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Stuart and I were on a mission.

You know who Stuart is by now don't you? Stuart helps me run the Dundee Branch of The Clandestine Cake Club, but he also bakes and blogs over at Cakeyboi.


Anyway, back to our mission. I was chatting to our handyman and all round whizz at work, Malcolm. He can always be relied on for how-to advice. He's working on his own wedding at the moment and making a lot of the decorations for the marque they are holding the wedding in.

We started talking about vintage plates as he's buying them up for the reception. I asked if he had any tips on where to go and he told me about a junkyard, come all round fabulous place in Montrose called Steptoe's
Yard. It has to be good with a name like that doesn't it?

Photo: Northern Lights Blog

Later that night, I switched on the TV while I was cooking and lo and behold a programme I've never seen before is on called Salvage Hunters and guess where they were? Yes, you guessed it, Steptoe's Yard. I have to tell you I got very excited when I saw them walk past table after table of crockery and cutlery.

I was straight on the phone to Stuart to make plans to visit the yard that weekend.


Outside there are table after table full of boxes with plates, bowls, cutlery and all sorts of other household wares. It is all outside in all weathers, but who cares? It was exactly what we were looking for.


We soon both had a teetering pile and that was before we had even entered any of the buildings. Unfortunately we came across the best building last, just as they were closing and it was full of kitchenware. I was salivating just looking at it all!


I came away with 23 items for just £25. Plates, tarnished metal chargers, vintage cutlery, a couple of gorgeous ginger jars for my bedroom as well as some napkins. A steal! Stuart got a rather nice collection of plates with retro patterns and was equally delighted.


Here are some of my tips for food styling.
  1. Always shoot in daylight.
  2. Buy art mount board. It makes a great plain background for photos. It usually come in a colour and the reverse side is white, so two boards for the price of one.
  3. Add napkins and cutlery to the shot for some interest.
  4. Buy old tarnished cutlery, it doesn't reflect what is going on in the room (including the photographer, so it looks better in photos.
  5. If you use Pinterest, take some portrait shots and leave space above or below the main items in the photo. This will mean you can add text.
  6. Slightly over exposing your photos using the Windows photos program on your computer or other software.
  7. Take some photos where the main object is off to the side and some where the background is out of focus.
  8. Try taking photos from different angles and some close up and some from a distance.
  9. Just keep taking photos. You will improve.
Last year I went to Food Blogger Connect and one of the talks was on food styling. Here are some tips I picked up:

Food Styling 101
    • Think abut the camera angle, try taking shots from different angles
    • Use paint brushes to paint oil on food for shine
    • Use marmite mixed with water to give a golden colour to food
    • Store salad and herbs in ice water to keep them fresh until you need them for the shot
    • When building up a dish, add things a little at a time
    • Use a dripper to drip on dressing
    • Show food cut into or spooned into
    • Use a teaspoon to take out a little at a time, until it looks good, this is more precise
    • Mess up a fork and add it to the dish, don't use it to cut into the dish
    • Add cutlery to your photo
    • Only slightly cook vegetables for a better colour
    • A small plate looks better in a photo
    • Turquoise and pale green plates work well with food
    • Use a dulling spray on plates and cutlery to take of the shine
    • Props - go for neutral colours and dull metals, not shiny
    • Props - search in antique shops and car boot sales
    • Slice herbs and vegetables very thinly, pop into some iced water and they will curl nicely for your shot. Chillies, carrots and spring onions work well

    For more food styling ideas check out my eBay collection Food Styling Props.

    This collection contains 46 of the best food styling props and ideas from dulling spray (for cutlery), cups and plates, to printed greaseproof paper and a hand held steam iron for quickly steaming out those napkin creases.

    Each product come with a tip on how to use it.

    If you like this collection, simply follow it and you will be updated when any new items are added.

    Do let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for additions to the collection.

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