The Crazy Kitchen: How to Create a Food Photography Studio on a Budget

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Friday, 4 July 2014

How to Create a Food Photography Studio on a Budget

Let me start by saying that I'm by no means an expert in the area of food photography, but I am trying to improve my photos, and that means trying to improve my food styling.

I've found the perfect spot for taking photos in my kitchen but as it's not backing onto a wall it's not always easy getting that perfect shot without some kind of kitchen appliance or clutter in the background.

I browsed the internet to get ideas for backdrops and various surfaces and found that backdrop stands can be quite pricey so decided to improvise buy buying a cheap clothing rail, for just £8.99. I found a roll of wood effect wallpaper for £11.99 and a pair of jumbo clips for £2.95, and that is all I needed for my makeshift studio. I already had a roll of white wood effect sticky back plastic to use as the backdrop, although I need to replace it as it's looking a little creased now (£5 from Wilko's), and a sheet of white polystyrene which I use as a reflector.

A couple of behind the scenes shots..

Food Photography Studio on a Budget Food Photography Studio on a Budget

It's amazing how something so simple can make such a huge difference to your photos. As all the light comes in from the conservatory side of the kitchen it can create shadows on one side of the subject.  I have overcome this by using a piece of polystyrene packaging that came in a parcel, which I propped up against a bottle of water, but you can buy a set of collapsable reflectors from Ebay for around £8. The pictures below of a bowl of nectarines (and a loom band nestling between) were taken on exactly the same camera settings with the only difference being the reflector, which was used in the second shot, reducing the shadow on the right of the fruit.

Food photography : reflecting light

I still need to do something about the reflection of the conservatory roof but I'm working on that.

I am amazed at how a couple of little changes, has improved the look of my photos, and since I started blogging they have gone from this (2011)

 photo DSC01090.jpg

to this (2012)

 photo turkeymilanaise.jpg

and this (2013)

 photo schwartzbolognaise_zpsb2bfdeab.jpg

to this 

peppered Steak

It goes to show that you don't need to spend a lot of money kitting out a studio when you could have everything you need around your home - old rolls of wallpaper in the loft, a clothes rail in the spare room, a few clothes pegs.

I now need to visit a few charity shops and car boot sales to pick up some props to add to my small collection of plates that I recently bought from John Lewis.

Where to buy

Clothes rail : Argos or Ebay £8.99
Wallpaper : Ebay £11.99
Pair of clips : Ebay £2.95
Reflectors : Ebay £8.00
Roll of white wood effect plastic : Wilkos £5.00

so, for under £40 you could set up your own little food photography studio. Don't ask me what I'm going to do when the nights start drawing in though, other than photograph everything during daylight hours.

20 comments:

  1. I love this post, thanks for showing how you do it :)

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  2. Lots of fab tips here - I love the roll of wood effect wallpaper! *goes to B&Q*

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  3. without a doubt the best food styling post I have read. Thank you so much: I always felt such fear and intimidation I didn't even try but now, i shall dig out my Argos clothing rail and have a go!

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  4. This is a great post, thanks for sharing. Will have to try this out to try and improve my photos!

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  5. love this post lol you know i do the same thing but i love your idea of a fake table that is genius and i will go hunting for the same now. ALso just a high 5 for the pics from start to finish i know i have similar on my blog lol

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  6. Thanks for sharing your fab ideas. I use a white canvas board from Hobbycraft as a light reflector but I love the idea of using wood effect sticky back plastic for the table. I take my photos on our coffee table which is oak but I'm going to hunt around for some different props to change things up a bit.

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  7. Love this post, i am always looking for different back drops and this post is so so helpful. i use foam boards from hobby craft as my back drops and different colour fabrics from Ikea.

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    1. great ideas - my fabric always looks creased & I'm too lazy to iron it!

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  8. A really lovely post Helen and love the stages of your own food photography. I like the idea of the clothes stand and as I have a spare one will try that out!! and must get the vinyl - so much easier to store than planks of wood.

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    1. thanks Nazima...and yes, so much easier than planks of wood, I just need to find some more styles now!

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  9. You have really changed since the 'photographing your cutlery' era in All Bar One. ;) hehe. It's amazing to see all our transformations in photography since we started! This is a great post. x

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    1. thank you Katie...you will never let me forget that night will you! ha x

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  10. Really inspiring post Helen and I love seeing your journey in photos! They are looking so gorgeous :)

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  11. Smashing ideas here Helen - when the winter draws in I tend to do this but on a table in the garden! And yup I look like a loon...

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    1. I may shift into the conservatory then, less loon like! ;-)

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  12. Brilliant post thank you. I had been moaning to my husband for ages that I needed to buy a decent white wood table as a backdrop but the wallpaper idea is ingenious! I ordered it straight away and it's arrived already. Testing it out today and I love it, thank you thank you thank you!

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  13. Really great job. For me, it's not the lighting, or backgrounds or surfaces or props or tripod or reflector but the worksurface (or table) space to set anything up. I can't get down onto the floor so that's out too. But I agree wholeheartedly that you do not need to spend loads to create a good set up!

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  14. Simple really is the best isn't it? Thanks so much for sharing, this is amazingly helpful as I too am always trying to improve my skillz.

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  15. That is amazing *runs off to order clothes rail*

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