Food Props on Sunday, part 6 -Guest Blogger Bron Marshall

Today I proudly present the first of my guest bloggers, my dear friend and food blogger Bron Marshall who is not only a great human being but also an extremely talented photographer and recipe developer. I often feel small and a bit envious when I look at her photos but as I like her so much and know what a generous person she is, I feel rather proud of her instead because she’s so good! If you don’t already know her food blog/magazine you must go there after you read her insightful piece on food props and enjoyed her photos! But before I let her loose here I wanted to remind you 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.

But now I will let Bron speak!

I really want to thank Ilva for giving me this opportunity to share a little about the food styling props I use and my take on the subject.

At first I didn’t consider I had a huge number of “food styling props”, however it’s all relative isn’t it?! I mean how we each as individuals view these things, maybe it’s because I’ve got such a large *prop want* list, I felt I didn’t have many things. Or maybe it’s because many of the things that end up in my photos are simply not “dedicated” or stored on shelves purely as styling props.

Madeleines_4_Props

When brainstorming ideas for this post I thought to myself… “so what exactly is the definition of a food prop?” I mean when does an item become a food prop other than a vessel to contain the soup? and prevent it from being a puddle on the floor? I don’t really know the answer to this, although two thoughts came to mind… when you choose any item for an image which also will feature food when that item indeed appears in an image along with food. No matter what that item is, it has now in at least my view been a food styling prop.

Jute_4_Props

So in truth I have plenty of potential props scattered around my home and I believe most of us do. A lot of it depends of how we view our stuff, and how we envisage the photo we are trying to create or perhaps re-create. Sometimes I’ve seen or envisaged an image I like and try to source a prop to help re-create it, if only in a small way. Other times I race to my studio with my baking and grab the first thing I see or whatever is on top with no plan.

It will be no surprise to learn I very much like food, kitchens, cooking, dining, baking and all the things that go with it. Any chance to obtain more pretty things and with an added bonus of being a great prop is cool with me!

Forks_4_Props

Many of the utensils, knives, forks and spoons in my photography are what we use everyday, from my mother-in-laws estate or one or two items I’ve picked up that I liked and thought would be useful for shots. Often these are cheap and labelled “disposable” – accept I that try not to get them too dirty, wash them and use them over. I’ve found baby feeding spoons are a cheap way of getting a colourful spoon.

For dinner plates, I actually simply have plain white or black sets, apart from a very few odds and ends. I’ve never been a big fan of patterned plates, for me the food is always been the star and I don’t want to detract from that too much. Partly that may be from growing up trying to find the food on my paternal grandmother’s vile patterned plates, or my chef training and working in restaurants where the plates are most always white. A blank canvas shall we say and of course it’s easy to get new items to match a white set.

Serving ware like charger plates, small bowls, little pinch bowls, dipping saucers and ramekins are where I often get a splash of colour for my shots. I’m more open to these having colours and patterns as most often the pattern is on it’s exterior and still white or plainly coloured on the inside. These are what I probably collect most of, they’re very easy to grab just one or two off rather than a large set. Small vessels can also be used for soups and liquids, where it’s easier to deceive the viewer into thinking they hold more than they really do!

For backgrounds I keep few boards which use regularly; a white laminated (we call it Formica) piece which I can easily wipe down spills, which is also is useful for a reflector! It was purchased at a simple hardware store as an adjustable shelving piece. I also use few of chopping boards some rather narly and worn and some from recycled Native NZ timbers. An old wooden chess board the tenant of our previous abode left behind has come in handy occasionally. A favourite darkly stained piece which was removed from an old chunky chair my mother-in-law carved and an off white faded plank of wood I recently found in our celling loft. While sadly this piece it’s not very wide, many of my shots are fairly close up so I can often get away with it or burn out the area of the photograph to white where the plank ends. I’ve used all sorts of odd pieces I find around the place from chicken pooped on hay bales, newspapers, luggage trunks, car bonnets to much fancier polished furniture.

Towels_4_Props

Textiles and papers I have a growing collection of tablecloths, dish towels, napkins and so on, but it’s more exciting to talk about the pieces in my shots come that from the most unlikely sources. In the past I’ve used my fairies colourful clothing, the baby clothes they have since grown out of, even their painting shirts, dirty overalls, woollen coats, quilting squares, fabric squares from their different craft projects, faux fur, pillow and cushion covers… it’s all good. As for papers, very few times have I kept these… simply as I’m a bit of a slob and they don’t last the distance with me before they get something spilt on them, wrinkled, dog earred or chewed by vermin… hehe. That goes for paper napkins too, I rarely use these in “real life” anyway as I’m very much into reducing our waste and prefer to use and wash cloths.

Other stuff – I keep all the ribbons, interesting things from gift wrapping we receive, I’ve always done this to recycle, reduce our waste and add back that little bit of bling when I myself give to others. I particularly like to support recycling, up-cycling, re-fashioning and all that stuff in my everyday life so it goes without saying I do for my photography props as well.

I shop at second hand and opportunity shops quite frequently, honestly I’m not sure we afford to dress our fairies so well it we didn’t! As Ilva mentioned they’re really are the most fantastic places to find older vintage and often unique or more locally made things, as are markets, flea markets and so on. Personally I also prefer to seek out fair-trade, hand-made goods and support local artists if possible, so small art galleries, aid stores or online places are great for that. There are amazingly talented people in this world, I think it’s only fair we pay them properly for their work and in return we are the happy owners of very unique hand crafted wares. Craft stores and art supply are fun places to find items too, not only for papers like the scrap booking types and ribbons, but for little miniatures from little pegs to spoons, bells, baskets, wooden trays etc. Natural fibres and bits pieces from the outdoors are great for introducing the idea of seasons and best of all they are completely free, all it takes is a walk in the park, or if you’re lucky to have your own garden just pop outside. Feathers, bird nests, blossoms, narcissus daffodils are all great for Spring, shells, sand, stones, tropical flowers all elude to warmer weather. Dried flowers, twigs, moss, acorns, nuts, whole spices and such for Autumn and Winter.

If you shop at organic and wholefood places the packaging is often more environmentally concious and therefore attractive to re-use for instance jute, linen flour bags, brown paper bags have all made there way into my collection, as do recycled glass jars. Old worn and rusty baking pans too, whether you clean them up to bake in them or keep them as is solely for props. I inherited some great ones from my Great Aunt, lined with a napkin or some baking paper they’re a wonderful vessel for styling rustic looking cakes, scones and breads.

At this stage Ilva is probably regretting inviting me to guest post… I tend to go on a little too much sometimes and indeed I’ve recovered a lot of ideas she previously suggested far more eloquently. I hope you have enjoyed seeing and hearing some of my views on food styling props. Thank you again Ilva so so much, I’ve really appreciated this look and discussion on our props.

Eggs_4_Props

Thank You Bron, I really appreciate you taking the time to write this! Come back next week and see who is the guest blogger.

Food Props on Sunday, part 1
Food Props on Sunday, part 2
Food Props on Sunday, part 3
Food Props on Sunday, part 4
Food Props on Sunday, part 5

L