6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

When I first started blogging, one thing I really struggled with was choosing the right props. Either they were too expensive, they didn’t match my other props, or I thought I needed them, only to have them sit unused for months.

So to help other bloggers and food photographers out there, I created this handy guide on where I source my food photography props on a budget. Because you don’t need to have hundreds of dollars to create a cohesive, well-rounded prop collection.

In addition to sharing my top places for sourcing budget-friendly props, I’ve scattered in some tips throughout the post that should help you make the right choices when it comes to choosing props. Happy propping! 

1. Antique stores are your best friend

Some of my favorite props have come from antique stores. The trick is finding the right antique store. When I go to high-volume antique stores, the prices are dramatically inflated. I’ve found that the best budget-friendly finds are from antique stores in the middle of nowhere. I got this sifter in northern Michigan for $8, this antique scale outside of Boston for $30, and this pie tin from a hole-in-the-wall place in Western Mass for $5.

One reason antique props are so good for food photography is that they add a weathered element to food photos. Clean, mass-made ceramics don’t evoke the same feeling as a banged up enamel plate that quite literally shows years of use on its surface.

The best antique props I have are metal-based. I just love the rusty, worn look they add to my photos. Next time you’re at an antique store, look for background props, opposed to just plates and bowls. Cookie sheets, scales, and pie tins are versatile and totally worth it.

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

2. So is Etsy

Similar to antique stores, Etsy is a great place to find older, shabby-chic props. Some of my favorite Etsy pieces include this ice cream scoop ($9), this antique tray ($5), and a variety of antique utensils. Similarly, independent prop sellers like Propped have phenomenal, one of a kind pieces sourced by professionals, for professionals. I just recently sourced the pink glass plates below from Propped, and can’t wait to shoot a spring cake scene with them.

Etsy is a great alternative for those who live in areas where antique stores don’t have good selections. Plus, it’s great to be able to communicate one-on-one with sellers. Often, if you find a store that you like, you can reach out to the owner to ask if they have more items they haven’t put up for sale yet. Score!

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

3. Crate & Barrel has the best linens and mugs

70% of my linens are from Crate & Barrel. They are cheap ($5-10 each), and come in a variety of muted neutral colors that work well for food photography. Linens are a low-cost way to instantly add texture to food photos without taking away from your subject (I used the Dark Natural Linen for these muffins, the Grey Striped Linen under these pancakes, and the Indigo Linen in this cake post). When in doubt, throw a linen in there.

In addition, Crate & Barrel’s wedding section has gorgeous plates, bowls, and mugs, all of which you can buy individually- just ask a sale’s associate. My two favorite collections are Welcome Dinnerware  ($5-13 per peice) and Wilder Dinnerware ($8-13 per piece). I typically get 2-3 of each piece so I have a variety of looks for a fraction of the cost.

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

4. Scope out World Market for Cake Stands and Glassware

When it comes to World Market, I’ve found that their glassware is some of the best-looking for the price. These glass jars ($3.99 each) are perfect for things like pots de creme. And I put milk jugs in the background of about everything (similar here).

World Market is also a fabulous place to get unique cake stands. All four seen below were purchased from World Market, though they weren’t available online when I searched for them. When looking for cake stands, keep size in mind. I don’t like bigger cake stands, as they end up looking bulky and awkward in photos. So I stick to cake stands no wider than 9 inches in diameter. And I almost always go for a neutral color so that my cake stands out.

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget! 6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

5. Target is a goldmine

Ever since Target introduced the Threshold Collection, I make regular Target trips to check out their goods. The entire collection is slightly rustic but still minimalist, making perfect props for a food photography collection. I recently used these bowls ($4.99 each) to shoot Ambitious Kitchen’s Golden Turmeric Soup. I haven’t used these serving bowls ($32.99 for a set of 2) yet, but I absolutely love them.

Things to be on the lookout for at Target: ceramic bowls/plates, utensils, and larger items like cake stands and salad bowls. Target also has gorgeous condiment/dip bowls. I use both this marble one  ($8.99) and this wooden one ($5.99) all the time (seen here in my DIY Facemask post).

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

6. Amazon has surprisingly good stuff

Did you know that Amazon has some awesome food photography props? I’m love shooting this glass caddy (similar found here for $25). And I recently shot these enchiladas for Skinny Taste in this enamel roasting pan ($29).

The trick is finding props you really like that are made by multiple companies, then searching for them on Amazon. For example, that glass caddy was $40 at a nick nack store in Boston, and only $25 on Amazon. You can find similar enamelware from places like Falcon for two times the price, but if your’e just using it occasionally, Amazon is the way to go. So if you’re willing to do some searching, Amazon is a fantastic source for cheap props.

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

7. Store it all on an IKEA shelf

I have two metal shelves from IKEA that make for perfect prop storage. I absolutely recommend making a home for your props, as having ample room to spread everything helps to visualize your shoots. Plus, it makes for a pretty awesome statement piece.

6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!       6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!6 need-to-know places for sourcing food photography props on a budget!

45 comments

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Great post! I’ve struggled in the past with finding props that didn’t break the bank but also added some character into my photos but I’ll definitely be hitting up some antiques markets soon!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Yes! That’s a perfect place to start. Thanks Grace!

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i never thought to look to etsy for props! great tips!! i also didn’t realize you did so much work for other bloggers – it would be really interesting to know how that part of your business evolved! xx

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Hi Jess! Yes, it’s a great part of my business. I just love being able to shoot for other bloggers, as it gets you out of your own “head.” Thanks so much!

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You have such a good eye for these things! Props are honestly the MAIN struggle I have when planning for a shoot. Thanks for the blogger love!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Oh girlfriend it’s taken me so long to figure things out, and I still don’t fully feel like my collection is there yet. Hope this gives you so good starting inspo!

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so many helpful tips, can go from sunshine to antique and from “early barnyard rustic” to “city chique”.
i also love how they look so perfect on the Ikea shelving.
love your office!!!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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I should hire you as my descriptions writer. Thank you!!!

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Totally agree!! All my most favorite staging items, and in general items came from antique or thrift shops. Every now and then I like a newer item, like a cake stand. But definitely love the hunt for worn items that say ‘i’ve been used’. Nice post!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Yes, that’s exactly it- “I’ve been used.” Love it! Thanks Lindsay!

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Thank you for posting these tips! My prop game is weak af and definitely in need of some love. Great post!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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It takes time, but is so important to consider with food photography. Thanks so much Jamie!

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afternoon- There is not one item in this post that I could not use in so many of the designs we prepare for clients. I have been admiring your cake stands for months. Thanks for the source. Plus I now know why the food blogs I like best are photoed by you. Of course they are!-Laurel Bledsoe

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Awwww! Thanks so much Laurel. Your comments always brighten my day.

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I love your prop storage, and these are such great tips! I’m a huge etsy fan but had never thought of Amazon for props-great idea! 🙂

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Laura! Yes, Amazon is a secret gem!

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Thanks Sarah. This post is awesome and so helpful for future prop finds!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thanks so much Tori! So glad you enjoyed 🙂

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Ohh girl these are genius! I’ve found that stripping away a lot of my props helps me focus in on the ones I love more, but I still need to round everything out.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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I totally agree on stripping away a lot of things. And it gives you an excuse to get more 🙂 hehe

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The closest c&b and world market are both like an hour away from me. I go nuts like 2 times a year in both places. <3

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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RIGHT? Same here on both accounts!

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Great idea for a post Sarah! Totally wish there was a World Market by me! Love Crate and Barrel!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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I know, mine is about 45 minutes away. Sometimes I make a special trip for it, though. Ha!

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Prop shopping is always a favorite thing to do of mine! Great tips.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Coming from the best prop collector I know, I SO APPRECIATE THIS! Thank you Naomi!

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Love all of your props! Target always has the best $5 cake stands that are usually on the smaller side. Antique stores are definitely the best!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Isn’t Target just an all-around magical place? Love it!

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You are the QUEEN of props! LOVE this!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Omg stop! Thank you Jennifer!

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This guide is epic, and I love how you display your props! I’m moving out of Manhattan in a couple months and we just bought a house where I’ll have my own office again (YAY!) and I’m totally buying those Ikea shelves.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Oh you absolutely should! They’re just gorgeous, and I love the glass shelving. Can’t recommend enough!

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Don’t forget Dollar tree. White plates, foam core, holiday props and much more.

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Oooh, that’s a fantastic idea Darryl! I’ve got to make a trip 🙂

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haha! This post!! I can relate to everything you said. Etsy and vintage store are totally your best friend. Loved this post!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Tieghan! Your prop collection is so killer, I’m so glad you enjoyed this!

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Thank you for these resources! So helpful for someone starting out!!

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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So, so glad to hear that. Thanks Rezel!

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I LOVE how you’ve displayed your props as art! And, yes, the resources are great too 😉 but it was the display that caught my eye! thanks

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Thank you Judy! So glad it was helpful. And I love the display, too! Ikea for the win.

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I love all of your tips and suggestions!! Your display is beautiful!! home goods has some really great finds as well 🙂
I love your copper wire basket, where did you find it?.. If it’s ok to ask

Sarah | Broma Bakery
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Absolutely! I got it from CB2. You can find it here.

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Sarah, I love your clean, minimalist photography style and am super interested in joining your next workshop! Thanks for all the suggestions here, never thought to look at Etsy!

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