10 Inexpensive Food Photography Props

April 6, 2023

Heather Barnes

10 min

What I have learned most about food photography is that the pictures I gravitate to the most are the ones that contain layers, texture, and dimension. The layers of props give the photo strong visual interest, yet don’t take away from the main subject- the star of the photo- the food! I started my food photography journey with a white foam core and some bowls of yogurt, and quickly learned, that there needs to be more added into it to create an eye catching, mouthwatering photo. There are so many props you probably have laying around your house already, and a few you should definitely add to your prop closet! Here’s a list to get you started!

Foam care

Buy two white and two black. Around 1 dollar each. I use my black card for fill to create more shadows and depth, and my white one to bounce more light onto the subject if it is too dark. I always buy two extra to paint a coat of chalk paint and try and create a new backdrop.  They can also be great for photos with hard light as shown below.

Parchment Paper

Great for crunching up and using under fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I lay it over an old baking sheet, and you can see the stains through the paper which provides more interest.

Baking sheets

I’m embarassed to say, but I don’t scrub my baking sheets after using them. I love the interesting spills and stains they have. Layering wax paper or parchment paper, the stains slightly show through and give great contrast to the food! Check out my Farberware board I’ve had for years!


Yes! I have used a white lace dress as a background. Shooting straight on, and blurring out the background, the fabric creases created a nice dimension to the photo, instead of a stark white background. So before you take that clothes to goodwill, check to see what could work behind a piece of pie!

Pillow cases or sheets

They aren’t as finicky as those linen napkins that won’t lay pretty and always wrinkle! I lay a pillow case over my table and it looks like a textured table cloth. I have a pretty grey one, and I think it adds so much dimension!


Go outside with a pair of scissors and prepare to forage! Clipping interesting looking leaves and berries can add a naturalistic feel to your photos.  Nature is your best resource! Get outside!


Especially older cookbooks. I sometimes tear out the pages that look a little stained and layer them underneath a bowl of pasta or granola. I love the way old text looks on a more modern backdrop.

Vintage Cutlery

Antique silverware is gorgeous. I’m a huge vintage collector and love going antiquing on the weekends. I always look for matte silverware to avoid having to fix a glare on a shiny spoon.  If your grandma doesn’t have any you can borrow, try estate sales and antique stores outside of your city. You’ll get a great deal!

Powdered sugar

It is great for dusting cookies, or cake, that need an extra layer of something. Or just to sprinkle it around a bowl. Even white sugar on a white marble background gives so much texture! See the sprinkle around the peanut butter cup below!

Cutting boards

You don’t need a massive piece of plywood for a backdrop if you’re shooting a piece of cake or some small cherry tomatoes. Old, beat up cutting boards can be the perfect size to zoom in and shoot a tomato! I have a few light wood colored ones, and a darker walnut.

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