Food photography PROP COLLECTION {tips on how to build an essential prop capsule}

LET’s talk PROPS, PROPS, all things PROOOOPS related! It’s a HOT topic among food photographers! Understandably though! Props are an essential part of food photography. They can make or break an image and help us to tell the story in our photographs.

If you feel confused with how to choose the best props for your food photography or the props are taking over your entire space (I have heard from photographers who keep their props even under the bed!)  – this post my lovely creative is for you!

I know exactly how you feel – I have been there myself. I spent  £££ on pretty props and I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t make my food images look…..ehm…..pretty.Not to mention that I was very quickly running out of space.
So I sent myself on a MISSION!!!!! Mission to build an ultimate Prop Capsule Cupboard with items that will work EVERY.SINGLE.TIME!

So let’s dig deeper! 



Don’t panic! I am not here to tell you to get rid of all of your props and that you should photograph on a couple of plates only from now on! If you have a prop hiring place near you – good for you and I am jealous that you can hire different props for your projects. But I know for many of you out there, including me, this is not an option, so I am here to encourage you to pick your props more mindfully and rethink your strategy when it comes to using props in your images.

I truly believe that less props means more creativity. Because CREATIVITY NEEDS SPACE TO BREATHE! And the truth is that too much choice will only make us feel overwhelmed! And confused.
Let’s imagine for a second that you have your dream studio 🙂 It’s filled with ALL the props that you’ve always dreamt of, in every single colour, shape, pattern and size. Feels amazing, right? But then imagine, you’ve got a project to shoot, and you have unlimited possibilities when it comes to choosing props! It would take hours to decide what to shoot your dish on!!!

Being limited can actually work magic on our imagination and creativity – so I really want you to embrace these limitations. Plus, let’s be honest, if you have too many props to use, you will forget what props you have anyway!


Building an essential prop collection takes time. And patience! So please don’t feel like you have to have everything RIGHT NOW. You really don’t need much to create amazing food images. Wanting more is only an illusion anyway. You never reach that place when you say – ok that’s enough 🙂 That’s just how our beautiful brain works – always wanting more.

Write a list of your essential prop collection and build it slowly, and intentionally. When it comes to props, as in other areas in life, go for quality over quantity. And they really don’t have to break the bank – I found my favourite timeless pieces in different charity shops and car boot markets for a couple of pounds! Have your eyes wide open!


That’s the advice I would give my old self. I was so excited about using props, that I simply forgot about the food I was shooting.  No wonder my photographs always looked like they were lacking something! My props might have been great but the food on my photos certainly didn’t look appetising. Focus on food first, and learn how to style it. Props are there to support the story of the dish – but the dish should always be the shining star!


Is it just pretty to me, or will my camera find it attractive too? 🙂
Will I use it often? Can I use it with different dishes?
Do I really need it?
Do I already have something like this?
Where will I store it?
Do I love it?
Will I love it later too?

Ps. And just to be clear, my prop cupboard doesn’t always look that clean lol 🙂


1. PROPS SHOULD COMPLIMENT THE FOOD – Props should never be the first thing the viewer is looking at (except that the viewer is a photographer or a stylist!And these two will never miss a unique prop!lol). They should never distract from the dish you are shooting or to be overpowering – your dish is the main star.  Think about it when it comes to size, shape, pattern and colour of your props. ALWAYS choose what compliments the food.

2. NOT EVERY PRETTY PROP WILL LOOK PRETTY IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS – I made that mistake before, I bought something because it was beautiful, but it turned out it wouldn’t work in my photographs. The camera sees things differently to our eyes and not everything pretty will look great in front of the camera. Get to know your tool and learn how your camera sees props.

3. CAMERA LOVES TEXTURE – Texture adds life, dimension and depth to your images. This is something to consider when choosing the props you work with. Light picks up the texture beautifully and it adds interest to our images.

– something that never goes out of fashion, is not too memorable and works with everything for every occasion – just like little black dress 🙂

I used the same props in these images and as you can see they work with different dishes, and different moods. See the small bowl right there? In first picture it’s filled with pesto, in the second with yogurt and in the third with sesame seeds. It’s the same bowl, but when filled with something different it becomes a different prop. Same with a little jug – in picture one it’s filled with oil, in the second with maple syrup. I used the same plate in the second and third picture too, but it has a different purpose. It’s all about those items that you can use over and over and over again. But because it’s not something too memorable, and the dish is the main star, the viewer won’t get tired of seeing the same thing.

5. ITEMS YOU CAN MIX AND MATCH WELL – you want to create a cohesive set where all items work great together but each item can be photographed separately too.

In this waffle image here, each prop comes from a different place. The cutlery and cooling rack are from different vintage stores.  The flowery plates were bought in a charity shop, a plate with a pale pink rim(left picture, bottom corner) is from Ikea, and the textured one (left picture top corner) with a golden rim from TK MAXX. In addition,the little pink bowl is from Sainsbury’s and the linen from H&M. They all work great together as a set, but I could use them separately too.


A hero prop to me is something that will work with every single dish and will help with telling your story. So for example my vintage icing sugar sifter will work with EVERY cake I will ever bake and will add an essential detail to my photographs. A hero prop could also be a knife,that will work with both sweet and savoury. Cutlery, that again, you could use with every dish. A cooling rack or a really nice wooden chopping board. A hero prop should be something one of a kind, a very unique item that will reflect your style too. These items usually take a long time to source! That sugar sifter for example took me few years to find! I really encourage you to write a list of your essential hero props, that will both reflect your style and tell a beautiful story in your images, and start hunting 🙂

My list of essential hero props for a baking story would look like this: rolling pin, knife, pastry brush, cooling rack, vintage teaspoons, icing sugar sifter, nice baking pans.


I love bringing the ingredients into the frame to complete the story of my dish. Something that was used in the recipe or something you can serve the dish with. This might sometimes require getting more ingredients that the recipe includes – but it’s not like these ingredients are ever wasted. Including a human element will add a lifelike quality and will add a beautiful detail to your images too. Think about what other elements you could include in your photographs.A chair pulled out, maybe? This could be a nice way to invite your viewer and say ‘come over and sit down with me’?


The cake stand in the first image is not a cake stand really 🙂 It’s a bowl that has been turned up side down and a plate placed on the top of it. It is a great trick, but only when your viewer can’t recognise it straight away.  In the blueberry bun image I used parchment paper as a prop because I didn’t have plates that would be small enough and proportional to use with them. I loved how this image turned out! Sometimes you just have to think outside the box and get creative!


Using props can be overwhelming sometimes! And too distractive! You start playing around with props and stop focusing on the most important thing in your photograph – food. Sometimes you might also feel you don’t have props that go well with a certain dish.
So, I highly advice you to sometimes leave the props on the side and focus on the food only instead.  Something I always do on my Workshops – is to encourage others to try to create an image with no props or limit the amount of props in the frame. It really is a great exercise to focus on the beautiful details of food and to notice the magic!

Here are some of my favourite prop places:

@nomliving – check out their stoneware collection
and I recently discovered this lovely lady! @naked_dye

If you are looking for prop inspiration – check out my PINTEREST prop board.

So,tell me about your favourite prop place!? And any prop are you hunting for right now?
I have been looking for a vintage fine mesh square or rectangle cooling rack and a vintage cherry pitter for ageeeees!!!!

AND BEFORE I FORGET! SAVEUR BLOG AWARDS 2018 NOMINATIONS HAVE STARTED! You can nominate your favourite blogs here.
Of course it would mean the world if you feel I deserve a nomination too!

Warm hugs,

Bea x



Debbie’s roasted onion and asparagus tart

I am so thrilled to introduce this veggy spring tart to you guys, a recipe that was created by my wonderful friend Debbie from Salted Mint blog.

I’ve known Debbie for few good years now and she never stops inspiring me with how she pairs the flavours and comes up with genius food ideas!

She joined us at ‘The art of food stories’ Workshop that I hosted along with Rachel Korinek at the end of April, to cook a storm in the studio’s kitchen and feed 11 incredible women that attended the event. We had a blast! And the food was out of this world!!!! You know those kind of recipes that you try for the first time, and they spoil your taste buds so bad that no matter what you do, you cannot stop thinking about their flavours. Every single dish was exactly that.

Debbie prepared for us a gorgeous cheeseboard, the farmers market green salad with lemon and poppy seed dressing, slow cooked beef and 4 cheese lasagne (with a phenomenal secret ingredient – cinnamon!!!) as well as the ROASTED ONION AND ASPARAGUS TART that you can find the recipe for in this post.


What I truly love about this recipe (as well as the flavour!) is that it takes 10 minutes to make (!!!), 20 more minutes in the oven and you have an insanely delicious dish, that celebrates seasonal ingredients, ready on the table in less than half an hour. WINNER!

Do you love food photography? Interested how I made this background?
Check out my super easy tutorial ——> here

Why I didn’t want ‘The art of food stories’ WORKSHOP in London to ever end?RECAP.


There is something truly *MAGICAL* about a photographer on a learning mission- the curiosity, playful spirit and the uplifting energy that fills the room. There is nothing else like it.

There is something sooooo INCREDIBLY SPECIAL about the in-person workshops- the *real* connection you have with another creative- the connection that even 100s conversations online won’t be able to top. That’s the reason why I LOVE teaching at Workshops SO MUCH but also it’s a reason why I decided that I want to attend creative workshop soon too.

‘The art of food stories’ was a magical event thanks to the incredible photographers who flew from all over the world to join me and Rachel Korinek at the beautiful RYE studio in London. They left me all so inspired!

I am SO GRATEFUL I could meet you all lovely people❤

@claudiagoedke @supergolden88 @_kitchenstory_ @saltandserenity @aniasvibrantkitchen @maria.panzer@shecooksandclicks @leiliane @fotografsara @instaproperfoodie

THANK YOU for your infectious positive energy

Photo taken by @jonathanthomsonphotography/ Edited by me

It was such an honoured to teach this Workshop with my incredible friend who flew all the way from Vancouver to make it happen. It was a dream come true.

Those of you who’ve been following my journey for a while probably know that Rachel Korinek and I planned a workshop together before. To be more precise – it was last year,in New York. We have known each other for over 4 years online, and our friendship that started from one shy email that went something like ‘Hi, I love your work’, flourished into heart to heart conversations. Having lived in two opposite corners of the world, we always dreamt of working together… day. After 4 month of planning a New York workshop, that one day was going to become reality in August 2017. Then something unpredictable happened…something none of us could have ever expected….exactly a week before my dream flight to the Big Apple I’d sat in my doctors office to hear the heartbreaking news: I had to have an urgent surgery and there was no way I could fly anywhere. The New York workshop took place as we planned and was a great success but very sadly I could not be part of it.

BUT GUESS WHAT? 🙂 We are stubborn! If the dreams that we work so hard on, are not turned into reality, WE TRY AGAIN. And this time the DREAM CAME TRUE….we made it come true… London.

                                                                                                                                              Image by @twolovesstudio

                                                 image by @twolovesstudio

2. Because the conversations about the magic of light ARE SO DAMN INSPIRING.

A very ‘typical’ English morning welcomed out attendees, who travelled from all different parts of the world –  England, Germany, Norway, Austria and even from San Francisco. As it was a very cold and grey day, we gathered around with cups of warm rose tea in our hands (THANK YOU @jeangtea!) and started the workshop with an introduction of what brought us all together. Here we were, connected by this deep passion for food and photography, a moment that felt so right, like it was all meant to be.

The first part of the Workshop was dedicated to the magic of natural light.

Because….the magic really happens the moment you stop taking pictures of your dishes and start taking pictures of light.

Rachel explained the fascinating details of dynamics of light, ‘the sweet spot’ to shoot in and best methods to harness the beautiful light in food images. When you look at Rachel’s work, the first thing you notice is the way she captures the light and it was so captivating to listen to how she creates that magic in her images. I covered – my absolute favourite – storytelling part and showed everyone how to use different light to evoke different emotions, how it helps to create different moods and grab your viewer’s attention. To me, a great photograph is always the one that your viewer can connect with, the one that your viewer can ‘feel’ rather than just see.

Our mission was to inspire everyone to play around and experiment with different types of light, and so after the inspirational conversation we jumped into practical exercises.

We  both believe that to harness the light in your images, you need to learn to ‘see’and ‘experience’ it first.

image by @claudiagoedke
 image by @twolovesstudio/                image by @supergoldenbakes88   

both images by @aniasvibrantkitchen

3. Because our taste buds were spoiled rotted during lunch time

Our dear friend, and a chef extraordinaire Debbie joined us during the day to cook a storm in the studio’s kitchen. There is no words really that would describe how INCREDIBLE this woman is, not only has she got extraordinary cooking skills, she also is one of the sweetest and most humble people you can meet. It was so special to have her at the studio with us.

Debbie prepared a gorgeous cheeseboard, the farmers market green salad with lemon and poppy seed dressing, roasted onion and asparagus tart with buratta, slow cooked beef and 4 cheese lasagna (with a phenomenal secret ingredient – cinnamon!!!) as well as the mouthwatering desserts: salted chocolate tart, farmhouse buttermilk strawberry & rhubarb tart aaaaaaand brown butter and orange blossoms short breads.


To give you a gimps, here are two recipes you can find on Debbie’s blog – Salted Mint – roasted onion and asparagus tart with buratta  and farmhouse buttermilk strawberry and rhubarb tart. I can assure you,they will make you addicted to hers blog – I have been for years!

                                                                       image by @twolovesstudio

4. Because compositional tools are such a game-changer. 

The second  part of the day was all about the magic of COMPOSITION and how to create breathtaking food stories.
Rachel walked everyone through her favourite compositional tools and how she creates a WOW effect with her minimal style. And she knows how to do it! It was fascinating to listen to how she breaks down every image and how she chooses every element of her story with intention, so that the image doesn’t look forced. She mastered an art of observation and generously shared how everyone can do the same.
I took everyone on a storytelling  journey.I shared how I bring my images to life and which compositional tools I choose to create that 3D effect in photographs that are 2D by nature. I talked about small details that are often overlooked but are essential to creating eye-catching images without them looking flat and staged.I was so excited to also share how I see the colours and explained why it’s so important in creating emotions, and how to pair colours for eye-pleasing images. We also chatted about a topic that makes every food photographer’s heart beat faster- props!And here I shared all my secrets away of what’s the best way to build a minimal but very powerful capsule prop cupboard, without breaking the bank.

5. Because I could style and shoot with like minded creatives all day every day.

After a buzzing conversation we all jumped into live demos. Rachel showed everyone how she approaches styling, how mindful she is about choosing colours and how she looks at shapes as she worked with these gorgeous veg bowls in the picture below.

The difference between a good photograph and a great one is all in the details guys!

Choosing my yogurt raspberry cake as an example,I shared a step by step of how I create a scene from picking the backdrops and props that will enhance the food rather than distract from it, to how I add depth to my images, how I pair colours to create a certain mood.

It was so amazing to watch everyone jumping in with their cameras and taking different angles of the same dish as we would encourage everyone not to stop until they exhaust every possible angle.

image by @claudiagoedke

all images by @twolovesstudio

6. Because no one would judge you if you climbed the window sill to take a picture 🙂

image by @claudiagoedke

Anything for a good photo! No one was even surprised to see Rachel at the window sill. That’s what I call a group of like-minded creatives 🙂

image by @claudiagoedke

7. Because of generous support from my favourite people.

HUGE THANK YOU to my FAVOURITE BRANDS who jumped with excitement to support this event and who were so generous to provide gifts for our attendees. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART:

@l.typeprints  Thank you so much for providing your GORGEOUS prints!!! It was so wonderful to teach on printed examples of our work!
@nomliving You know how much I love you guys! Your ceramics are always my favourite and they photograph so beautifully!
@linen tales Thank you sooooo much for sending your super soft linens as a gift for our attendees and others to play with at the workshop.
@london_honey_co Thank you so much for sending your sweet and super cute jars of your delicious honey!
@jingtea That rose tea!!!!My absolute favourite!
@inspiredlifediary Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful stationary and inspiring quotes – I love everything you create.