When it comes to Food Photography, food is always the hero, but there are unsung heroes that would totally make or break your image, these are also known as "Props".
Photo props are the items beside your main subject that add to the story and dimension of the photo. For example, plants, spoons, plates, napkins…etc. Think of them as an accessory complementing the main subject of your photo.
Photo props are not only important to highlight the food and tell a story, they also function as means to achieve consistency in your Instagram feed, selecting props that match your brand’s colour palette and mood will help you achieve a consistent look & get people to recognize your photos right away, this is not to be confused by using the exact same props in every picture, but more like using different combinations of props with a specific colour and texture throughout your feed.
So how do you go about selecting the right props for the food your are photographing and the story you are telling?
Here are few simple tips to help you get started with prop selection:
1. Food Basics:
Sprinkles, Coloured sugar, crackers, biscuits..etc - these basic food items can be excellent props by themselves adding life, colour and texture to your desserts & baked goods just like spices add life to your savoury dishes. The beauty of these props is that they have a long shelf life and don't take away from the taste or flavour.
2. Neutral Serving Items:
I like to use white because it goes great with most of the food I make/photograph. It doesn't compete with the food or dominate the scene and I can always use it in different shots without looking repetitive.
3. Props that are cohesive with your story:
For this specific shot I wanted to create a festive look and tell a story of a birthday cake or a celebration of some sort, which is why I chose props that give the impression that it's a party, yet neutral in colour so that they don't take away from the cake itself. However, at this point, the photo is looking crowded and the props are bit distracting, so I started removing the distractions.
Even though the background is now less cluttered, the prop at the front is still distracting for me, which brings me to my next tip...
4. Less is More!
Your props should not dominate the scene or take away from the food, which is star of the show! This is why keeping it simple is always best.
5. Action Props:
Even though I was happy with my photo, I wanted to add some action to my shot without using hands, or sprinkling food or slicing the cake, so I simply opted to use sparkling candles that work perfectly for this image, they add to the story, emphasize the cake and make a fun and interactive shot. Which is why I always have them handy to add to cakes, cupcakes or any dessert shot, because if you know me too well, you know I am always looking for an excuse to celebrate, haha, and I also chose this photo for my Instagram feed because I felt it's the most expressive :)