Best Props for Elevating your Food Photography

Best Props for Elevating your Food Photography

October 7, 2020
Shari Steinbach
Business Skills

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

“The photos you take tell a story. A story about you, your brand, your retailer’s brand, your health philosophy. It’s one way you can connect with customers because photography helps convey emotion better than words. So, when you are choosing props, think about the story you are trying to tell, the lifestyle context you are trying to portray and how it will resonate with your target audience. If you can connect with customers at an emotional level and be that company or brand that “gets me” then as a dietitian you can continue to help them make positive lifestyle changes.” (Kara Behlke, Director of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Pork Board).

Here is a list of 6 essential props that will help your photos connect with customers to capture their attention and appetites:

  1. Neutral background – The background is the setting for your story. A wooden surface may portray a cozy, country setting, while a white granite surface is more modern. Look for an understated background that creates contrast but does not distract from your food.
  2. Fabrics with texture – From frayed napkins to a striped linen table runner, a simple piece of textured cloth positioned on the side of your dish can add depth to the photo. Think about how the color and texture enhances the story. Neutral colors are often best and make sure to iron out any creases in the fabric.
  3. Wooden accents – Wooden pieces like cutting boards can create a rustic feel and are perfect for fall-inspired meals or desserts. You can also use a wooden charger under a plate or a wooden dining room table as your background.
  4. Objects with character – Check around your house or a local antique shop for some unique items like tea cups, a patterned tray, or a charming basket. They can all help tell your story and add interest to the photo.
  5. Food ingredients – Use your extra ingredients to insert a dash of creativity to your photo. Add slices of fruit, sprinkle some seeds, or add whole spices like star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. You can also carefully position some individual whole fruits or vegetables into the photo. The displayed ingredients can help individuals see what’s actually in the dish.
  6. Variety of bowls, plates and unique utensils – While white dishes can really put the focus on your food, don’t be afraid to experiment with a beautiful decorated plate or one with a different rim.  Seek out some bowls with personality along with unique utensils that can add a note of whimsy to your photo and the story you are trying to tell.

If you currently don’t have the budget for custom photography, find ways to partner with your marketing department and leverage existing media relationships they might have. Or, reach out to commodity boards such as the National Pork Board as they have assets that you can utilize and customize for your retailer.

Click here to view the Communicating Nutrition Through Food Photography session from the recent RDBA Virtual Event.