List of most used food photography props

List of most used food photography props

As part of the food photography book project that I’m working on, I’m spending a lot of time outlining and that’s time that I usually spend blogging. Anyway, that’s my excuse for this sorry attempt at a blog post. This has been a crazy week at work, and I’m actually writing this post from Nebraska and not my normal home town of Pittsburgh. I’m here on a multi-day shoot and last week I worked late until the evening three days. I’m pretty sure you really don’t care about that, so here’s what I have for you today.

I thought it might be a good idea to come up with a list of commonly used props when shooting food. A list like this will come in handy when preparing for you next food shoot or for when you need a last-minute idea. Sure, some of these items are obvious and probably don’t need to be mentioned, but others may be “just the right ticket” to fill a compositional hole or to add a little story to your next food photo.

When I’m in a jam for an idea, I just glance around the studio looking for a possible prop, but I’m thinking this list may come in really handy when planning for the shoot. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be referring to this myself, not too long into the future.

Like I said, I’m way behind this week and I’ll be putting this list in a better order for the book, but for now, I think this list may be of some value to you.


Individual sized plates /and bowls – All kinds and colors.  I find I use more 5″ or 7″ than dinner plates.

Serving sized plates and bowels

Tablecloths – All kinds and colors.  Plain and simple patterns are best.

Cheese Cloth – This is mostly for artsy fartsy shots….

Napkins – All kinds and colors.  Plain or simple patterns are best.

Wood surfaces – Antique and new table tops.  You can buy new wood at a one of those large box hardware stores like home Depot or Lowes.  Buy some stain and beat the items with a hammer to give them an aged look.

Stacks of plates – good for illustrating the concept of “party” and useful as a vertical compositional element in the top of a photo.

Silverware – All kinds, new and old.  It’s a good idea to keep some as scratch free as possible.

Bread baskets – All shapes and sizes, including wicker and wire types.  The wire ones are good for showing the bread through the rack.  This will help make an out of focus object, identifiable.

Cutting boards – used very often.  Get as many sizes and colors as you can.  I never use the plastic ones

Milk and Orange Juice pitchers

Sugar Jar – I never used one, but someone suggested this and it sounded like a good idea.

Fake Ice Cubes – One of my most used props.  Worth having several types.

Salt and pepper shakers – These make good compositional fillers

Utensils (wooden / antique?) These are good for “assembly” type shots.

Knife set – Good kitchen background element and you can cut stuff with it too…

Mixing bowls – good for “cooking or assembly” shots

Ramekins – Good compositional filler element for assembly shots

Baking pans –

Cake dishes – Good for cake or pie shots

Glasses of all kinds – Use all the time for table shots.

Coffee cups – Use all shapes and colors, including glass ones.  Rarely use ones with logos.

Gravy bowls

Mason jars – Good for Pinteresty type of shots…

Antique dishes and silverware – Good for Artsey shots.

Vases / flowers

Glass dishes

Measuring cups and spoons

Cork screw

Pizza cutter – Guess what this if for…?

Paper Bags – For kid’s lunch shots

Cooling racks – For cookies and cakes

Baking pans

Pans pots skillets – For cooking action shots



Wine crafts

Wine bottles

Craft paper / butcher paper / parchment



Storage jars

Chop sticks

Pizza peel

Pie pans

Sea salt


Cinnamon sticks

Recipe ingredients




Rolling pin

Pasta straining

Oil jar

Cheese jar glass

Cast iron pans

Hands / clothes

Candle holders

Colored bottles (for outside the frame)

Cheese graters

Wooden bowls


This little list is a work in progress, so if you have any ideas for props that I’ve missed, please let me know via the comment section of this post.


  1. Uthra Balakrishnan · March 16, 2015

    Mr. Michael Ray—–Its list with useful tips. There are small size colour paper back drop stands which could be also added for more effect with contrast according to the food item, and also small size artificial smoke producing machine to add effect of “hot appearance” of the item we make photograph..

    Your list exhibit your good knowledge and experience. Very good micheal. I like it.


  2. Tim Hill · March 17, 2015

    Bottles, different styles, clear, coloured, antique and new of different sizes.
    Spatulas, antique, new, wood.
    Lemon squeezers, glass and metal, antique and new.
    I have just finished a cocktail book so …. a matt brushed metal cocktail shaker , metal shot measure more glasses.
    Measuring spoons, measuring cups, various sizes, antique and new. Antique cherry stoner.
    Wire cooling racks.
    Pottery jars, jugs, Kilner jars.
    Cupcake cases ( decorated )
    Heart shaped coasters, mats and cocktail sticks with a heart on one end.
    More various kinds and colours of napkins than you can imagine you could possibly want.
    Handmade pottery.
    Wooden bowls hand made and different sizes.
    Cheese graters, antique, new.
    Christmas / holiday themed stuff
    More later

  3. Brian Preston-Campbell · March 18, 2015

    Acrylic and rubber ice cubes – pretty much the last fake items I use at this point!

  4. Jignesh Jhaveri · March 23, 2015

    Craig and Michael – I think you’ll are looking for Trengove Studios in Manhattan… Fantastic products and a great guy – Thomas Trengove!

    They are now by appointment only – but ship pretty much anywhere

    Trengove Studios, Inc.

    60 West 22nd Street 2nd FL
    NY, NY 10010

    Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm EST

    CALL TOLL FREE: (800) 366-2857

    Tel: 212.268.0020



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