Do you always struggle with propping your food photos? Can't figure out what to put in the shot? Forget to prop & don't have time to set up a great tabletop?
That used to be me! I would create a gorgeous dish, then throw it on a table, frantically remembering that I needed some props, hurrying and grabbing random things, tossing them here and there. Then snap the photo. And what I'd be left with was a lot of photos that didn't quite make sense.
To become a PRO food photographer, you have to learn how to properly prop. Luckily, it's not that hard. THERE IS A TRICK. IT CAN BE LEARNED. See below for my TOP 5 TIPS for PROPPING GREAT FOOD SHOTS.
5 is THE magic number. Because when it comes to prepping props for a lifestyle shoot, if you make sure you have at least FIVE props on hand, you've got the makings of a mad, rad photo, flatlay or video shot. So, let's break it down a bit. You can just grab 5 things, willy-nilly, or...
1. Grab a color wheel. Pick a main color.
That's it. Start here, and you will see massive and immediate improvement. Sometimes the best thing you're not already doing is pre-conceiving your shots. So taking time to see your photos as a creation that needs to be thoughtfully created using the elements of design will help you unlock more stunning imagery.
2. Select 2-3 COORDINATING or related colors.
That's going to be hues next to your main color. Or across from it. There’s no right answer here, but let the color wheel guide you.
3. Make sure the props are REALISTIC & RELATED.
If I see another random pair of floral scissors tucked by a nicely iced cupcake, without a flower or skein of string in sight, I will petition to lock all floral scissors up until the end of time. Pick props that make sense. A cupcake would realistically have flour, sugar, sprinkles, cupcake wrappers, baking rack, spatula, wooden spoon. Pull a little mound of color-coordinated props that make sense. Pick 5 that are most harmonious with your cuppie, and set up shop on your backdrop.
4. Add the unexpected.
Okay, hang with me here. One or two of your props can be surprising. Food photos often surprise. It's what makes us want to keep looking at a photo. It makes us think, feel. So don't be boring. A whim of wonderful is always welcome. But it still HAS TO MAKE SENSE. Top cupcakes with currants or hyacinths or a wild fern. Show 'em something they haven't seen before. But make sure it still makes sense.
5. Time to arrange!
Always set up your MAIN THING first. Decide what is the ONE THING you want to be the feature in your photo. Then prop around it. Your props are your FRAME. Place them in places that let them be supporting actresses, not star stealers.
I spent so many years trying to figure out propping. And unlocking the lucky 5 has been the single greatest rule for rockin' consistently pretty pics.
Tried it? Tag me in it! I wanna see how this works for you!
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY GEEK-OUT MOMENT
These images were shot with a Canon 5D Mk III paired with a SigmaArt 35mm f/1.4 lens. I love that lens. A lifestyle photog friend mentioned it was her go-to lens for family and portrait shoots, so I figured I'd give it a try. It's gorgeous. As with all the SigmaArt lenses, it's just a dream to have in your arsenal.
See my camera setup and discover even more tricks with my 90-Minute Food Photography Crash Course.
DID YOU KNOW I JUST LAUNCHED AN ALL-NEW DocuVlog?
Discover what A Day in the Life of A Food Photographer is like. Go inside my studio, visit me behind-the-scenes and see what I've got cookin' up. WATCH SEASON 1 of LOVE, LARK NOW.
Wanna nerd out even more? Find tricks, tips and answers 24/7 in my Food Blogging, Photography & Videography Facebook Group. It's free to join!