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Food Photography Props

Food photography props
Food photography props

Food photography is an art that demands not only technical skill but also a creative eye for composition. A key element in this process is the food photography props, which often challenge both beginners and seasoned photographers.

What are the food photography props?

The selection of props for food photography is crucial; these include a wide range of items such as plates, tablecloths, napkins, glasses, cutlery, backgrounds, and many others necessary to set up a scene that enhances the food subject in question. The set’s aesthetics are just as important as the meal itself, and choosing the most suitable food photography props can make the difference between a good photo and a great one.

Beginners often wonder about the essential props to start with in food photography, while professionals aim to keep updating and enhancing their gear.

To assist both beginners and professionals, I have decided to create an updated guide to food photography props, a dynamic resource that will be continually enriched with new discoveries and tips. The hunt for the ideal food photography props is an exciting adventure that should be undertaken with discernment: every purchase must be considered to avoid unnecessary waste and clutter. A thoughtful selection of food photography props is crucial for those aiming for excellence in the field.

As you develop your style, you will discover which food photography props best reflect your artistic vision. The choice to keep or discard certain items becomes a personal journey towards defining your own visual identity.

With a wide range of food photography props available on the market, the opportunity for customization is endless, allowing you to take your images to the next level and enrich your portfolio.

The constant search for new food photography props and experimentation with them is the secret to creating culinary compositions that capture attention and tell a mouthwatering story through the lens of your camera.


In every new journey, the basic principle is to start from the foundations. Selecting the first food photography props with care is more than essential: it avoids the superfluous and complications, preferring simplicity and ease of management. It’s advisable to begin with a selection of versatile food photography props, allowing experimentation with different setups without cluttering the workspace.

The choice of appropriate food photography props is crucial for the quality of the images. One should start with a basic set of 3-4 backgrounds, opting for neutral tones such as beige, grey, black, and white, perhaps integrating natural materials like wood and stone.

It’s not necessary to immediately purchase a wide range of colors; it’s better to proceed gradually. Gradually expanding one’s collection of food photography props allows for refining technique and identifying personal style. At the core of every shot that aims to capture the essence of gastronomy is the image composition, where food photography props play a key role. These tools, so essential in defining the atmosphere and adding depth to the shot, should be chosen with careful consideration of their visual and functional impact. A good practice is to accumulate neutral and versatile props, such as white ceramic plates or transparent glasses, that don’t distract from the main subject but enhance its shape and colors.

Over time, the photographer’s eye learns to discern which background or plate can serve as the best stage for each type of dish, creating that visual synergy that elevates a dish from mere food to the subject of art. It’s not the number of props that defines the quality of the shot, but the ability to use them intelligently. In this perspective, even the purchase of a new plate or tablecloth becomes a thoughtful addition to one’s creative arsenal. The art of culinary photography lies in the harmony between subject and background, in the ability to speak through every detail without words.

food photography PROPS - Luxurious or cheap?

In the search for food photography props, it’s not always necessary to gravitate towards expensive solutions. Often, the true discovery lies in hidden and overlooked corners. My personal experience is a clear example of this. In my neighbor’s garden, I spotted an unexpected treasure: an old wooden table, one of those sturdy ones used by masons. Abandoned to the elements, it had acquired an ineffable patina that only time can bestow.

My neighbour generously agreed to donate it to me. After carefully disinfecting and cleaning it, that table became a silent yet powerful protagonist of my photo sessions, imparting a touch of authenticity and warmth to the images.

The table was generous in size, so I decided to divide it: from a single piece, two different backdrops were born, both double-sided. One side was kept in its original wooden color, while the other I covered with an elegant matte black. The smaller piece now boasts one side left natural wood and another painted in a delicate sky blue. This simple painting intervention doubled my creative possibilities without burdening the budget.

Through this experience, I learned that food photography props are not measured in terms of luxury or economy, but in the value they add to the visual narrative of food. With a pinch of inventiveness, even the humblest objects can transform into indispensable tools for the culinary photographer.

The light blue side Food Photography props
The light blue side
The Black Side
The Black Side

My advice to food photography enthusiasts is to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes. Every environment can conceal raw materials ideal for creating original backgrounds. Explore building supply stores, flea markets, vintage shops, cellars, and attics: you might find wooden boards that, with the right treatment, will become your favorite backdrops.

The search for new backgrounds is a creative process that involves every photographer, regardless of their level of experience. Often, DIY skills and a touch of inventiveness can result in significant cost savings without sacrificing quality. Reusing and recycling with creativity is not only environmentally friendly but also allows for further customization of your photographic equipment.

Online, you can find countless resources on how to create DIY backgrounds for food photography. Take the time to watch the video HERE, experiment, and why not, share your experience. In fact, in the future, I might also share my personal techniques for creating backgrounds, thus enriching the pool of knowledge available to all enthusiasts of this art form.


The selection of the background is a fundamental chapter in the visual narrative of food photography. The options are endless: paper, wood, vinyl, fabrics… each material offers a different texture and mood, capable of amplifying the message you want to convey through your shots.

However, it’s essential to proceed with caution in choosing the background: the risk is that a background that’s too overpowering may overshadow the subject rather than enhance it. A pattern that’s too bold or a shade that’s too vibrant can distract attention rather than attract it.

Example of a neutral backdrop compatible with the subject
Example of a background with a pattern that is too bold, incompatible with the subject

In the art of food photography, the choice of background serves a narrative function that goes far beyond mere visual accompaniment. This moment of selection is a dance between intent and instinct, an intimate dialogue between the photographer and their work. The perfect background acts as a stage that spotlights the subject, enhancing every detail without ever overshadowing it. The chosen materials and tones must merge in a visual embrace, accentuating the hues of the food and enticing the eye to taste. The ability to create this balance is what distinguishes a masterful shot, an image that transcends simple photography to become a testimony of a complete sensory experience.

Through the photographer’s lens, even the humblest of backgrounds can transform and take on a new vitality, becoming a co-star in immortalizing a culinary moment. In this creative space, every texture can tell a story, every shadow can weave mystery, and every reflection can play with perception. This is the magic that lies behind the selection of backgrounds in food photography: a magical encounter between art and craftsmanship that unfolds in every shot.

On the other hand, the choice of backgrounds and food photography props is deeply personal and subjective, depending on the artistic interpretation and communicative intent of the photographer. There are no fixed rules except those of experimentation and personal satisfaction: if you like a background and believe it does justice to your work, then it’s the right choice for you. Photography is self-expression, and the background you choose contributes to defining that expression.


Props for food photography – white ceramic bowls.

In addition to selecting backgrounds, it’s essential to carefully choose other food photography props, such as plates, glasses, bowls, cups, cutlery, and napkins. These elements, equally important in your compositions, should be chosen based on available space, the specific technicalities of your camera, and the lens being used.

For those who are new to photography with an APS-C camera and a standard 18-55 mm lens, it’s recommended to opt for smaller-sized food photography props to facilitate framing, especially in limited spaces. However, if you have a full-frame camera, you can afford larger props that are well-suited for lenses with wider focal lengths.

An ideal starter set should include at least two units of each type of props: plates, bowls, cutlery, and glasses, up to a multifunctional cutting board and serving plates. For beginners, matte surfaces are recommended to avoid unwanted reflections, while for glassware, selecting textures that minimize reflections is suggested.


The choice of where to purchase your food photography props largely depends on your geographical location. For the English language audience, I focus on English, American and Australian shops that offer a wide range of options. For those browsing from the Italian website, I also include options in Europe. Please check them HERE.

Where to buy ceramics?

Ceramics today are crafted based on many original ideas and have a fascinating and sometimes surreal aesthetic.

I particularly prefer the naturalness and versatility of terracotta. Terracotta is the ideal choice if you want to select decorations that are easily combinable and adapt to many styles. Terracotta is a mixture of clays that are fired and then left with its natural coloring, the typical terracotta color, or colored. Whether it’s strong contrasts or harmonious colors, you will always find inspiration in terracotta!

Many artists have developed lines of terracotta plates and glasses. This is because of the high demand from food photographers, bloggers, and numerous Michelin-starred chefs who rely on this material for serving dishes in their high-class restaurants!

Here’s where you can find some special pieces to enrich your props collection:

Potterybyjaneward is the Etsy shop of artist Jane Langmaid Wardone and one of my favorite pottery shops. I have purchased some Caribbean blue seashell bowls, and they are fantastic. I just love them! The prices are very affordable.

EveryStoryStudio is a Nottingham-based Etsy shop in where you can find various interesting objects at low prices.

ElementClayStudio is an Etsy shop based in Georgia U.S. selling gorgeous modern ceramics. The prices are not economic, but the products are worth all the money.

On Worldmarket you can find a multitude of dinnerware, kitchen tools, and other props.

At Crate&Barrel you can find all the props you need from beautiful dinnerware, serve ware, and barware. The prices are not always affordable, but the quality is top. They ship all over the world.

WestElm in UK or US has some great props. Most of their plates and utensils can be purchased a la carte. I love the line Kanto Dinnerware – Warm Sand.

Where to buy food photography backdrops?

CaptureByLucy sells lightweight PVC vinyl backgrounds with scratch-resistant coating for durability. Printed on smooth, durable material they are wipeable and roll for easy storage in a postal cardboard tube. The standard size backdrops measure 2ft by 3ft (approximately 60cm by 91cm) and are £29.95 plus VAT. Double-size 3ft by 4.5ft backdrops are available as custom orders at £59.95 plus VAT. They are printed in the South West of England. They are all large-scale format prints of an original photograph taken by Lucy.

Food Photography Store is my shop for washable and roll-up vinyl backgrounds. The backdrops are printed on Eco Flat 398 gsm vinyl, the latest generation material with great performance. They are very resistant, printed with inks, and have long-lasting technology. The surface is opaque and waterproof, ideal for food and drink photography. They can be cleaned with a wet sponge and dried with a soft cloth. The price is very good for the size offered and the transport is included in the price for the United States. The available sizes are approx. 2 ft. x 3 ft., approx. 2,5 ft. x 4 ft. and approx. 3 ft. x 5 ft.

Photobackdropclub sells backdrops in flexible PVC with a matte finish, waterproof and easy to wipe clean, realistic, color-accurate, high-res 1:1 replica of the original texture, printed in Edinburgh UK. Available in 2 ft. x 3 ft. and 3 ft. x 4 ft.

KateBackdrop is an English company that produces a greater variety of wonderful backgrounds starting from those in resistant microfiber fabric, computer printed up to rubber ones.

Top Lighting Photo Studio is the shop where you can buy photography backdrops at a very low cost. Be patient because they come from China. You can find a large variety of colors and sizes.

Ink&Elm is a vinyl backdrop store in Idaho United States. If you buy three backdrops, they give you one free.

Where to buy napkins and dish clothes

Crate & Barrels sells napkins that come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and materials. In addition, they are available in a great variety of sizes and shapes including square and rectangular.

You can take a look at the EUROPEAN SHOPS LIST in the Italian version of this article.

In conclusion, food photography is a visual and creative journey that is continuously enriched through the selection and use of specific props. Every dish has its story, and every background, plate, or napkin contributes to telling it. It’s your passion and curiosity that bring each image to life, transforming ordinary ingredients into art. I invite all of you, lovers of culinary photography, to share with me your experiences, your successes, and even the challenges you have faced.

Write to me, tell me about that accessory or trick that has elevated your shots, or about that unexpected discovery that has opened new creative doors for you. Together, we can build a community of sharing and growth, where every food photograph becomes a chapter in a larger story, full of flavor and beauty. And if you find inspiration or usefulness in this article, don’t hesitate to share it. The beauty of culinary photography multiplies when shared.