Here are my Top 10 food photography props and backgrounds, items which I use all the time and couldn’t do without! They are also mostly cheap and easy to find and can add lots of new looks to your food photography without breaking the bank.
You generally want lots of light when photographing food (unless you are going for a dark moody shot). So when I first started out I used white card pinned onto cardboard boxes, which worked but was a bit of a faff. Then I discovered the wonders of foam board! It is cheap and much easier to use and move around. I seriously love this stuff, use it as a background, a base or to deflect light onto my dish. I generally use A3 and A2 sizes.
£7.99 for a pack of A3 Boards: Homesense, Amazon, most craft stores
This was one of my first background purchases, and I love it. I searched for ages to find a good sized piece of marble before stumbling across this one. You do need to slide a tea towel underneath to keep it in place, but other than that it makes an excellent background. (It can also double up as a pastry board as well, it stays lovely and cold!)
£24.00, Amazon, (I have also seen smaller versions in darker marble in Tiger Stores.)
I usually find the used ones with knife marks and variations in the surface best for photography, they add texture to an image. I have a collected a few in a range of shades over the last few years, from a light pine to a dark mahogany colour. Great for adding a little height to an image, displaying chopped ingredients or just as a background. I get mine in Cookware stores, Farmers Markets, TK Maxx and multiple Online Retailers.
4. Old Shed Door
I was hunting around for a good floorboard style background for ages. I looked everywhere, the vinyls in DIY stores were far to shiny, and lots of pieces of wood for sale online were quite expensive. My mother in law had her old shed dismantled, and I spotted the door lying on her patio. It was cut in two, and hey presto – FOUR new photography backgrounds! I kept one plain wood, one with the original green paint, then painted the other two sides white. I love them!
So keep an eye out for people having work done on their gardens, wooden fences or similar would also work well – you may need to sand them or repaint, but it is so worth it!
5. Napkins, Tea Towels and Table Runners
These are a cheap and easy way to add a bit of colour to an image or for hiding all manner of things you don’t want seen. Quickly disguise where a background and a base don’t quite match up by covering the line where they meet with a tea towel or napkin.
Experiment with different colours, to see what works for you. My most used are a blue and white striped tea towel, a red checked tea towel, a white napkin and a dark grey table runner. You can find these in lots of big supermarkets, TK Maxx, H & M Home, Zara Home etc.
As mentioned at the start of this post, I often use spare bits of white foam board to act as a reflector. I also purchased one online, which came in silver, gold and white. Great for adding extra light to a specific part of a dish. If your on a tight budget you can also wrap foil around a piece of card and use that, its just a bit more fiddley to use. £10.00 – £15.00, Amazon
Not the decorative lacy type, but ones with no pattern and a really fine mesh. I got mine from one of those cheap bedding and fabric shops, I think they were a few pounds each, one in cream and one in white. When its a really bright sunny day, these are just fab. I sling mine over the curtain rail and fix in place with a few kirby grips. I use cream when I want a softer light, and white just to reduce the glare of the sun. They create a lovely soft light, which I love – like in this picture of red fruits.
8. Black Card
I love using this as a base or background, its great for brightly coloured drinks or fruits – makes a lovely contrast. You can also rub chalk into it to give texture, or cover with baking parchment so the dark card is just visible beneath to give you a soft grey background. Its also great for ‘dusting with icing sugar’ shots, as the white contrasts beautifully with the black card. I get mine A3 sized or bigger, so there are no lines visible in my images. Around £5.99 from Amazon.
9. Used Baking Tray
One I discovered by accident, I carried some food upstairs (I photograph a lot in our spare bedroom) on an old baking tray. Placed it down on the floor and realised it made a really good textured background, it is now one of my favourites, I love its worn metallic look, perfect for cookies, chips, and roasted things!
10. Brown Parcel Paper or Baking Parchment
This is another cheap background, a big roll of brown parcel paper – I just tear bits off and photograph food on it, or even fashion a paper bag out of it for photographing fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s great because you don’t need much and its great for when you want to photograph cookies or fried things, gives it a nice rustic look.
Baking parchment is great for transforming an old background and making it look softer. It’s also great for putting food on a less hygienic base (like my shed door) as it keeps the food off the surface, and adds additional texture to the photo.
You can also scrunch it up so its all creased and use that as a base for photographs over white card or foam boards. Its so versatile, and also one you often have in your kitchen anyway!
Food Photography Props and Backgrounds
So there you have it! My Top 10 Food Photography Props and Backgrounds, they have helped my photography improve so much, I hope they help you as well.
If you have any food photography props or backgrounds that you love using do let me know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, check out my steps and tips on getting started on social media, or my post on why I started a food blog:
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