Sourcing props and building sets

Trying to continue my "How I shot this" series here.

While food itself can be amazing, it can also look drab.  You know the food- oatmeal for example.  This is where set design, props, and dishes come in to help build the story.  Added with the right light or mood, you can make some really gorgeous and delicious food photographs!

this wood was just a 4x4 piece of thin plywood that I found and then painted.

this wood was just a 4x4 piece of thin plywood that I found and then painted.

I source my props- dishes and utensils, mostly from antique and 2nd hand shops.  Every now and then I would buy a new dish, board, or utensil.  For the most part, the items from antique and 2nd hand shops have a character to them that really adds to the photograph.  Plus I personally can't resist .50 cent utensils!  But if you are trying for the super modern look, those dishes and utensils might not work.  So having a great selection from 2nd hand items to brand spanking new will be awesome for your photograph ideas.  Only, you will now need more space to store them.  Even if you decide to use them on a daily basis.

Sometimes common kitchen items come in handy, like wax paper to hand napkins.  Look around your kitchen and you might find something you want to use. 

red textured dish bought from a 2nd hand shop for...... $1.

red textured dish bought from a 2nd hand shop for...... $1.

Not just dishes, utensils, and minor props should be on your set.  The set itself, wood table, semi-gloss laminate plank of something you put the plate of food on is also important.  In the photograph above, I found a 1/4 in thick piece of plywood that was about 4 x 4 in its dimension.  Using a satin paint, in my case Blue Ocean from Behr paint, I pained the wood with one coat of paint.  Then used a rag to create both texture and light fade of paint. 

A lot of the sets are DIYs, that you can do yourself.  Sometimes the type of wood you are looking for you might have to buy.  Especially if you are looking for the rustic look.  You just can't buy that kind of wood at home depot.

I bought this wood table (no legs) for $15 at a 2nd hand shop

I bought this wood table (no legs) for $15 at a 2nd hand shop

If you are creating a food photograph in the 3/4 view as opposed to the top down, you will have to consider how the background will add to the image.  If you are on location, additional set pieces such as people (haha people are now set pieces!  I kid I kid!), glassware, condiments, and motion, can be added which make for a stronger food narrative in the image.  But if you are working in a studio, you might not have the people in the photograph.  So not only are you thinking about the glassware, condiments, but also what kind of color or texture in the background needs to be in the photograph. 

Depending on the look and feel of the food imagery you are trying to make how you design the set is something to think deeply on.  Of course on location you might not have this choice and that's where being creative to problem solve comes in. 

I'll get to lighting in a different blog post.