The first step towards a successful photoshoot is having great backgrounds and props. Now, I use these words interchangeably, because my photography style is more minimal and ingredient-focused. Smaller props like spoons and plates are useful in many situations, but I’ve found that you can create a variety of photos using minimal styling. Here I’ve focused on the main types of surfaces and backdrops I use in my shoots.

1.) PLAIN WHITE BOARD

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Why I Like It: I’ll start with my most useful background- my white bead board. I use it for the background in many of my shoots because it’s so versatile. The beading can give great texture, or the board can be more washed out for a clean white background. Mostly I’ll use it as a surface, but sometimes I’ll even place it vertically as a backdrop. I’ll shoot everything on it from granola bars to donuts. I love it.

Where To Buy: Best yet? I got two of these boards for $5 at Home Depot. Home Depot is a food photographer’s dream when it comes to backgrounds. You can find wood, marble, slate, and more. If you’re looking to buy a background, go to Home Depot.

Coconut, almonds, and chocolate come together in these health-packed Almond Joy Granola Bars! Gluten free, refined-sugar free, and loaded with flax and chia seeds.  Maple Bacon Donuts

2.) PLAIN BLACK BOARD

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Why I Like It: My plain black board is my next most-used item in the Broma background pantry. This board is great because of how rich the black is- it really makes things pop. So use it when you are shooting things that you want to stand out, like a triple scoop ice cream cone or a big stack of blondies.

Where To Buy: I got two of these guys at Michael’s. It’s technically a chalkboard, but really is just a black matte board.

Blueberry pancake ice cream that tastes like the blueberry pancakes of your childhood! | Broma Bakery  My favorite blondies recipe gets a twist with Gluten-Free Blondies. Because you can have your gluten-free, and eat it too!

3.) MARBLE SLAB

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Why I Like It: I’ve had my marble slab for years. The veins have slight blue tones that photograph beautifully. Fun fact: next to black and white, blue tends to photograph the most harmoniously with food. So as you’re hunting for a marble slab, make sure to look for ones with blue tones in them. Sometimes in post-processing I’ll bring up the blues to highlight them, like in my circus bark, and at other times I’ll keep them natural so they seem more of a blue-grey, like when paired with my oreo donuts. It’s super clean, and makes it look like I photograph on a beautiful marble countertop!

Where To Buy: I got this as a gift, but I’m sure you can find similar ones at TJ Maxx and Homegoods.

This loaded bark is made with graham crackers, pretzels, peanuts, toffee, popcorn, chocolate, and toasted marshmallows. Betcha can't eat just one!  Oreo Donuts | Broma Bakery

4.) RUSTY/ANTIQUE/DARK COOKIE SHEET

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Why I Like It: Rusty cookie sheets are one of my favorite things to photograph on. It makes the shot look rustic and organic, opposed to clean and sterile that a plain black or white background can produce. Some of my best shots have been photographed on rusty cookie sheets. I typically use this background when shooting freeform things, like a group of popsicles or samoa brownies.

Where To Buy: I would bet money everyone has one of these in their house! But if you don’t, head to your local antique store, or ask a relative if they have one they’re willing to pass up.

Honey Lavender Popsicles are perfect for summer, and at only 67 calories each, they won't kill your beach bod either!  In honor of National Brownie Day: Samoas Brownies. Brownies topped with a homemade coconut caramel sauce and drizzled with chocolate! | via Broma Bakery

5.) LIGHTER COOKIE SHEET

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Why I Like It: I’ve just started using my light cookie sheet more, and I’m loving it! Metal photographs really nicely against food because of how matte it is, and at the same time how much it reflects light back onto the photo. Just like in the lemon meringue cupcake photo below on the left, it can take on those beautiful blue hues, or you can place a piece of parchment paper over it for a light grey background like with the cookie dough on the right. I’ll shoot lighter things on my light cookie sheet when I don’t want them stark against a pure white background.

Where To Buy: Again, super versatile, and it’s probably a staple you already have in your house. If not, Costco has some great ones.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes: fluffy lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with a perfectly golden meringue frosting! Are you drooling yet?  Brownie_Stuffed_Cookies-5

6.) BLACK SLATE BOARD

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Why I Like It: This one is really fun because of its texture. Sometimes when my black matte board is too plain I’ll reach for my black slate board. Just like my rusty cookie sheet, it has a more organic feel to it, which can be a great contrast against rich things like chocolate or salted caramel.

Where To Buy: I got this baby at World Market. You can probably find similar ones at TJ Maxx and Homegoods.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart has a chocolate pretzel crust, salted caramel center, and is topped with melted chocolate, pecans, and sea salt. Uhm, swoon?!  Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream combines zesty oranges with sweet chocolate chips and a creamy vanilla custard base. Yum!

7.) WOOD SLAB

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Why I Like It: Wood is a great surface to photograph on. It brings in texture, lines, and different shades of brown. I’ve found that darker things work well with wood, as they pick up the darker tones in the wood. Often, I’ll pair my wood with a black matte backdrop to make it pop.

Where To Buy: I got some beautiful walnut planks at a reuse center. If you have one by you, check there first, or go to a lumber yard and ask to see their scrap piles. You don’t need something big- just a few feet long and wide.

This gorgeous little cake takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and is perfect for two people. Or one, because who's to judge!  Layers of chocolate chip cookie dough, caramel candies, and gooey brownies come together in Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies. Get ready to drool with this ultimate comfort dessert.

8.) COOLING RACK

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Why I Like It: My cooling rack does double duty; I use it functionally in baking and aesthetically in photoshoots. I love placing it against a white surface so the black lines stand out. I’ve found the best things that photograph on a cooling rack are things that are repetitive (donuts, marshmallows, cookies, fudge, etc). Everything comes together to create a structured composition.

Where To Buy: I think I got mine at the grocery store. Any kitchen supply store will do.

Baked chocolate cake donuts topped with a chocolate glaze and sprinkled with crunchy pistachios. Perfect for a weekend breakfast with family.  Chocolate Soaked Ginger Marshmallows | Broma Bakery

9.) PARCHMENT PAPER

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Why I Like It: I love shooting on parchment paper partially because it’s so easy and partially because it looks so good! It gives an amazing blur to the background that you can’t get on a plain white board. It’s almost like the surface disappears and all you see is the subject of the photograph. I’ll shoot on parchment when photographing darker things that I want to pop, like flourless chocolate cookies or a thin mint milkshake. Sometimes I’ll crumple it up to give it some texture, and sometimes I’ll lay it flat in two or three layers.

Where To Buy: Grocery store!

Fudgy and soft, these Flourless Chocolate Cookies will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth!  A Thin Mint Milkshake made with fresh mint, Thin Mint cookies, and vanilla ice cream. Perfect for St. Patty's Day!

10.) BROWN PAPER

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Why I Like It: Sometimes I’ll open up brown paper bags, crumple them up, and use them as a surface. They work well against black and white alike, and bring a little bit of color into your photograph. Warmth can be really nice in food photography, and brown bags bring a definite warmth to photos. I shoot on these when I want something with structure to look more homemade, like in both photos below of square brownies.

Where To Buy: Grocery store!

Blackberry cheesecake brownies that will have everyone begging for seconds  A one-bowl wonder that tastes waaay better than boxed brownies. You’ll never reach for another boxed brownie mix again!

17 comments

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Lovely ideas! Thank you for sharing.

Christine | http://www.DimesandDonuts.com

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All your photography posts are so helpful. I’m often snapping pictures while my daughter is helping me cook, so “minimal” definitely describes my styling efforts so far. These ideas make me feel like I can elevate things without spending a ton of time setting up a complicated scene! Thanks for the tips!

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Your photos are all so beautiful, so I will definitely be using all your tips, thank you so much 🙂

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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So glad that you’re finding them useful! Thanks, Jane!

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Wow your photos are incredible! Thanks for sharing these ideas 🙂

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Ashley! Glad it’s helpful 🙂

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Thanks for the tips! Definitely expanding my prop collection soon 🙂

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Thank you so much for sharing! Great tips that are also practical. Just starting to food blog so, I’m very appreciative : ) Plus yum….your brownie recipes especially.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Nikki! So glad you found it helpful. Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to see!

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These are such helpful and creative ideas! I wouldn’t have thought of half of these. Thanks for sharing!

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Love these ideas! I’m thinking about heading to the store tonight to pick up some more props:)

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You should upload a post similar to the one you had a snapchat a while back about using props in threes and how to place props in photos! That whole story was super helpful, but there’s no way to get that information back!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Omg thank you for following along with that! I will totally work on that!!!

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Loved reading this Sarah! Thanks for including all of the examples. Love your fresh eye and willingness to share your knowledge <3

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I just love your photos. Do you have any suggestions for storing all the props? I am in great need of help to de-clutter my kitchen. Your recipes are mouth watering.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Louise! Yes, I bought 2 Ikea shelves for all my props. You can see them in this post!

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This post really opened my eyes to make use of the tools I already have at home and never thought to use, like the crumbled brown bags, so genius !!

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