A bakers guide to beginner styling : Shop for props
Owning a cake BUSINESS is hard work
So many aspects to keep track of in the business of cake, however, this particular sphere gets skipped over by most home bakers and small businesses with limited budgets. Can you guess what it is?
Photography of course! Many components can make this part of caking overwhelming such as having a professional camera and lenses, lighting , editing software or props. The best way to tackle this robust area is to break it down.
As a stylist, when I begin a photo project, I start with props. Depending on your brand and budget, you can have minimal props or a more extensive collection. Try not to burden yourself with getting everything at once, as you grow in this area, your taste and style will as well.
Before you start
KEEP BRANDING IN THE FOREFRONT
Make sure you are reflecting your branding in your props. What are your logo colors? Are you in the wedding space? Do you offer products for children? That should be reflected in your prop selection. I love the color pink, but I lean in the direction of pastel colors mostly. Because of that, I do not buy props that are primary colors or heavy in saturation, it wouldn’t match my brand. In order to anchor or add weight to my final pictures I prefer to always have something white and/ or gold as an accent as well. I must admit, sometimes I have a hard time with this, especially in the fall and winter seasons when the colors are darker.
Whenever you hit the store, even for personal runs, keep your eyes open for things to re purpose - but with a purpose. I like to browse Instagram for inspiration, however, I don’t usually visit bakers profiles. I prefer to be inspired by foodies and boss babes as they seem to be more ahead of the curve than a lot of bakers. With sets in mind, I go to my favorite places to get props. Homegoods, Burlington Coat Factory and Target are my first stops because the items that they have in stock more fit my brand. Thrift shops are great places as well and you could find some rare gems!
LOOK FOR THE UNUSUAL
You can stand out with your props even though they are common to the indulgence experience. Sometimes things that aren’t meant to be tableware can really make your pictures pop! Picture frames, glitter, clocks or vases can help you to tell a story. After all, your pictures are the packaging of your business on someones feed! Unusual props show your creative attention to detail.
It is easy to get carried away with your props, especially if you’ve just purchased a few pieces that you love and can’t wait to use. I am totally guilty of this. Negative space is just as important as positive space when you are composing a picture with props. You want to tell a story but you also want to make sure that you don’t extinguish the umph of your sweet creation by eliminating negative space.
Sticking with your overall branding and business “ voice”, start with these items as your prop foundation.
Elevate your creation, it is the centerpiece and it deserves a stand. Try to keep your stands neutral and as close to matte finish as possible to avoid reflection unless you can conceal or edit that out
What better way to make it seem like home than with table settings or things commonly used when eating? Linens give a much more finished look as opposed to paper napkins. Depending on your brand, paper napkins may be suitable.
Plates are another great way to convey eating and enjoying a treat. One cake will do but if you have a stack of 3, it’s a party!
Your client isn’t going to eat cake with their hands are they? This is a great opportunity to sneak in the anchor colors.
Keep your picture looking clean or create a mood. You can fashion your own backdrop or you can purchase them online at various stores. Poster board works well but avoid using sheets- the flaws and wrinkles are more obvious than you know.
Hopefully you you aren’t going to go and purchase props to dwarf any treasure trove, but do make sure you have a safe place to store your items so they don’t end up lost, faded, wrinkled, torn or broken. Props can easily become an investment so you want to take good care of them. I keep My props on shelves and in clear storage bins separated by color and season so I can mix and match. Happy shopping and propping!