When I first started food blogging a few years ago, I had no idea how important different props were for the food and photography. I started just using the ugly square dishes in my kitchen and quickly realized that if I ever wanted to get better with photography and blogging in general, then I would need to invest in some food props – aka, new dishes and glasses.
After this revelation, I really struggled finding the right things to incorporate. I started out buying things that I thought looked good or just whatever was on sale (girl cannot resist a good sale). I also struggled with the price of some things… who knew dishes could vary in price so much or be so expensive?
After food blogging for a while, I've learned what works with food and photography and what doesn't. Most of those first buys have since been donated and now I try and collect pieces that are classic, don't tend to go out of style, and work with the food and photography.
Since I've been food prop shopping for a few years now, I decided to put together I little list of some of my favorite places to find dishes, glassware, and all the food photography props.
Also, since I love finding a bargain and cannot resist a good sale, I truly believe that you don't need a ton of money to create a great prop collection that will work for you in whatever stage you're in.
So here's my list of all the places I find food photography props – with some links to where you can see some of the props in action.
TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, or Marshalls
These stores are my number 1 for a reason: they have an amazing selection of unique dishes and glassware and they are a great price.
These stores are definitely a hit or miss but when it's a hit you can really find some great stuff. These stemless wine glasses are from there as well as these gorgeous blue plates and this cake stand.
Be on the lookout for: glassware and unique dishes.
Target is a no-brainer for me and whenever I'm there I always find myself walking towards their home and kitchen section. They have such a great selection of dishes, and even everyday linens, that you can find just about anything you might need for a great price.
Their dollar section is also perfect for finding cute, unique, disposable, or very seasonal props like these paper ice cream bowls or these little black tins or those fun paper straws you see in all of my drink posts.
Be on the lookout for: ceramic bowls/plates, glassware, utensils, condiment/dip bowls, and salad bowls – or disposable/seasonal stuff from their dollar section.
I first discovered the gloriousness that is World Market when we lived in South Carolina. Once we moved here to Michigan, there wasn't one close and now I have to drive an hour to get to it. But I will happily drive that hour just to find some great props.
I found these gorgeous black bowls from there, these mini trifle bowls there, and they have an amazing selection of linens in just about any color you can imagine – this blue one is my favorite that I've found so far. I plan on picking up some of these little glass jars next time I visit.
Be on the lookout for: unique bowls and plates, glassware, cake stands, glass jars, and utensils.
Crate & Barrel
To be honest, I've only been to Crate & Barrel twice but I fall in love with more and more things every time I go and have to reign myself in when I'm there. They have such a great selection of everything that you find yourself getting sucked in and shopping for hours.
I got these stemless martini glasses from there and a bunch of great linens. Most of the linens come in muted or neutral colors so they make the perfect prop for food blogging. I can't wait till we make the trek to Chicago again so I can find some more things.
Be on the lookout for: everything – really. They have a great selection of plates, bowls, mugs, glassware, and especially linens.
JoAnn Fabric, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby
You can go in there and search the scraps or off-cut section for deeply discounted fabric that makes for a perfect linen in your shot. I have a bunch of scraps and different color burlap that I got on my last trip that are just waiting to be used the next time I'm shooting a recipe. Just make sure you stick to neutral, muted tones.
Be on the lookout for: seasonal items, straws, scraps of linen, and burlap.
Amazon, surprisingly, has some great props and for a great price. I found these moscow mule mugs for super cheap and many of my everyday Pyrex cooking dishes have come from here as well.
You can also grab hard-to-find things on Amazon as well – like these wooden scoops. I had been looking for something similar for months when I decided to take to Amazon and found them instantly.
The trick with Amazon is finding something that you like in person and then searching for it on Amazon to see if you can find it cheaper. Those mugs I originally saw at Target but they were sold individually and for about $15 each. I took to Amazon and found a set of 4 for $30 total. Win.
Be on the lookout for: everything and anything you want to find for a little bit better price. Not everything will be cheaper but a lot of the time you can find a great deal for the same thing.
I have such a love-hate relationship with Ikea… I love to hate it because I don't really ever need anything from there but I always end up leaving with something.
In all actuality, I do really love Ikea.
That being said, Ikea has a ginormous selection of dishes and props for food photography. I got this gorgeous glass bowl from there as well as just about all of my cutting boards – this big one and this little one – and some servings trays that work well for containing ice for drink shoots.
Their square shelves and bookcases are also the prefect thing to grab to store all your props on. I have the KALLAX 4 x 2 square shelf that I use to store all my props with 4 open shelves for the dishes and glassware and then BRANÄS 4 baskets for all my linens and straws and other random props.
Be on the lookout for: dishes and glassware, serving bowls, and shelves or bookcases for prop storage.
Local Hardware Store
I found some amazing faux marble contact paper at my local Home Depot not too long ago that I absolutely love. It looks like marble but it doesn't (obviously) have the weight or take up the space of real marble.
Antique Stores and Fairs
Antique stores are a gold mine for great old and unique pieces that you won't be able to find anywhere else. I went to the antique fair this past fall here and found a bunch of antique silverware that is perfect for photography because it is dull and tarnished and won't show reflections. I also picked up a few serving and pie tins that are beautifully worn and antiqued that I cannot wait to shoot with (winter problems) this summer.
The thing with antique stores is you have to find the right, little mom-and-pop stores and you have to search the shelves. Some of the things I have found were always at the bottom of the pile or somewhere in the middle but definitely not at the top.
Be on the lookout for: used cookie sheets, silverware, servings platters, and pie tins.
So there you have it – my extensive list of places that I find food photography props. You can find a bunch of great things for a great price and not have to spend a lot of money.