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Clamps Originals

Helpful Items to Get You Started in Food Photography

By Christopher Kimball on December 13th 2013

In one of the previous articles I posted, a reader commented on the clamps I was using on my table, so it got me thinking that I should run down some of the tools used in those images. This is not an all inclusive list, but they can be helpful items to get you started in food photography. There are a lot of little things that make life easier, and many of them are either very inexpensive or things you already have on hand in your home or studio.

There will always be something more you can add or that you find you need, but this is a pretty good starting point. You do not always have to spend a lot of money to produce very high quality images. These basic tools and some good light will get you started pretty well.

[REWIND: Enhance Your Workflow – Tethering for Food Photographers]

 

tether cableTether Cable

I know I touched on this in a previous article about tethering, but wanted to mention it here as well. While not a mandatory item, I mention this because, if you can tether while shooting food, you will find that it can improve your images. The rapid feedback you get is a huge help, and while many computers come with a cable to connect them to a USB port on your computer, they are typically very short cables.

White and Black BoardWhite and Black Foam Core

Foam core or foam board is simply paper board with a center core made from light-weight foam. It is light, can be cut with scissors, and comes in many colors. White foam core makes a great reflector, and if you cut it into small pieces, you can place them close to your work to fill shadows in specific spots. Larger pieces can be used to fill large areas.

Black foam core is just like the white stuff, but is black in color. These sheets of foam core have all of the same properties of the foam sheets, but can be used as a gobo or flag to add shadows, remove flare from a lens, or add some depth when shooting glassware.

White foam core sheets are available for about $1.50 at most Wal-Mart stores and the black runs about $2.50.

ClampsClamps

Spring clamps are simple devices, but so handy to have. You cannot have enough of these kicking around the studio in my opinion. There are metal and plastic clamps on the market and in many price ranges. I prefer the plastic because they are flat black and do not add any light reflection to the image.

I recently found a large bag of different sizes of clamps at a local department store for about $4.00, and you can get them at any of the home improvement stores for about the same price or cheaper. Try to get as many different sizes as you can, because even the very little ones come in handy from time to time.

"L" BracketsMetal L brackets

This one is not a requirement by any means, but very handy to have. Metal “L” brackets in several sizes can be used with the clamps to help support the foam core. It acts as a foot and on really big sheets, adding one to the front and one to the back really adds stability. Again, these can be found at any home center or department store in the hardware section.

tools-IMG_0862

These few things and good light source should get you started. As I said at the start of this article, there will always be more to add as you go.

Are there things you use that might help the rest of use work a little better or easier? Tell us about it so we can share it with all our readers.

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Christopher is a commercial and stock photographer based in Cocoa Beach, Florida. He specializes in shooting food, commercial real estate, and editorial projects related to food, sports, and products. His work has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and around the internet and his photography experience dates back some 30 years. Connect with Chris on social media or visit his website to see his work.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Elijah Alcantara

    I was wondering how I can hold all those reflectors … great tip on the L bracket!

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  2. Jeanie

    Never thought about using an L bracket to hold up a reflector. Freeing up hands is always a good thing! Great tip.

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    • Christopher Kimball

      And the best part is, they are really inexpensive. I think I saw some at the local home and garden center for about a dollar a package with four brackets in it. Glad you found that useful!

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