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5 Must-Use Food Photography Tools

By Christopher Kimball on December 17th 2013

Props and tools are an integral part of food photography and there are a few things that can make life easier. Whether you are just getting started or have been photographing food for many years, there is always going to be something else you need or would like to add to the your food photography toolbox. Some things may be used in the image, while others are never seen but are important to the final product.

Let’s talk tools today and we will come back to props in another article.

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Extra-Long 12-inch Tweezers

These are not your grandma’s tweezers but instead are about 10 to 12 inches long. They are very narrow at the tip and allow you to handle small, delicate objects, setting them just where you want them on the plate. You can get straight or curved tweezers and the cost is so low, there is little reason not to have both.

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Tacky Wax

Tacky Wax is nothing more than a small tub of sticky wax. You can use a very small amount to hold things in place. It works well to hold a fork or spoon on the edge of a plate, for instance. It comes in a small tub but you do not need much to do the job.

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Wildroot Hair Lotion

No, really, I typed that right. Wildroot is a white lotion that is extremely thick. It is commonly used as a milk substitute on things like cereal. I prefer to use real food products when shooting food but corn flakes or foods with similar textures get soggy so fast that milk would be impractical on them. Wildroot can be put on after the food in in the bowl and it does not soak in, but looks like milk.

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[REWIND: Learn Food Photography]

Brulee’ Torch

A small brulee’ torch can be handy for melting a bit of cheese or crisping up an edge of meat. You just never know when you might need a small heat source that can be concentrated to just where you want it.

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Charcoal Starter

The charcoal starter is a great tool for adding symmetrical “grill marks” on meat. I know, but sometimes the way those grill marks look is more important to the client than the entire rest of the set. If you need them and they have to be perfect, his a great way to control the pattern, size, depth, and over all look of the final product.

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White Foam Core

You cannot have enough white foam core. Many different sizes and shapes make filling in shadows and manipulating light so much easier. It is so inexpensive that it doesn’t make sense to not have a lot of it in the studio. It does get dirty quickly too so swap it out often if you are using it as a background or tabletop.

[REWIND: Using Natural Light For Authentic Looking Food Photography]

So there are a few things to get you started. There are many more handy tools and gadgets out there that could be very handy. I talked a little about them in a previous article so I am not going to put them in here but go read the article when you have time.

Are there things you use that are not listed and you want to tell our readers about? Please comment and tell us about what you have found that makes your life easier. We want to hear all about it!

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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.

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