Food Photography Secondhand
I wrote this to be a part of Oxfam's Secondhand September, but before I could edit the photos and share it I got sick and went into hospital with a kidney infection. All better now so I'm sharing it anyway, cos I had done all the work. And secondhand ain't just for September its for life!
Secondhand September doesn't just have to be about clothes! You can totally shop secondhand for a whole host of other stuff, including books, records, dvds, games and homeware. When I started this blog I had limited supplies and had never photographed food in my life. I quickly realised I would be needing a few more plates, than the ones we already owned. I still use a lot of our home kitchenware, but I also have accumulated a little collection of props, cutlery and plates from charity shops.
All of the above were found in charity shops, all cost under a pound each!
Shopping for food photography props secondhand keeps costs down. I cannot afford to have beautifully bespoke handmade plates unfortunately, nor can I afford those beautiful wooden backdrops you see so many great food photographers using. But trust me if you are looking to get into the food photography game there is still plenty you can do. Most charity shops have a small homeware section, it tends to be towards the back of the shop fyi. I check those shelves every single time I walk into a charity shop, and I don't always get lucky. Sometimes they only contain chipped brown plates from the 70s, they look like something your nan has right at the back of her cupboard. I look for anything in good condition, with colours I feel will compliment food. Obviously it depends what you're making, but mostly I want props that aren't going to distract from the food just compliment it. So subtle colours and patterns are the way to go. Colours like green and pink always come in handy. Obviously you can check these shelves even if you have no interest in photographing food, you can definitely find some quaint homeware. If you are after that country cottage ecletic feel for you home, charity shops are a great place to start. My favourtie charity shop to find homeware in is Dalston Junction's Oxfam, they have a really large section and normally have something special.
Another great place to look for secondhand plates and cutlery is markets. Many markets have bric-a-brac stalls where you can pick up secondhand pieces. Remember though, Victorian silver spoons may look old, but they are ten to the dozen, and really aren't worth a lot of money. Sure buy yourself one, but make sure to haggle hard! Greenwich market is a great place to find secondhand homeware.
Camera equipment is a pretty important part of food photography, and one you can definitely achieve by shopping secondhand. Look on Ebay, Shpock or Gumtree for cheap secondhand cameras and accessories. Avoid Amazon if you can cos they don't pay tax, trust me we've all needed something last minute and given into a prime trial though, so don't feel too guilty. I actually use my mum's DSLR for food photos. I asked to borrow it when I started the blog, and well I've never given it back.
Lastly I thought I would let you in on a little secret; how I do backdrops. Not truly secondhand, but it does use up offcuts so I think it's a pretty sustainable alternative to expensive wooden boards. I buy wallpaper samples! They cost next to nothing, most places will only charge you shipping or about 99p a sample, and they make really great backgrounds. You can hardly tell in my photos that I'm not shooting on real wood. The samples are all offcuts and often have a little damage or marking on, nothing noticeable in photos, but enough so that they can't be sold as wallpaper. This sneaky cheat has allowed me to have loads of backgrounds, and really changed my food photography.