Lou’s Top Tips: Setting The Scene For Your Food Pic

Set a picture

Did you catch my article last week on how to take the perfect food photograph? I explained all about lighting and food placement to capture your cooking in the easiest and best way possible.

This week, we’ll take a quick look at  props and styling. This is the perfect piece if you’re looking to take food photography to the next level.

The main thing to remember, as always, is to experiment! And to not get hung up on trying to style your photographs with fancy or expensive props. Remember, only use props when they’re really relevant, not for the sake of it…

1. Theme

When propping photographs, I try and stick to a theme – for example, dark or light, modern or rustic, summer or winter… the food must come fist, and then a theme which compliments it. Although there are no hard and fast rules, I find the colour of the plate in particular can have a lot of impact on your food. I personally opt for more neutral plates – photographing on a bright purple plate isn’t doing your food any favours! Coloured glassware, mugs, napkins or side dishes are much safer way of introducing colour into your props. But rules are made to be broken, right?


2. Ingredients

Sometimes you may like to hint towards what’s inside of the dish by dressing the table with some of the ingredients / equipment used in the recipe. For example, a lemon drizzle cake might not look very lemony at first glance, but with a few lemon rinds or a used zester on the table might help to tell the story of how the food tastes!

Strip 1

3. Think outside the box

Have a look around your house for interesting items – you might be able to re-fashion a candle tray into a salsa dish, or your kitchen floor might make a great background – think creatively.

4. Make use of charity shops

These are my favourite places for prop hunting. You just don’t know what you may (or may not) find. You might not be able to get everything you want in one or two visits, but if you always have it in the back of your mind to pop in every time you pass, you might just find some treasures over time.

6. Surfaces

One of the biggest challenges when styling that I’ve found is varying the surfaces and backgrounds. Once you’ve photographed your kitchen worktop 30 times you might fancy a change.  As a general rule, picking a surface that contrasts with your food or plates can help make the subject pop. Photographing brown food on a brown table will be tricky.

Strip 2 Today

7. A few more insider tips

– Collect scraps of material, old tea towels, table cloths, or even buy off cuts from a fabric shop.

– Wallpaper. Some hardware stores allow you to take free samples of wallpaper to take home. Bag yourself some marble effect vinyl or some dark, textured paper – the options are endless. Some work better than others, but if you’ve got a way to make Micky Mouse themed wallpaper work, then share with me using #sortedfood!

– In the past, I’ve also bought cheap wooden cladding from the hardware shop, and a couple of sample paint pots to create my own coloured ‘wooden’ backdrops. They don’t necessarily have the heavy duty feel you may be looking for, but are an easy win for achieving a different feel on the cheap. By the way, don’t forget to paint both sides, otherwise it will warp and it’s like photographing food on a surf board, trust me on that one :).

Got any other tips? We could certainly use some new ones at SORTEDfood. Let us know how you photograph food!

Lou is part of the SORTEDfood team and we wouldn’t be anywhere without her! Lou’s role behind the scenes varies from capturing the chaos on the day to editing the final videos. Not to mention having to keep the four idiots in check… Check out her own work on her Instagram and SORTED account.

SORTEDfood: louise
Instagram: @louiboo