How to Effectively Store Props, Tools, and Equipment for Food Photography
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When I started my food photography business, my studio was the corner of my living room. My boards and equipment would go against my closet walls, and my prop storage was on a shelf in my closet. After a year, my prop collection soon became too big, and one shelf turned to multiple shelves. This way of storing props would not last, as my props were beginning to get damaged from being so crowded, and it was too hard to find specific props and pull them out. I tried to organize using large bins, but these were just as bad as I would have to just toss in all my props into the boxes and hope they don’t get damaged and I’d be able to find them. However, when I moved to my first dedicated studio space, I was given much more room for improving my office organization. Here are five ways that I was able to better organize my food photography studio.
1. Using Wire Shelves to Store Props
6-shelf shelving unit with wheels
Since I was able to utilize more space, I chose to use Wire Shelvessmall hooks for hanging other miscellaneous things around the studio, such as shooting outfits, aprons, hot gloves, and hangers. I also use plastic liners for some shelves with smaller, more delicate things. I have a dedicated shelf for all of my camera equipment, which I put on top of these plastic liners so none of my equipment gets damaged. You can also get dividers for these shelves, which can help organize a shelf that has multiple types of props on it, instead of using multiple shelves.
2. Wire Prep Tables
Heavy duty surge protector power strip
After using wire shelves, I looked into other products that would help me become more organized and save time in photoshoots. I purchased two wire prep tables, and they have proven to be very useful and helpful not just in providing organizing space, but in utility during photoshoots. The lower shelves of these prep tables have lots of space to hold containers that I used to hold tools and supplies. Everything from tape, glue, scissors, and large metal clips goes perfectly on these prep tables as I can easily access them. These prep tables also have metal casters on the bottom, so they can be moved around very easily.
I also like to put my heavy kitchen appliances on the shelves of one of my prep tables, connected to a power strip with a long cord fixed to the table, so I can easily move my microwave and toaster oven around easily, without losing power. This allows me to have a working kitchen in my studio, as I only recently moved to a studio that’s near a full kitchen. I also use these to store small props that could easily float around and get lost, such as utensils that I’ll be using for a shoot. Mobility is most important in my studio space, so if my special needs change, I can quickly and easily move things around and change the space.
3. Using Board Storage System
6-shelf shelving unit with wheels
Storing boards can be hard as they take up lots of space and are very heavy. To solve this, I use another wire shelf in a specific way to hold boards. Stacking the boards onto one another like a bookshelf is the most effective use of the shelf, though the boards are quite heavy, so I used several tension rods to divide up a couple of sections of similar boards, to relieve some of the weight on the boards and organize them a bit better. This system is also extremely effective as the shelves can be used with wheels, so the whole shelf of boards can be quickly moved around my studio, something that would otherwise be extremely difficult due to the weight and size of the boards. I can also quickly look through and choose boards, given the amount of space between each board. I talk more about the troubles of storing boards and backgrounds in this blog post.
4. Creatively Storing Dishes and Utensils
As a large majority of my props are various plates and utensils, I’ve found that they are the hardest to store. Especially for utensils, as they are small and can easily get lost in the large amounts of other props. To solve this, I bought several plastic baskets that could hold all of my utensils. This proved to be not organized enough, as I just had massive piles of silverware with no real organization. I decided to create a DIY storage system, in which I cut several pieces of cardboard, foam boards, and tape to create a grid-like structure, so I had several sections placed in these bins, where I could organize all of my silverware.
Storing plates and bowls is another endeavor that you have to get a bit creative for. I have multiple store-bought plate holders for my larger dishes, but I’ve found that a turkey rack is great for holding plates and is very compact. These can be bought online or even found at Goodwill, so these are a more cost-effective alternative to stacking plates and other dishes. You could also use office folder dividers for storage of plates, which you could easily find laying around the house or online.
5. Using Garage Hooks and Miscellaneous Storage Solutions
Heavy duty garage storage hooks
Horizontal fishing pole holder
Since larger props such as my artificial grass lawn and faux ivy panel are harder to store and have to be stored in specific ways, I chose to use small metal hooks fixed to the wall to store these things. These hooks easily fit through tiny holes in my grass lawn and can hold the ivy panel easily at the same time. This same type of storage system can be used for larger things, such as storing a background. I use large metal hooks screwed into the wall, and I run a metal or PVC pipe through the backdrop to mount it onto the hooks, right behind my shooting area for easy access. Another creative use of storage is how I hold my miscellaneous small stands. I use a fishing pole holder to clip them directly into the wall, which perfectly holds all of my stands. These pole holders can be customized with however many clips you want very easily, so I’d recommend using them if you have lots of smaller stands that seem to float around the studio.
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