: The color plate that is best for food photography would be the cyan colored one.

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