How To: Building An Essential Prop Collection

How To: Building An Essential Prop Collection

Building an essential prop collection takes time and patience. Never feel like you need to have everything before you begin your food photography journey. I started with what I had in my house. White and black plates and bowls were the foundation of my prop collection.

prop collection


Props are an essential part of food photography. They can make or break your food scene. Always ask yourself if you really need a prop before purchasing it. And if you can use it over and over again. We normally make the mistake of buying pretty things that we might probably use once or never. Always write a list of your essential prop collection and start purchasing and building it slowly over time. We can get carried away with buying props that we forget that the food is ALWAYS the focus. Focus on the food first and learn how to style it. Props are there to support your food scene and should never take the focus away from the Hero dish.


Things To Consider When Building An Essential Prop Collection

  1. Buy props that compliment the dish and does not over power the hero. Your dish is always the star of the scene. Think of props in terms of size, color, shape and pattern. The props should not be the first thing that someone sees . soup
  2. Just because it looks pretty does not mean your camera will see it pretty. Our cameras see things differently from our eyes. Don’t buy props just because they look pretty. Always take a photo of the prop before buying and see how your camera or phone views it.
  3. Go for texture. Cameras love texture. Texture adds depth and interest to your images. Choose things that have texture in them, the old and rustic the prop is, the better. Go for worn out props as they have beautiful textures and the camera will translate this beautifully.
  4. Go for multi-purpose props. Go for props you can use over and over again. Bowls and plates are fantastic for multi purpose uses.


Essential Props To Consider For Your Collection

  1. Ceramic Bowls and plates in neutral colors. Ceramic photographs beautifully. Pick bowls and plates that are neutral meaning the whites, browns, blacks and greys. This is essential especially if you’ve not identified your personal style yet. Bowls are perfect for soups, porridge and stir fry’s. Avoid plates and bowls in different colors and heavily patterned. As you advance you may definitely play around with these. If you’re in Kigali, you can check out Kigali Pottery Collection as they have the best ceramics and quite a variety (as seen below).
    . ceramic bowls
  2. Linens and napkins- Well places napkins help add dimension and frames your  scene. I must admit napkins can be tricky to work with. I’ve been following a guide by Murielle on how to style with napkins on Instagram . She shows different ways of folding napkins to add dimension and complete a story.



3.Rustic spoons, knives and. silverware. These are my favorite. they’re so easy to work with and can be used in almost anything. Whatever food you make you either use folks, spoons or knives.

4.Glass Jars, Bottles and Mason Jars- They are fantastic to add to the background of your image, to frame your subject and add a bit of foreground for a layered effect. Jars are perfect for puddings and drinks.

Food Photography Props That You Already Have

  1. Parchment paper – This looks good with baked things.
  2. Newspaper. I’ve used newspaper a lot in my photography. They look good with french-fries, baked stuff etc
  3. Cooling rack
  4. Any table in your house

I always buy my props from thrift shops and market. Toi market is a good place to start, just have an eye for rustic and old props and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty by sorting out the thrifts. A friend of mine also runs a prop shop  on Instagram where she sells both backdrops and props. Looking for more photography tips, check them out here.

I hope this will help you start your prop collection and I look forward to seeing your collections.

Love and Light,

Miss Kabaki.

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