Food Props on Sunday, part 8 – Guest Blogger Meeta from What’s For Lunch Honey

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Food Props on Sunday goes on, will it never end you ask and the answer is yes it will and it will hopefully end with a bang called 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 (but could be moved to the 11th) 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.

This weeks guest blogger is made by another talented photographer and food propper, the lovely Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey? has gracefully agreed to make a post about how she looks at food props and their various uses. Meeta and I have been friends for quite a few years now, I’m not that good at socializing via emails but slowly we have built up a solid friendship despite of my lack of consistency. I really enjoy her photography that I find both inspirational and beautiful and I really I’m sure you do too.

Passionfruit Curd

Before I get into this post I would really like to thank Ilva for allowing me to use her space here on Lucullian Delights. Ilva has been a part of my life for a few years and she is one of the handful of people I truly admire. Her photography is unique and the way she expresses herself through her images always fills me up with intense emotion. So I was so very honored when she asked me to come on over and write a bit about Props and Food Styling.

When I tell people I am a freelance food photographer and stylist, they usually are with me till the food photography part, albeit with a few funny looks. However, I see the huge question mark on their faces when I mention food styling. The question that always accompanies the look on the faces is “Why style food?” The answer is fairly simple: Food needs to be prepared and styled to feed the eyes and the imagination. It’s basically pimping up the food to look its best for a perfect photograph.

IKEA LOOT

I was recently in London speaking at the Food Blogger Connect on the topic of Food Photography and Styling. The tone from many of the attendees was similar – “we’d like to know how to style and use props efficiently in our food photos!” One needs to consider that what looks good for our eyes does not necessarily mean it looks good for the eye of the camera. We have two eyes, which makes us take in images differently as the one eye of the camera does. Our eyes takes in images in more dimensions and colors as the one eye of the camera does. We need to look through the lens of the camera and create a set-up which translates what we see with our eyes, equally well into an image.

Saffron - The Queen of Spices

This is done with the help of several things, like lighting for example but also with the help of props, backgrounds and styling. In Part 6 of Ilva’s Prop Series Bron wonderfully defined what a prop is. I could not agree more. Everything could be a potential prop. One just needs to let the imagination run wild. I have used everything from a sliced log to an old kitchen cupboard door, to wall paper, wrapping paper and picture frames.

Chocolate Mousse with Bailey's Creme Caramel

How does one go about finding the right prop for the image? This of course depends on several points. I usually begin thinking about my styling and props while I am actually baking or cooking a particular dish. I consider such points as the texture and color of the food and think about the atmosphere I want to create. I ask myself: What message to I want to send out? This helps me mentally go through the props I have (or decide if I need to buy new ones. There is always a good excuse to buy new props.)

My Prop Collection 1

I have a 7 year old son and a full time job so I usually do not have too much time to spend fretting on a piece of stray parsley. What I have created however, is a an effective and simple styling methodology that helps me getting my shot. For me the food is the real star of my set-up and I like using props minimally but effectively. I like to keep my images simple, clean and not cluttering it with too many bold looking props or backgrounds. To achieve this I have invested in a lot of white or light colored plates, bowls and cups, highlighting this with colorful backdrops and linens to add the desired color.

Almonds - Simple Ingredients 1

When you are investing in plates, bowls, forks, spoons and knives buy smaller sized items. Basically because props and food tend to look huge in photographs. So, never plate and actual “real” portion for your images. Furthermore, you will realize that smaller portions are easier to handle while you are preparing the set-up. While I really like crisp overall white shots, I particularly find images in deep chocolate browns and blacks intriguing, rich and elegant. I find it gives the food a wonderful texture and boosts contrasting colors even more. One should use color in the photos thoughtfully and in moderation. Using too many color themes will take away the attention away from the main motive – the food and even cause the image to look tacky.

My Prop Collection 2

My main advice to everyone would be to always look at your set-up through the camera. I like to imagine this space as my canvas and begin adding and coloring the canvas. I analyze the color and color combination of the food. Then I select my background and pick out the bowls/plates and napkins accordingly. I continuously check the set-up through the camera to see if my vision is being translated as I imagine it to be through the camera lens. Finally I will do minor touch-ups by adding or taking away props or additional bits of food. Once I am happy with what I see I start taking the pictures.
The most important thing to remember while you are experimenting and trying to find the right look for your food images is to stay true to your style and have fun doing it. Get inspired by looking at images from your favourite photographers and food bloggers, but do not copy them. Instead create your own style with your creativity and imagination. That’s where you’ll discover the fun and passion.

Thank you very much Meeta for taking the time to talk about food props!

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
Food Props on Sunday, part 6
Food Props on Sunday, part 7

L