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The festive season is fast upon us. Do you have a food blogger or photographer in your life but are stuck on a gift that won’t break the bank? Luckily, food photography is one genre where prop lust is never-ending. You can buy helpful and attractive gifts for food photographers that they will love – many under $50 bucks.
Here are 10 ideas for gifts for food photographers that are sure to please.
Every food photographer has an arsenal of napkins in their collection, so they can be ready to create any mood in their images. Napkins and other textiles go a long way in creating a visual story, and the wrong choice can make an image feel a bit off.
This is where linen saves the day. Not only does its natural and fine texture go with virtually any setting, but it also drapes well, which can’t be said about a lot of other fabrics.
If you’ve ever tried to make a napkin look effortlessly placed, you’ll know why propping napkins is the bane of every food photographer’s existence. Linen makes this job a lot easier.
It also photographs well, because you don’t get the significant color shifts you can have when taking pictures with other fabrics.
There are a lot of great sources to buy linen online, but you can also head to a popular home retailer and pick up a few for a reasonable price. Places like Crate & Barrel sell them individually, so you don’t have to buy a pack of four, which will likely be three more than are really needed. Choose neutral colors like grey, cream, or light and navy blue.
Whether vintage or new, there is something about a French cutting board that adds a bit of pizzaz to an image.
Food photography is all about using layers to create interest. Placing a dish on a cutting board is a great way to style an image or add a bit of context to a scene.
French cutting boards make great gifts for food photographers but they can be expensive. However, many stores like Homesense carry them at very reasonable prices.
Every food photographer needs a couple of cake stands. A neutral color and on the smaller side is best.
Cake stands are useful for showing off a beautiful cake, of course, but they can also be used to prop other sweets, like stacks of cookies or even an arrangement of fruit.
A cake stand adds height and can be a prop that improves a composition without competing with the food.
To make the cake stand extra useful look for one with a detachable base.
Vinyl backdrops created specifically for food and still life photographers have become more and more popular with photographers in recent years, as an alternative to heavy and expensive custom-made backdrops.
The selection of manufacturers selling vinyl backdrops used to be fairly poor, but now there are some new companies selling high-quality backdrops in beautiful designs.
The backdrops offered by Captured by Lucy are under $50 USD in 2×3 feet, and come in a variety of colors and designs that work great for food photography. They lie flat as soon as you unroll them.
Vinyl backdrops are great for containing spills or working with ice and drips.
If you want to get a bit more bang for your buck, you can try the backdrops and Ink & Elm. The quality is decent and the price more affordable, which means you can purchase a few for your budget.
One of the biggest challenges in propping food photography is the size of glassware these days. It’s way too big.
Scale is a very important aspect of food photography composition. In addition, objects can appear a lot larger to the camera than they actually are. You can really notice this when you shoot a scene from overhead because it flattens the depth.
As a food photographer, you don’t want your props dwarfing the star of the show – the food.
Vardegen glasses from IKEA are the perfect size for food photography. The ridges make the glass less reflective, which makes them easier to photograph, but they are translucent enough to look attractive in photos.
Look at the foodie posts on Instagram, and you will invariably come across a carbon steel knife with a rounded wooden handle. This style of knife has become ubiquitous in the food photography world. It adds such a nice touch to a food scene without distracting from the major elements. It looks great with other modern or vintage props.
Several manufacturers make this kind of carbon steel knife. Pallares Solsona is one brand that can be bought through many sources online for a reasonable price.
A key to capturing great food photos is to work tethered in Lightroom. This is where you hook up your camera to your computer via a USB cable so you can see a larger and more accurate rendition of your photo on the screen than you can get on your camera’s LCD screen.
This cable is called a USB 2.0 to Mini B. Tether Tools is the brand most trusted and used by pro photographers everywhere.
When searching for this type of cable, it’s important to purchase one that has gold tips, so they don’t get corroded easily.
We said that scale is an important factor in food photography. Salad servers that are small enough can be difficult to find. You don’t want them hogging up your frame and detracting from your beautiful salad.
Amazon offers some lovely acacia wood servers with your choice of gold or white handle that is small enough for food photography and looks attractive with a variety of foods and props.
Also, the wood is not too orange, which is a color that tends not to translate very nicely in photos when it comes to props.
Can a food photographer ever have enough pinch bowls? The short answer is no. Most of us tend to have a large inventory of these in a variety of materials and colors.
Because they’re so small and perfect for displaying ingredients and seasonings, they add context to a food story and help create balanced compositions without overpowering the main subject.
Look for pinch bowls in ceramic, glass, wood or marble. Neutral colors work best, but sometimes patterned pinch bowls can look great if they are used with care. You can find pinch bowls everywhere, but the white rustic pinch bowls form Nom Living in the UK are crazy popular with food photographers and Instagrammers everywhere. They will make the perfect gift for a food photographer.
Every food photographer needs at least one resource on food styling at their fingertips. Even food photographers who work with a food stylist need to know how food behaves in front of the camera and be familiar with the tips and tricks that make food look its best.
Photographers who take on commissioned projects often have to do their own food styling, as do those who submit to stock sites.
The Food Stylist’s Handbook by Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan is an indispensable resource and a great gift for a food photographer. It not only shows you how to style specific food for the camera, but it also gives you the information on the tools you need and how to build a styling kit – something every food photographer or blogger needs.
Hopefully, these gifts for food photographers will solve the problem of what to buy for a special someone in your life. And, just remember, you can’t go wrong with classic props in neutral colors, and textures like linen, marble, and natural wood.
Do you have other gift ideas for food photographers that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments section!