Becoming a food content creator can be very exciting and very confusing at the same time. Although there are many food bloggers out there, I’ve found that there is very little transparency and resources to help those just starting out. If you’re just starting out, make sure to check out the article Starting a Food Blog first! Once you have all those basics down, it’s time to starting investing in the blog. The small purchases can make the biggest differences when it comes to food photography. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to take your food blog to the next level! Here’s everything I’ve invested in over the last few years from tripods to ceramics & my tips for curating your collection.
Get a Good Tripod
There’s a lot of tripods out there for bloggers, but trust me – don’t skimp on this. Take this from someone who’s been through way too many cheap tripods that just end up breaking with time. Once you’re serious about blogging, get a good heavy-duty tripod that’s going to last you a long time. I have the Arkon overhead tripod and have had it for over a year now. It’s an $89 investment, but it’s very sturdy and doesn’t fall easily so it’s great for hands free filming.
The most important prop is the backdrop! This will often set the mood for the picture, so spend some time thinking about it. If you have a nice table, you can use that as a backdrop. I personally like to have variety so I purchase artificial backdrops that I can easily pick up and move around. I’ve tried a few companies and there are the ones I was happy with:
- Affordable Option : 5 Backdrops for $70
- These are the first ones I got and used for over a year. They’re a solid option if you’re looking for something lightweight, but they are a little small
- Slightly More Expensive Option – 1 for $77
- I transitioned to this once I started getting consistent income from my blog. They are higher quality than the previous ones, bigger and have more options. My only problem with these was that they tend to be a little reflective when the sun is really bright and directly shining on it.
- Expensive Option – 1 for $150+
- The Woodville Backdrops are on the expensive side but very high quality. I own 2 of these and use them pretty much exclusively for every video or picture you’ve seen on my blog this year.
If you’ve done some research on this, you’ve probably come across the most common question : is natural lighting better or artificial lighting? I am personally a big fan of naturally lighting and only use that for all my videos and pictures. That’s why I typically film and photograph between 7am and 1 pm most of the time. I’ll discuss my lighting setup below, but if you’re interested in artificial lighting instead, The Bite Shot has some great videos on YouTube!
My natural lighting photography setup for food photography looks very similar to this setup from the MCKENNA BLOG. For the reflector, I use this board and it works really great, plus it has a super reflective surface, regular white and black to absorb where there’s too much lighting.
Affordable Plates & Bowls
Having a few white plates and bowls is a must! They are versatile and can be used for a variety of shots. Many of my plates and bowls are from Target, from their Magnolia Collection. My advice would be to make sure to get plates and dishes that are smaller in size so that the food fills up more space and creates a full plate. When it comes to plates and bowls, there’s a lot of options but here’s a few that should cover the basics.
- 1 Side Plate in White (slightly smaller than a dinner plate)
- 1 Side Plate in a different color
- 1 Shallow Bowl (easier for plating than a deep one)
- 2 Coffee Mugs (for warm drinks)
- 2 Ramekins (for single serve desserts)
- 2 Cocktail Glasses (for drinks, refreshers, etc)
Many food photographers will style their food in serveware, such as a serving tray, a dip bowl or a casserole dish. For this, you can use serveware that you typically use when you have guests over. The Magnolia Collection at Target also has a lot of affordable options:
Etsy is a great place to find unique food photography props, including cutlery. I like to search for “Vintage Cutlery” or “Bronze Cutlery” and pick an affordable option. Target also tends to have great affordable cutlery options.
Investing In Ceramics
At some point in your food photography journey, I recommend investing in some ceramics and pottery. They bring an earthy, homey vibe to your pictures and are high quality. I personally love East Fork Pottery and slowly build my collection one piece at a time. I find they make the pictures look less staged and more raw.
- The Everyday Bowl – Perfect for plating soups and stews
- Cake Plate – perfect for smaller foods like a donut
Linens are a must for every food photographer. Their free-flowing nature give you the opportunity to add movement to your pictures, making them appear unstaged. I absolutely love these gauze ones from Amazon. Sometimes, I’ll also use cloth napkin as linens to add layers to the photos. Linens are a great way to add a home-y vibe to your pictures without spending too much money. There are also plenty of independent linen sellers on Etsy!
Glass Jars And Bottles
Glass jars and bottles are a great way to fill up your frame without overcrowding it. For example, if you were to share a picture of cookies, you could have a glass bottle of milk in the backdrop. This sets the scene for the frame. Some of my favorites are from Crate and Barrel!
A simple, cheap set of wooden utensils are a great way to fill up your frame. You can photograph someone serving pasta with them or just lying next to the dish!
There’s probably a lot more I missed, but if you ever come across a certain prop on my page that you like you can shoot me a DM on Instagram! I’ll probably remember where I got it.