How to Select Props for Mouth-Watering Food Photos – Interview with Ilva Beretta

Ilva Beretta Food Props

Props play a very important role in food photography. Today we have someone who loves collecting food props. From borrowing it from parents to ripping off the door, she shares her expertise with us on collecting, choosing and using props in food photography.

Let’s Welcome Ilva Beretta

Ilva (@lucullian) is a freelance photographer (see her portfolio here) and mainly in editorial and stock photography. She writes at Lucullian Delights and posts recipes on the blog. She wrote series of food props posts called Food Props on Sunday. These posts have great information. Read about props for background, using plates, drinking glasses and cutlery and finally a whole post on textiles like tablecloths, kitchen towel and napkins.

I had a great time talking to Ilva. She is so passionate about food props and I was enjoying talking to her that the conversation that was supposed to last about 45 mins went to 90 mins. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview.

Unfortunately, the recording set up went bad and the output got lot of crackling and clicking and after some kung-fu kicks I was able to save the photo to only a certain degree. Following player has edited audio with some level of cleaning, there needs to be some more done.

Press play to listen to the interview. Please note this version of audio file has some crackling and click sounds at higher volumes.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Why Do You Need Food Props?

Props make food photographs better and create an atmosphere and environment for a photo. Props create a setting or mood in photos that makes viewer think about what photographer is trying to communicate. Ilva gives an example of a red sauce on brown plate that makes photo look bad.

Creating Prop Collection in Minimal Cost

When you don’t have too much space and limited budget, you can concentrate on some universally used props. You can go with some white plates, some spoons and forks that can be used on most variety of food photos. Once you have this, you can buy various colors, textiles and different type of glasses.

Be resourceful and try to look at things you already have. There may be some items in your house that can be used as a prop.

How to Choose a Good Background?

Selecting a good background is important for making a mouth-watering photo. Background should be select such that it enhances photograph. Unsupportive background run the photo. Like the example above, red sauce on brown plate does not look good. Similarly the  background needs to be selected by thinking about color of food,

How to Select Props for a Dish

Start with color of food and then decide on plate and then think about cutlery and background. The objective here is to emphasize food so food should be prominent and everything else should be supporting food.

Try several options. It’s a process so change your cutlery or background or other props to see what looks best on your food dish.

Camera sees things differently than human eye. So train your eye to see like a camera when you are taking pictures. Until then, look through the viewfinder to see how the photo make look like.

Full Interview Notes Coming Soon

In the next week, I’ll post the remaining part of this interview, where Ilva talks about two of her favorite photo and tells us how she photographed them.

Thanks Ilva

Thank you Ilva for spending time with us and sharing your knowledge on props and how to use them in food photography.

Readers, as always, would love to hear your comments about this.

If you are visiting here for the first time, don’t forget to read/listen our interviews with Matt Wright, Aran Goyoaga, Adriana Mullen, Editor of Tastespotting, Clare Barboza, Liz Vidyarthi, Meeta Khurana and Mowie Kay

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