Food Props on Sunday, part 3 – plates, drinking glasses and cutlery and such things
This week I want to talk a bit about the most important food props, the ones you can’t really be without if you want to shoot food in a realistic way or should I say, in a credible way for a food blog or for any kind of food feature-I’m talking about tableware. And it is the simplest food props to use and get because I think dare to say that we all have a plate, a glass or a fork in our homes. And you don’t even have to use them all together, a plate or a bowl can be just enough as a food prop.
There are a few things to think about when you choose plates, dishes and bowls for food props and I will quickly take them up one by one:
– Colours. You have to think about the colour of the plate or bowl and how it might be used in conjunction with food. I have by far more white plates and bowls in different shapes than say red or brown, white is obviously the safest choice because white rarely interferes with the colours of the food and it doesn’t draw the attention away from the food either. It also works well with most backgrounds. But if you have the space and want to go a bit further in your food photography, I suggest that you could pick up tableware in other colours. Remember that I’m not talking about getting the whole series of a type plates but one maybe two plates so it doesn’t have to be expensive, nor take a lot of space.
It can also be nice to have coloured drinking glasses that contrast or matches the plates, it is not necessary to make complete table settings for every shot, not even a single on but it does look nice to see the colour of the plate in the background, it can fill out space of the image in a nice way.
– Pattern. Think carefully before you go and get patterned plates because a too bold pattern easily ‘deletes’ a food that doesn’t stand out or it makes the food look less good, sometimes the result can almost be they way you can feel on a boat in stormy weather and that is not the right way to feel when you look at it. Sometimes patterns work, sometimes not and you have to try to visualize the shot in your mind because food as we see it when we sit down to at looks different when you see it in a photo and here we deal with what we want to show in a two-dimensional image.
– Size. For several years I shot my food in the open door of my kitchen, the food was propped up on a piece of cardboard on top of my recycling bin and I sat or hunched on the floor in front of the set-up. And when I upgraded to my first studio place (if I can call it like that), it was just a small space, half a desk with a window on the left hand. And why do I tell you this? Because it shows that you don’t need a studio to shoot food, as long as you have the light, you can use small spaces like the ones I used but you need to adapt your props a little, you need to down-size it so that you can reduce the size of the setting. I used smaller props instead of the bigger ones I use now so it didn’t matter as much that I had to be so close to the food when I shot it, by using smaller plates, cutlery etc., you trick the onlooker to think that what she/he is looking at is the same size she/he sees on a normal dining table but you have to down-size all the food props – smaller plates, smaller glasses, smaller cutlery.
Cutlery is a bit different from plates and glasses because forks, knives and spoons usually play a minor role but they can still be important for conveying an atmosphere or a certain style. Details are important for the whole, details build up an image, we all know that so let’s not forget the cutlery, sometimes a nice spoon can give a photo just the right touch so when you see a nice fork, knife or spoon, grab it! If you don’t care much for them, some nice neutral ones work really well too.
Tableware is not difficult to find, I have got quite a few nice plates and bowls from my parents and my mother-in-law as well and now I even get plates as gifts from friends instead of wine or flowers when they come as lunch guests. Go to thrift shops, great places to find odd plates, glasses and cutlery, and I always keep my eyes open in supermarkets where they sometimes sell out end of the line series or just have sales or just cheap tableware that you can buy one piece of at a time. I also go to tableware shops and sometimes ask if they have odd ones, now and then a cup breaks so they are left with just the plate or they get chipped or whatever can happen to make a piece of tableware less desirable for a shop owner or customer and they are often happy let you have it cheaper. As usual, you just have to keep your eyes open and you will find lots of great and cheap food props to use for your shots.
Remember that I invited you to Show Us Your Food Props! Write about and show us your own food props in any way you please, it can be only photos, you can tell us which ones are your favourite ones or just give us useful tips about how to find or make great food props! Blog it, link back to any of the Food Props on Sunday posts here on Lucullian and send it to me at luculliandelights AT gmail DOT com with your name, the name of your blog and the url to the blog post and I will include you in the roundup that is planned for the 4thof July! Please remember to put Show Us Your Food Props in the subject line so that I don’t spam your email.