Ilva at Lucilian Delights has started a series called Food Props on Sunday and she has invited bloggers to join in her reflections on the props that surround food in our photos. I can’t resist a bit of navel gazing!
I feel that I should start with a disclaimer. I am not in the league of Ilva and her guest posts. I don’t have a studio or an SLR camera or cupboards devoted to ‘props’. I don’t have the time or patience to take photos of breathtaking beauty. Most of my meals are photographed hot in the minutes before eating them.
On the other hand, I have taken so many photos of food in the three years since starting this blog that I have learnt a thing or two. Probably the most important thing for you to know about my food photography is that it is a window into my world. I take delight in the curve of a pumpkin or the sheen on an apple but I find that my personal life can’t help but creep into many of my photos.
The plates and bowls that I serve on are ones that we use in our daily life. When I have time to set up a photo, I usually look around my house for inspiration. Sometimes it is an ornament, sometimes one of Sylvia’s toys or even a suduko puzzle.
So when thinking about food props, the entire contents of my house seems to be my box of props, though first port of call is always my kitchen. First decision is often a plate, a bowl, a casserole dish or a tea towel. I love colour and patterns. I love bold and pretty and funky. Very few of my crockery is white though my kitchen is not as colourful as I would like.
Some plain colour is useful. When it comes to background, I struggle to keep the clutter at bay. Some days I use the back of the oven or white walls for background. Tea towels, pillow slips and chopping boards have been requisitioned at times. Though I often take close ups where only the inside of the bowl is visible. If I do have time, I will often arrange food on one of the rugs, in the backyard or on the kitchen floor. (Unfortunately my kitchen table is in a dark corner and rarely is used for photos.)
Many of my kitchenware was purchased before blogging. But not all. I rarely buy anything for the kitchen these days without thinking about how it might appear in my food photography. No matter how long I have owned a dish or ornament, when I use it I often find myself filled with memories. I remember who gave it to me or where it was purchased, or when we used it in a dinner party in a student household. Occasionally I even take photos at other people's houses when the food is shared or prepared there. It gives some new views but most of all captures the memory of the occasion.
If I have the time, energy and sunlight, I sometimes choose some quirky item to appear in a photo alongside the food. It is often a reminder of that moment in time. A new toy received as a gift, a teething ring that Sylvia has needed that day, a tea towel I have just bought on holidays. I fear that the photos mean much more to me than readers but I hope that we can all enjoy the fun.
As you will have already gathered, friends and family are often present in my photos, whether through gifts or memories. Some are more present than others. I have a blog policy of no faces but I do love hands. They are so expressive. Often Sylvia is around when I am photographing and her pudgy little hand makes its way into the photo. I love capturing the ephemeral in photos - a gesture, packaging, peels or a scribbled list.
So Ilva, you have asked about my food props. They range from anything that will prevent my soup being a puddle on the floor (to paraphrase Bron Marshall), to the ornaments on the shelves in the loungeroom, to Sylvia's toys, to the backyard plants, to a wee curious hand. My food props are full of colour, of fun, and of meaning.