How a Professional Food Photographer Uses Props in Her Photos and 4 Frugal Ways to Go Prop Shopping – Interview with Ilva Beretta: Part 2

Ilva Beretta and Panna Cotta

Few days back, we published part 1 of food photography interview with Ilva Beretta. We talked about how to choose the props, why we need props and how to collect them. In this interview we talk about 4 ways to build your food props collection. In this post, Ilva also shares her thought process of using props in her food photographs.

Let’s Welcome Ilva Once Again

As I said in previous part, this was one very informative interview and we talked for about 1 1/2 hours. The first part of this interview was published in audio format and I decided to publish notes for this part instead of audio interview.

4 Frugal Ways to Go Prop Shopping on a Limited Budget

In part 1 we talked about some of this. During our interview we talked about these 4 ways to collect props for photography. Below are these ways including some of my notes for explanation.

  1. Buy from thrift stores – Thrift stores are the best places to get the props for cheap. If you live in a country where thrift stores aren’t popular, be a little creative and find stores that sell used goods.
  2. Get it from your parents or relatives – This was the most amazing tips that Ilva suggested. Very often we forget that we can ask our parents, extended family and relatives for something like this, and possibly get this without any cost (okay! you should treat them nicely for rest of your/their life).
  3. Make your own props – Ilva also made her own weary looking cutting board. This is a great idea.
  4. Barter it – This year’s Food Blogger Connect event also had a “food prop swap” – another excellent way to share the love. Read more food photography tips from the Food Blogger Connect event.


How Ilva Used Props in Her Food Photos

In this interview we picked three photos and we discussed the thought process behind using props in these photos.

Hot Red Bell Pepper

The first photograph we talked about was Hot Red Bell Pepper Soup. Ilva painted the cutting board with white paint and ageing agent and used decoupage to create the crackling effect. In this case, this was hot soup, it had a strong color. And her goal her was to make the photo look cool. The soup has such a strong color. The reason Ilva used white background rather than red or orange or any other color is that white made soup stand out. Red or orange was hard to combine with this food subject. Her opinion is that usually light or dark backgrounds work better then most other backgrounds. “In this case, Red or yellow distract from the main subject. You won’t be able to see the soup.”

Butternut Squash

Then we talked about this photo. The butternut squash on black background – Dark velvet in the background to contrast with yellowish orange butternut squash. Ilva explained that the main focus was to show the form and color and it was so striking here that it was a good idea to use black background. White background or any other light background would have faded the color of butternut squash.

Panna Cotta

Our third photo was that of Pistachio panna cotta. Here she wanted to create a romantic atmosphere. And that’s why she went with the pink than completely white background. The color here was very pale so if only white background was used, this food would disappear. Also the pale green in color of Panna cotta, which in itself wasn’t interesting. Since her goal here was to create a romantic atmosphere or mood. She went with rose petals to enhance the photo. 

Favorite Food Photographers, Stylists, Books etc.

Ilva’s one of the recommendation is food photographer Marie Louise Avery. See her portfolio, it is very creative and unique. Great Inspiration.

Her food styling recommendation is Delores Custer. Delores recently wrote a fantastic book on food styling and it was out recently. From what I heard from Ilva, this book Food Styling is a great book and has very comprehensive tips for food styling. This book recently was available on Amazon at 37% discount. See the current price of the book here.

Another book that we talked about was Food Styling for Food Photographers. Food Styling for Photographers: A Guide to Creating Your Own Appetizing Art

Thank you Ilva

As I said, this was one great interview. We had a nice conversation was glad that Ilva was able to spend so much time with us.

Readers, Ilva spent a lot of time sharing her knowledge and expertise. I hope this was helpful to you. Make sure you say hi to Ilva on her blog or twitter profile (@lucullian). Connect with her.

Next – Matt Armendariz is Coming!!

I am totally excited about this one. Matt Armendariz from Matt Bites has graciously given us a pleasure to interview him. Tomorrow 7/15 I’ll be interviewing him starting 7:30 pm CST. Send the questions you would like me to ask him. Send them to me via twitter (@neellfp)

Please note: All images used in this post are copyright of Ilva Beretta. All rights reserved.