Top 10 Vintage Food Props for any Photographer or Stylist.

Below are some of my most essential vintage styling pieces. Whenever we are shooting food or lifestyle photography these are consistently our go-to props.

In looking through my many years of recipe photos and blogs, I have realized that I definitely have a few vintage props that I love to use over and over again.

I love for my photos to look approachable, authentic and lived in vs. looking overly styled and perfect. My go-to vintage props are classic and functional and I have been able to use these items for various recipes and entertaining occasions. I have compiled a list what I believe are my top 10 favorite food props to use for my food photography and I am excited to share them with you.

Many of the props I use are vintage because if you know me, you know I’m all about vintage items. I love how each item is perfectly unique and beautiful and I believe that helps capture our mission in every photo we take.

If you’re looking to start or refresh your own vintage prop closet, here are my favorites to have on-hand :

1. Vintage Silverware :

Vintage silverware is one of my favorite things to hunt for at vintage shops. Whether simple or beautifully ornate, each piece of vintage silverware brings so much personality and edge to my photos. I feel that they embody the look of an “heirloom,” are full of character and each piece has its own worn patina that photographs so much better than a brand new, shiny piece of silverware.

vintage silverware heirloomed
vintage silverware heirloomed

2. Vintage Serving Glasses :

I think anyone who reads my blogs and sees my instagram posts can attest to the fact that I have gotten much use out of these go-to vintage glasses. I love everything about them— their shape, their size, their detail. From puddings to ice cream to cocktails, these serving glasses have been my go-to prop for my photography. I love to source coupes, sherbet glasses, and tiny juice glasses that have unique crystal cuts and details.

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vintage glass heirloomed

3. Vintage Pie Server :

There are certain pieces that people tell me again and again they love because they remember their Mother or Grandmother using them. These vintage pie servers are one of those items. They are rustic and perfectly detailed with decorative cut outs that really pop when I use them in my food styling. I have been able to use these for many photoshoots for cakes, pies, casseroles, and cornbreads and always love how they turn out in pictures. I use these all the time.

buttermilk pie and vintage pie server heirloomed
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Click here to shop our full collection of Vintage Goods for even more prop ideas

4. Cake Stand :

A vintage cake stand is the perfect element in your prop closet to use as a center point for a table setting. I love these vintage cake stands because of their simple details that add to the photo but do not take away from the food it is holding. A classic cake stand is essential to have in your prop closet for all those yummy, beautiful cakes. I tend to go for the glass versions, but also have a variety of silver and white ceramic pieces in my arsenal for different yet classic looks.

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A beautiful vintage cake stand by heirloomed collection.

5. Mason Jars :

Oh, the classic mason jars. Truly, everyone should utilize mason jars in their homes but it is also a must-have for a prop closet. I have found so much use for them throughout my house and its one of the first things I think to grab from my prop closet each time. I love using mason jars simply because they are classic and functional. There are a lot of different brands and ones that come with metal closures, different metal + glass lids and in a variety of colors from clear to blue to green + beyond.

mason jar day pickles heirloomed
mason jar heirloomed

6. Tin Colander

I have found a few different varieties of tin colanders in my time hunting through vintage shops. I love how they age and gain such a rustic look while still holding up in quality. For food photography, they really add a nice vintage touch to the shots as opposed to using a more modern colander. And this is another one of those pieces that folks are so nostalgic about from days past. The patterns of the holes photograph beautifully with light shining in from behind them, a must-have especially for those seasonal summer fresh fruits + veggies.

tin colander
tin colander heirloomed

Get your Food Prop Closet started with our Vintage Prop Stylist Box! Click here for more info

7. Wooden Rolling Pin

When you’re shooting a baking-related photo, having an authentic, made-from-scratch look is hard to accomplish without a trusty, rustic rolling pin in the shot somewhere. I always grab my wooden rolling pin for this task because I love the vibe they give my dough-based recipes, even if I’m crunched for time and using a store-bought crust for the shot. Wooden rolling pins are simple and classic and a must-have in your prop closet with so many different details in their shape and handles. They just don’t make them like they used to.

wooden rolling pin heirloomed
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8. Vintage Enamelware

I have found a handful of enamelware pieces that I adore in vintage shops and when I find a great piece I tend to snatch it right up. I love how functional these enamelware products are and I particularly love the simple + utilitarian look they give to my shots. I love to use this red enamelware casserole pan for cobblers and casseroles because the red accent really catches your eye and plays off the recipe ingredients. These metal pieces hold up so well over time and give food photography a great edge, and because they’re making a great comeback it’s nice to have the look of an actual old piece over the shiny brand-new pieces of today.

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red enamel baking dish

9. Citrus Juicer

I have been able to use these vintage citrus juicers (large + small) for so many shoots including our lemonade post and many of our cocktail recipes. The juicer embodies the notion of making things the old-fashioned way and the beautiful cuts of the glass really capture the light so perfectly in every shot. If your’e shooting anything with citrus, this is a go-to for you.

citrus juicer heirloomed collection
juicer heirloomed collection

10. Cast Iron Pan :

Using cast iron props in my photoshoots is one of my favorite things because of how well they photograph and because they really are just authentically my favorite pans to cook with. I love that the skillets can be used in different ways on the stove or in the oven and I love how these cornbread molds take the vintage, homemade vibe to the next level. From bundt pans, to skillets, to muffin tins, cast iron gets to job done in the kitchen and looks beautifully rustic while doing so.

cast iron heirloomed collection
cast iron heirloomed

Do you have a go-to prop for your food photography? Is there another element I use all the time that I left out?Let me know in the comments below.


PIN IT :

Enjoy this curated list of my favorite food styling props from my vintage collection. These pieces are all perfectly rustic and unique and elevate food photography to the next level.

Do you have any go-to props that you grab for your food photography? Let me know in the comments below!


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heirloomed is a lifestyle brand with a mission of "keeping heirlooms around for another generation." Our blog features stories about family recipes, creating traditions with your family, interior design and entertaining by mixing new and vintage pieces, classic style, and small town + historic travel. Our shop features a collection of "goods inspired by the past, for generations to enjoy" with an array of products and meaningful gifts including linen aprons, tabletop linens, art, ceramics and beyond. Learn more at www.heirloomedcollection.com.







Why I Embrace Messy Styling

Because my work is a simple reflection of how I live my life, my self-professed "messy styling" approach is the only way I'd have it.

As a mom of (now) three little ones three and under, a small business owner and serial entrepreneur, a wife and all the other duties that come along with - time is certainly a luxury and one I don't take lightly.

After my last photoshoot, which had a lot more food styling duties than I am typically used to integrating, I truly realized just how messy I need to be to get the kind of shots I want. After a lot of research Pinning and a new "Well Styled" Board, making my shot lists, gathering props and my grocery list and some great advice from my longtime photographer friend Heidi, I am totally digging everything about the messiest shoot to date.

cheese board gathering

To me, messy styling means the photograph has movement and depth. It leaves you not with a stark feeling of emptiness, but feels social, lived in and totally alive.

Here are a few tips & tricks to messy styling:

Plan! Set the Scene Beforehand

Envisioning what you have in mind for the photoshoot ahead and time will help you ensure you have everything you need to pull off a messy shoot. For example, while we were shooting our feast boards, I realized that I really wanted this to feel like we had hosted a fabulous, casual gathering of friends and I needed some hands in the scene to give it a little life. Hands to pour wine, dip a cracker and feel like we were truly sitting around the table. These hands were the missing element that truly brought this shot to life.

Over Prep on Props

Just when you think you have gathered everything you'll need for your photoshoot, keep adding more. Doing a quick prep set up before your shoot or sketching out composition of a shot or two will help you to see how you're filling your space and what holes you may have. Make sure you have a happy balance of shapes, textures & tones to balance out while still allowing the main thing in your shot to shine. But, if there is something you think you may need, be sure to pack it just in case.

Then again, you never know what little accent will add the finishing touch to your shot. Here, it was a few things that really helped make this shot feel authentic. A bite out of a cherry, a wine stain on the cloth, giving the honeycomb a little time to sit and ooze, and a few scattered wine corks all helped to bring the party to life.

messy styling

Keep it Casual

Because by my definition, "messy" doesn't mean it looks like chaos, it means you have purposely planned it so you can keep things causal, not pay attention to every detail (the devil IS in the details for this girl) but still totally pulled together at the same time.

In interiors and personal style, I tend to use neutrals to accomplish this look. It's easier for me to grab from a wardrobe of blacks, whites, camels & nudes because they all pair together simply and quickly for any occasion with no competing prints, patterns & colors to coordinate. And, even when our house looks like a tornado just went through, picking up is easy because I've scattered large baskets around to dump blankets, toys, bows and pacifiers into at a moments notice.

A messy styling trick I love to use is two-fold. One, having a large amount of one thing to make a statement. For example, the crackers. We just got a huge package of these beauties and kept piling them up and up, spilling over and falling around until a little pile had formed in and out of the bowl that was meant to contain them, making a solid statement in the photo. It gives texture, perspective, makes you feel like there was ample food to go around and keeps it welcoming, like there are so many you can just dig in and nibble all night long as you chat. I love the message.

pile of crackers

 

Really Do Make a Mess

Really do make a "mess." Don't feel like you have to work to hard to visually tell the story, just make it beautiful and give it some room to let it happen and be open for interpretation.  Like with the blackberries. These are so rich in color and full in visual texture in the photograph, especially against the wood of the feast boards and the light colored muslin cloth. Having them neatly stacked or contained just didn't make sense, so we piled them on and let them spill everywhere, like someone dug in and left them where they fell. The bottle opener isn't perfectly placed next to a bottle of wine. You get the picture. Someone grabbed it, opened a beverage and set it down and left it - going off to enjoy the party and leaving the next guest to have to hunt for it. Nothing wrong with that, that's authentic and casual and messy but it just makes sense.

blackberries

I'd love to know some of your favorite messy styling shots, tips & tricks!