You do not need to spend a lot of money on props, you just need to know where to buy props for food photography. Many of the props I use were purchased with a very small budget. And I still absolutely love them today!
In the beginning I used some pretty plates that were left to me from my Grandmother. They are pretty plates and are almost 100 years old, but they were distracting. By distracting I mean that they take the attention away from the food, yikes!
I thought my pictures looked great in the beginning and then as I learned more about photography, I realized they were not so great. Now I cringe when I see those pictures!
So I want to spare you the embarrassing moments of using fancy plates and bowls because honestly, simple plain bowls are better then fancy! I go into more details about what to look for in how to pick food photography props.
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I absolutely love antique stores, they are one of the best places to buy props on a budget. I know I said nothing too fancy, but spoons like these are an exception. They were even nicely tarnished which gave them the not so perfect (but to me perfect) look.
Sometimes antiques are more decorative and you do want to be careful with that. Stand clear of too much design, but you can find some really amazing things at antique stores!
These dessert dishes in the picture came from the same store I got these spoons. This literally made my day when I found them! They are a little shiny, but with dessert in them you won’t see the shine.
Quite often these stores are cheaper unless it is a classic that is worth quite a bit of money. I paid less then $5 for the spoons and dessert dishes – major win!
My problem is that I can walk to a few of these stores – yeah I can spend a whole day cruising through them.
Thrift stores are another great place to buy food photography props. They are similar to the antique stores when it comes to be an affordable option.
Sometimes it is fun to plan a day to go thrifting. Not sure how many people call it that, but I know a few people who love to go from store to store and this is what we call it.
Basically you pick a day and map out all thrift stores that you want to check out. Go have some fun!
We have a local store that supports a local church so we like to walk around it often and see if there is anything we can use. We have found many different things over the years!
This may sound like an odd place to buy props for food photography, but seriously we find a lot of treasures here.
Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn’s Fabric are our favorites. These are the craft stores we have here, I am sure your local stores will be great too.
Many times I go to the craft stores to see if they have any holiday baking photography like for my St Patrick’s Day cupcakes or these felt hearts shown that were used in pictures for chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling.
The clear bowl I found on clearance at Michael’s and the cream colored bowl we found on clearance at JoAnn’s Fabrics.
While you don’t find a lot of plates or bowls at craft stores, quite often you can find other things to use for your pictures.
Amazon is one of my favorite online stores and it is my go to for many different things I need from tripods to backdrops.
Because it is online, you cannot see how shiny things are until you get them. For that reason I recommend being careful with what you get, but there are many things you can find.
I don’t buy plates here personally (I prefer to see them in person), but I do get some things like this spoon set. I love this set! It doesn’t get used in everyday cooking so I can keep them looking their best, but they are usable serving utensils. They are perfect for videos or photos.
You can also get wood cutting boards or even prep bowls. I got my clear glass prep bowls from Amazon.
Target is where I buy most of my props, well besides Bed Bath and Beyond (more on that below.)
I cruise through the kitchen section and their Hearth and Hand (not an affiliate link) section of the store. It is best to look at the stuff in the store because some of their stuff is shiny, but this stuff here was from that collection. All but the wooden spatula (that was Bed Bath and Beyond.)
I have found some great food photography plates and bowls there. As you can see above, these were taken in a strong lighting and there is no real glare.
But remember you have to check both the kitchen/dining area and their Hearth and Hand with Magnolia collections.
Bed Bath and Beyond
This brings us to my other favorite store, Bed Bath and Beyond! They send me coupons weekly which can be dangerous really, but they know I use a lot of them.
Quite often I find things like my favorite plate set here. It is a basic white set so I can use it with anything. They are sold individually (not in a set) so I didn’t have to buy a huge amount of dishes, just one of each. They are from the Bee & Willow collection.
It’s nice to have a bunch of matching dishes without buying an expensive set! Quite often you can buy them on sale and they usually have 20% off coupons (I get them all the time!)
Sometimes they have nice things marked on clearance too. I picked up a few different clear glass cups and mugs they had marked down. Perfect for making drinks look pretty.
I also got my Dutch ovens from there too at a reasonable price (you have to catch them on sale tho or they are pricy.)
Home Goods is a discount home store that can have some great finds from time to time. This is one of those stores that if you have one close, definitely check it out often.
You can now shop them online too, a couple years ago you could not view inventory online. At the time of writing this post I checked and see that you can now shop online!
There are many places you can shop for inexpensive things for your food photography! Props do not have to be expensive as long as you know the best place to buy props.
I know that not everybody has all of these stores by them, but hopefully you have similar stores. This list is to give you ideas and inspiration on your shopping.