How to choose props & backdrops for a mood&vibe in Food photography

Hello there, let’s talk about autumnal food photography today!

September is here, friends! That means that all our Instagram feeds will be filled with vintage vibes, golden hues, and apple tarts! Now the summer is finished, it’s time to bake cakes again, harvest some delicious September fruits and veggies and cook or bake something with them.

For lots of food photographers Fall is their favorite season, and the mood and vibe of this fall season are more appealing to them. I can understand why! It screams coziness, time to crawl under a blanket, and drinks a delicious hot chocolate with mini marshmallows! Our feeds will change from summery vibes to darker moods in no time! And to quote my lovely friend Birgit: We are like fashion – a little ahead in food photography.

With this first blog for my webshop, I wanted to give you a look into my food photography world and inspire you on what food photography props and backdrops you can use for the upcoming Fall season! Are you ready to dive into the world of food photography?

So first let’s talk about the mood setting and how to make a mood board:

Let’s make a mood boards that helps your creative flow in food photography

Have you gathered your inspirational pictures through Pinterest, a magazine, or Instagram and made a mood board? Let me show you the one I made and how I created the pictures I am showing you throughout the blog.

When making a mood board, remember that it’s someone’s work that you are using as inspiration. So do save it under the name of the artist and tag them if you are using the mood board on your social media channels. Find the links to the used images in this backdrop below this blog.

And now ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the Fall season for me?
  • What memories do I have about Autumn?
  • What do I like the most about this season?
  • Which colors do I see when thinking about the fall?
  • What props and backdrops shall I use?
  • What kinds of produce is grown where I live?

As you can see on the mood board the fall season for me is all about colors, brown & soft golden hues, soft earth tones, and a vintage vibe. A bit of blue represents the cold weather. And not to forget some bright colored produce, like mandarines, carrots, oranges, or even pomegranates.

So I created for you a graphic to show you the colors I have used for the picture below. As you can see the 4 chosen colors come back throughout the whole image. This is always very handy to do when needing to know which colors to use in your picture.

Access my template here, this is made for instagram 1080×1080 pixels, but you can change the format as you want if you want. It’s very handy to use this for inspiration!

Second, let’s talk about backdrops and which ones to use in food photography.

The fall season is not a season for bright/colored backdrops. Those might take away the attention of your main hero. Or it might even clash. The best solution is to choose a softer earth tone color like a painted or plain wooden backdrop, a stone backdrop will do wonders too. You can think of a tabletop backdrop, even a door backdrop, or even real wood like you table that you have at home.

The backdrop that you see in the picture below is a picture of a door I took in Murcia. At first, I was a bit skeptical first of this backdrop would work, but when putting the freshly baked cake on the backdrop it looked phenomenal!

Can you see how the dark colors and the broken pieces in the backdrop compliment the styling and the cake?

And when looking at the picture below, the cozy autumnal breakfest scene, would you think it’s a real table or a backdrop? It’s a real table, and to be exact it’s my father-in-law’s old desk! The only thing is that the wood of this desk is untreated and absorbs all kinds of liquids, and as this is my desk too I decided to take a picture and print it as a backdrop! I want to save this beautiful desk.

Do you understand what I mean by choosing the right backdrop to give the right vibe in your food photography pictures? It’s all about trying out which backdrops fit the best with props when styling your idea.

Third, which props to choose in food photography

The Autumn season is not bright and airy at all, it screams dark and moody, coziness! So it’s time to put the summer bright and airy props back in a box and take out the stuffy old vintage props!

Produce is also props. For me, September reminds me of its vendanges, which means ‘harvests’ in French. And I remember those days when the grapes were harvested to make wine, plucking apples in my neighbor’s garden and plucking raspberries along the roads.

What is being harvested in September? Mostly apples, berries, onions, beetroots, pears, pomegranates, carrots, figs, broccoli, stone fruits, and more fruits and veggies. so it’s always a great idea for a trip to the market to buy some seasonal produce to use in your pictures! Of course, harvests and crops produce depend on where you live. See how I used those apples in the picture below? They are brownish/orange-green, which fits the picture perfectly!

So now let’s take a look at what props like napkins, plates, and utensils to use. Here in this picture, I choose golden forks from a store and golden spoons that I found at a thrift shop. And a very old butterknife, that might be as old as me right now.

I didn’t use napkins because I felt it might make it too busy, but I did add a sugar clamp to add some highlights. Napkins of earth tones might have fitted in this picture, or even broken white, but it’s all up to you. The plates are from terracotta and have this deep orange-red color that I love. Even though I am not a fan of the color red, this color fits the autumnal food photography vibe perfectly.

Remember that less is always better, and when I made the cozy autumn breakfast scene I was only trying to show how to use terracotta in your pictures, as I sell those on the webshop. So I just went with my creative flow and created this scene with all I could use to display the terracotta plates, mugs, and cazuelas. After when editing this series of pictures I fell in love with it! And I cannot wait to redo this scene but this time with a new camera, the option to tether, and how to use composition overlays!

Don’t forget sometimes to add some negative space, to create a more serene and peaceful vibe in your pictures. Let me show you one picture that I made when creating a demo for the door backdrop.

Here I just used some paper pages, old vintage golden spoons, some peeled almonds, and a dish from Texturit that I won in a giveaway. I left the right side empty as I wanted to use some of the pictures with text to create publicity pictures for the webshop.

See how sometimes we can capture beautiful images with almost nothing in the scene?

Fourth, which equipment to use to create an autumnal feeling in food photography

Where I live it’s sunny all day and it’s very difficult for me to ‘fake’ autumnal weather, And that is when diffusers, black painted wooden board/carton pieces come in handy.

Here in this picture, you can see how I block the light so that the vibe becomes a bit darker and the shadows more intense. This is what I wanted in my pictures: rich shadows and an early sunlight vibe.

I was holding another black-painted wooden board on the left side when taking this photograph so I could block the light even more. You can even diffuse the light source to make the light softer, but I am all about hard light. Luis bought for my birthday a diffuser cloth, which is very handy to use on windows!

When it comes to moods and vibes in food photography it’s all about equipment and how to use them creatively. You can use diffusers but also anything dark. And not to forget, you can always alter and edit the mood in post editing the picture. There are tons of ways to do that and that would be for another time, friends!

Let’s recapitulate what we learned today about Autumnal food photography

First off create a mood board: set the tones and vibe you want for your photos. Second, find the right backdrop that will fit the vibe and idea you have in your mind. Third, props, produce, and more: gather all props that would fit in the image in a box and play with them when photographing.

Fourth, block the light if wanted with a diffuser or something dark.

It is also very important when buying food photography props and backdrops to know which one to buy! Ask yourself this: will it fit perfectly with a picture, or that it will end up in your closet to never be used? It’s even better to save your money by not buying all the props you see for something you want to have.

And now the most important rule in food photography: have fun!

I hope this blog was helpful to you. There will be more blogs coming and if you have any questions or need some advice, let me know!

Have a great day, friends!

Links to the pictures used in the mood board: