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DIY food photography is based on a budget

The post DIY Food Photography Props on a Budget first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

With the rise of Instagram, every meal has become a potential subject for a photographer. We share our food through photos like never before and higher quality images get more preferences in the world of #instafood.

But how do you create that stylized look with your food photos if you have a small budget? Not everyone has the money to create an entire styling set of crockery, linen and backgrounds. ' Necessity is the mother of the invention & # 39 ;, as the saying goes, so let me tell you about a few creative ways in which I have let the money go a little further when it comes to food photography.

Take the suggestions in this article as a starting point and be creative with your own ideas. Bring in skills that you already have (or would like to learn) in your quest to make your food photography on a budget!

Buy your house

It may seem obvious, but you will be amazed at what you can find at home (or in the homes of your friends and relatives). The best thing about shopping your home is that everything is free! Now take a minute to look around your house and see what you already own that may work for food photography.

The kitchen is the first place to start – but don't just stop at crockery and cutlery! Old baking trays make beautiful backgrounds, and interesting glassware can provide a lot of detail in a blurry background.

Do not neglect the bathroom while shopping. More than once I have put food on a (clean) soap dish that was beautiful in color or texture. From the living room, vases can hold a freshly cut flower for a food photography scene. Bedrooms are a treasure room full of trinkets, baskets, boxes and fabrics (more than one evening dress has found its way to my photos as a textile element). Finally, check the outside – weathered old plant pots or interesting pieces of wood can really bring your food stories to life (once scrubbed, of course).

In the same way as when buying your house, don't forget to visit your local thrift stores regularly! The staff in my local stores know me so well that they now set aside interesting cutlery, linen and ceramics for me. Moreover, each item costs very, very little compared to buying new.

Create backgrounds and surfaces with interest

When you set your scene for a formatted food photo, the background can really take or break the photo. You can purchase pre-made background boards that are specially designed for photographers who replicate different structures. They are very good, and I use them often, but they are also quite expensive! Although homemade plates do not replace textures such as wood or marble, they can be very effective for correct recording.

Above: pink stripes made with a child's foam roller.
Below: blue, black and gray emulsion paints applied with a kitchen sponge.

Go to your local DIY store that sells sheet materials. You can buy multiplex sheets there. If you're lucky, the store will also cut these plywood sheets into manageable chunks, either for free or at minimal cost.

It is extremely cost effective to create backgrounds using these boards as a basis. A multiplex that is 2.4m by 1.2m costs around £ 25 here in Great Britain and that makes eight neat 60cm square boards. You can also paint both sides, so it comes to around £ 1.50 per background (plus whatever paint you use).

I usually use cheap paint samplers for creating backgrounds. Don't be limited to brushes for applying the paint – a sponge is my favorite tool, closely followed by children's toys! Go bold with your designs; Once you have blurred the background with a small aperture, you will not see any small details. Experiment with colors – dark backgrounds can be just as interesting as light backgrounds.

Build the set

After you have made a number of backgrounds, place one on a table next to a window and support the other vertically behind a window like a wall. You now have a table set for a fraction of what it would cost you to buy special backgrounds that are offered to photographers!

Floor tiles used as backgrounds for food photography.

While you are in the DIY store buying your plywood, you can also view the floor section. Very often, DIY stores will sell monster floor tiles for people to try at home. For just £ 1.50 I bought all three floor tiles in the pictures above. The plates are often quite small, but if you shoot close-ups, they can still work very well (they are also good for jewelry photos).

Adapted table linen

Nice linen can help to make a pop-up of food. They feel luxurious because they are something that you usually only use for special occasions. And if you do not pay attention, you will often find linen with unusual textures on the fabric or beautiful edges along the edge, and these can help you elevate your recordings to something very special.

Two different colors of linen fabric used for food styling. Consider the mood in your final image when selecting colors.

At their most basic, table linen is just a square of interesting (or not-so-interesting) fabric. To make the simplest DIY napkin that really has a beating, go to a fabric store that sells tailor fabrics. Take a look at the selection of their linen. You are looking for something heavy with a lot of texture and you need half a meter of fabric. Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut it into a large square (you should get at least two of a half meter of fabric) and you have made your first designer napkin!

You can turn over the unfinished edges and sew with a matching thread or start pulling the threads to fray them. Both styles give your shots a different look, as you can see in the pictures above. Think of color when you buy fabric; it can really make a difference to the mood of your recordings. I recommend that you first buy neutral colors and then look for colors if you have good basic knowledge.

Many stores sell a ' thick neighborhood ' of textile (it is a meter of fabric cut horizontally and then vertically to make a rectangle). These cuts are the perfect size for a single oversized napkin. Once you have built up a supply of beautiful, flat napkins, you can try to do something more complicated.

Decorate your DIY props

As you browse the designer home stores, you will find that table linen often contains intricate details, such as trimming or sewing by hand on the edges. Go back to the fabric store and this time look for some matching finish that matches a fabric that you have.

You can sew the border around the edges of your napkins, or you can do some textile glue on it. Foodstyling props for photography do not have to be perfectly functional; they just have to look good on the camera! Make sure you organize your props in such a way that any errors are faced away from your camera!

On the photo above is white linen. The linen was made with very cheap white cotton fabric with beautiful pompomtrim sewn along the edge. It cost me a total of £ 3. Considerably less than buying the nice version I saw in a store! Photography has everything to do with illusion. If the trim is particularly expensive, buy enough to go around two edges. You can style it when you shoot, so that the other side is not displayed.

The proof is the pudding

Every good photo of food measures success by the amount that your viewer wants to eat the subject. I followed my own advice: shopping at my home, creating backgrounds, fabrics and trimming, and then I photographed the results.

For less than £ 15, I have compiled two completely different food photography sets that I can use again and again. Moreover, the bonus is that if I don't like the backgrounds in the future, I can paint them over and over again!

Now it's your turn; try to build some props yourself and take some food photos. I would like to see what backgrounds and props you make for your photo shoot. Maybe you can apply a skill that you already know and make something very special that you just can't buy in the store.

Please share with us in the comments below.

The post DIY Food Photography Props on a Budget first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Charlie Moss.

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