Hi everyone! If you're here to get the recipe for the vegan pistachio milk green smoothie which I created exclusively for Heal's then please head over to their blog where you'll find some more images of the recipe creation process as well. The smoothie recipe was put together to show off one of the gorgeous Mervyn Gers Bowls which they sell at their flagship store on Tottenham Court Road in Central London. As those of you who follow along on instagram know, I have been a massive fan of anything Mervyn Gers makes and so this collaboration felt like a match made in heaven.
I often get asked about where and how I source my food photography props so, as I'm not sharing a recipe on the blog today, I thought I'd take a little time out to talk you through where I get my food photography props from and how I choose them instead. I hope this will be of some help to you.
When first starting out....
1. Use the props you've got.
When I first got into food blogging I just used the plates and bowls I had at home. It was a very cheap and easy way to get started and also helped me experience first hand why certain plates work better than others. For example, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the plates I used for my Spring pearl barley risotto recipe, but the simplicity of the plates let the food shine, which was all that was needed.
And whilst in South America I used these cute little bowls, which were the only ones I had to hand, to show off this easy vegan blackberry crumble. The bowls were mainly white, but had some simple detailing around the edges, which just worked for this particular shot. And - from my experience - it is simple plates and bowls like these that make a good recipe look great!
2. Buy cheap plates and bowls in simple, neutral colours.
If you feel as though you don't have any suitable plates at home or you are ready to invest a little bit of money in some basic food photography props, I'd advise to get some simple plates and bowls in neutral colours. Personally, I feel IKEA is a great place to start. I used their bowls in this blog post for my exotic kale salad and their plates in these shots of my apple and tomato chutney recipe. Apart from stocking some lovely white plates and bowls, they also sell simple black plates, which I used here. I am pretty sure they sell their basic plate range in numerous different colours. Personally, my style is quite simple and neutral, so I don't really step outside the white/grey/blue/black range, but I bet you'll find a colour scheme to suit your needs and own unique style.
3. Buying second hand on-line, at flea markets, charity shops, car boot sales or vintage stores
I must say, I only use online sellers to buy cutlery. That's because I like to see and feel plates, cups, pots and pans before I purchase them, but I'm not that precious about cutlery. Generally speaking, I buy 90% of the cutlery I use on the blog second hand on e-bay using terms such as 'vintage', 'antique' and 'shabby chic' to find what I'm looking for. I tend to buy large bundles, which works out cheaper both in terms of the cost of the items as well as cost of postage.
I've also recently discovered an adorable little vintage shop just down the road from me called Wild Horses, where I have sourced a few forks from. It's worth checking what's available in your area and establishing a rapor with the vendors so that they get in touch the moment something interesting comes in.
4. Buying ceramics on the high street
A word of caution: it is super easy to spend silly money on ceramics you don't need and will never use. Therefore, I strongly urge you to go through steps 1-3 and get to know your own style before you get to this stage ;). However, if you are serious about your food photography, the right ceramics can certainly take your pictures to the next level. Buying at better known specialist high street stores can be a good place to start as plates and bowls are carefully chosen for you and will always be on trend and of a high standard.
My favourite place to buy bits and pieces is of course Heal's, but I also love Nom Living (stunning stuff!) and West Elm. I tend to go for simple, neutral colours (do I sound like an old record?) but am always looking out for interesting textures or wonky rims, which I feel is what sets hand-made ceramics apart from factory made dinnerware; it's the detail that makes them worth the extra money.
5. Buying ceramics directly from the artists
Only after I really understood my style and knew what I was after did I feel able to buy ceramics directly from artists, usually at craft fairs etc. Generally speaking, I tend to follow 3-4 artists whose work I really like on instagram and then attend markets or fairs where they have a stall or visit their studio, which is a very special experience. When I go I often already have in mind what I'll be purchasing so I don't get too distracted or too carried away.
I'm not sure I would have been able to cherry pick the pieces I need without having bought via the high street first, but I'm just speaking from personal experience and you may want to cut out the high street, e-bay and IKEA all together and go straigt to your favourite ceramic artist.
As for the artists whose work I currently like most, it's probably Daisy Cooper, whose work I used here and here, Ana Kerin whose plates were used in this shot as well as here and here and House Doctor whose bowls were used here. A recent discovery that has made my knees go all wobbly is Eulalia Sayrach's work. I used her ceramics in this picture here and I'm sure there are lots more pictures to come in which I'll happily use Eulalia Sayrach pieces. So keep your eyes peeled ;).
If you want to know what props I've used in a particular shot, just tap the image on instagram and the prop sources will appear ;)
P.S. Want to find out about the workshops I am teaching? Then please head here to get all the details you need.
P.P.S. Want to learn more about food photography and prop styling? Then join my FREE instagram photography challenges. They happen three - four times a year. To make sure you know when registration opens, please join the mailing list below.