Food Photography: Makeshift Props on a Budget – By a Beginner, For the Beginner, Part 2

Another food photography post, as promised after the previous (Food Photography: Light), was long overdue.  But a comment today triggered me to write one.  Because while all the “great clicks” and “looks tempting” type of comments blinds your eyes, there comes a person who opens them, pushing you to do better.

With all due respect to the realistic commenter who gave her constructive criticism (about my photos not being as good as another blogger's), there are some things about comparing one blogger’s food photography with another, that as an amateur food photographer I’d like to share.  I know it’s normal to compare, but there are several factors that make a difference.  Props collection and creative vision, for starters.

First, prop collection: A photographer who has numerous cookware & serveware items in the kitchen over the years can have more variety in food photos than someone who just started a household.  One who owns wood, napkins, antiques, and other props can have more variety in photos than someone who doesn't.

Second, creative vision:  Color combinations, prop placement, composition, food styling, shot angles, and post-processing creativity – one has it, one doesn’t, or one gradually learns to have it.  I will too, soon.

So, that is why I say it's not fair to compare.  And now, for beginners like me – let me share some behind-the-scene pictures of food I have clicked using some minimal and makeshift props with stuff I have at home.   There are people like me who just started to build up our collection, but do not want to splurge unnecessarily on props.  And so many of them can take advantage of the things available at home!  These examples are only to give you a basic idea.  I'm sure you can use them more creatively.

Using white poster board as reflector, supported by carton.  The blue flower is made with paper.  The napkin is a dress.


Using dupatta (long scarf) as background.  You can even use sari.  I have used salwar suits, kurtis, and t-shirts as tablecloth/backdrop as well.

Using paper folder.  I've even painted some A4 sheets with different colors.

Guess what the backdrop is?

Using poster board. Was not bought specially for photos.  My hubby had written "Welcome Home" on it when I came to US.  I'm using the back of poster for this purpose!  Edited picture to erase label later.

Guess?
Figure out where these were used in the pictures above!

I have learned that while some people will continue to praise your photography, some will continue to criticize.  What's important is that you continue to get inspired by photographers you admire, and continue to learn.  In reference to the aforementioned commenter, honestly, several times earlier I have wanted to give up, because I felt like I take ridiculous photos.  But I forget that the learning hasn’t ended – it has just begun.

More Food Photography Posts:
Part 1: Light
Part 4:  Behind-the-Scenes

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32 comments:

  1. Wat a lovely post, seriously useful for food bloggers like us,thanks a lot.

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  2. lovely and very useful post. imostly do the same but with time has become obsessed with crockeries. the small cupboard is now over flowing and need to check it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks!
      I know, buying new props totally becomes an addiction and it just never seems enough. I had to control myself quite a lot!

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  3. very useful tutorial... thanks a lot.. plz keep posting like this...

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  4. lovely and useful post ... thanks for sharing these tips ...

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  5. Fantastic post! I like this post on so many levels. Firstly, for your honesty. I picked up my camera and started clicking 5 years ago. It's always off and on. Because I've always clicked when I wanted to. I've never considered myself a creative person or an artist by any means. The most important thing to me is the willingness to learn and keep improving oneself. I quit my job last year and that has constraints. I know the addiction to buying props etc .. and it needs space! Don't have it.:) I have picked strange things from all over the house for my food photos. I get a sense of achievement coz that's real creativity. We are learning & improving in every shot and that's what counts:)

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Vishakha :)
      Love your comment. You've said everything within a paragraph that I wanted to convey in the post :)

      Delete
  6. Nice post Nisha, I like your idea of using available stuffs as props etc.

    I don't think in my case it won't work . Last week I made a cake and try to take picture. After some I realized one side of cake is gone. My hubby told me it is your daughter who took it. So you can imagine my situation.

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    1. Hehe! I know you have a hard time, but I enjoy whenever you talk about your kids :D Too cute!

      It helps to keep all the props set beforehand by the time food is ready, then click pics quick before the kids attack it :D

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  7. Awesome post... definetly helpful for a beginner like me. I must add that I live in a house with a great collection of crockery and extraordinary pieces (all bought by my late MIL) that can be good props for photography, but lazy me... I keep using the same stuff which is in sight. I have used a shirt for backdrop once, but using it as napkins is great idea. I've been considering making some napkins from old bedsheets to use for photography. I'm not so passionate about photography and there was a time when I just wanted to stop it all. Have been getting by some how.

    I love your creativity. Using simple things to make a picture look so attractive.I guess it doesn't matter what we have, it matters what we can make of what we have. You have inspired me... :)

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    1. Ah, now you should think of using more from your great collection :D
      Anyway your pictures are quite good, Anisha!
      Thanks for the comment :)

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  8. great tutorial.. love those pics. it's great for those who need inspiration in photography or are just beginners.

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    1. Thanks Nisha. This one's especially for those who don't want to spend on buying props particularly for photography.

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  9. love this post.. i use random things like that too.. and have actually just bought a few things as real props..:) great going!

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    1. Thanks Richa. Then seeing you're photography with minimal props, who'd say one has to spend hundreds $$$ on props to get as good photos as yours!?

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  10. LOVELY POST!! Best part about the post is your honesty to share such tips.Buying props is an addiction and I have not got addicted to it yet, so manage whatever I have at home for my photography. Cheers and keep rocking!!!

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    1. Thank you Anamika, honesty is all you'll find here :)

      Totally. The prop-addiction bug bit me last year, and then I brought my condition under control.

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  11. Very nice and informative post....

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  12. Hi. I'm glad to discover and follow your blog. I really enjoy food photography but face the same problem with props (not to mention my humble point and shoot camera). I live in a tiny condo with a tiny kitchen , so can't buy too many pieces of crockery and cutlery. I just have the basics and have to look for stuff around the house to brighten up things. This post is definitely helpful for me.

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    1. Thanks Sadaf!!
      I totally understand, I'm in a small apartment too. But even if I were in a big house, I wouldn't spend money on buying props. That's exactly why people like you & I have to get creative in making use of whatever available and possible! :D

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    2. Very interseting post, get the best with what you have..

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  13. Interesting post in food photography... :)

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  14. Oh wow..thats some amazing tips for photos..I loved each of it especially the use of the strap top ;) I am going to steal the ideas :p thaks for sharing... after a long time here...going thru all the posts

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    1. Thank you Sayali :)
      And haha, go ahead!

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  15. Im overjoyed with uncontained happiness reading this post, WE PROUD OF YOU :) :) :)

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    1. Your comment absolutely surprised me. Thanks Nitin! :)

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  16. cannot tell you how good this post is.. i use my kurtas, t shirts and my hubby's tshirts too to create a contrast.. .. well in a new place with minimum furniture, minimum bowls and plates..a good pic is areal challenge.. i loooovvveeee that strap photo. that was vow.. looking forward to more ideas and posts about food ohotography from you.love ur blog!!

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    1. It's good you're making use of all those things, because it's definitely a challenge & I totally understand!
      Thanks for your kind comments, Renu, I'm glad :)

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  17. Nice post there Nisha, even I dont like to spend too much on props. The beauty and fun of it comes from making do with what we have lying around at home...

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  18. I totally agree with your thought on buying props and such unnecessarily just for pictures. Whenever I see props, I always try to think if its only for pictures or will it really be helpful in kitchen or other purposes too! I am pretty impressed by your creativity and using things around the house!!

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  19. Just awesome :) I was like wowwwww.....

    Thank u so much for sharing. It is so helpful !!!! :)

    Cheers !!!
    Divya Gattani
    http://divyaszaika.blogspot.in/

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