Best Food Photography Equipment for a Budget: What You Really Need To Get Started

Food Photography Equipment on a budget…is it possible?! I won’t sugar coat it, Food photography, is an expensive career and hobby! From the actual hardware gear, to software subscriptions, props, backdrops, and even studio rentals, expenses will mostly likely be the largest portion of your financials when you’re first starting out.

Section 1: The necessary equipment

Food photography is not a cheap hobby! The amount of investments that a professional photographer is required to make in order to excel in his craft, are enormous. What this really means for the average person is, unless you’re a professional photographer, the equipment you need is pretty small.

Generally, what you’ll need to get started is a set of nice digital cameras (Nikon or Canon), a tripod, and a camera bag (or bag or case to carry the camera around in).

Once you’ve committed to being a full time food photographer (and a few other photography jobs that you will likely want to shoot for) you’ll need a few more things in order to be completely set for any food-related photo shoot.


Apple Photos (free)

Photoshop (paid)

Shooting Studio Rentals

Michelob ULTRA (free)

Amazon Prime ($15/month)

Free Hotel Rooms

The more prep work, the more better pictures you’ll get. Whether you’re capturing a family photo or just a couple plates, you’re going to want a good background, in front of which to shoot your food! Be aware that booking hotels and studio rentals can be pricey and can easily eat up the majority of your budget.

For staying cool in the summertime, we recommend sitting inside a nice air conditioned, hotel lobby. This could include: Holiday Inn Express , or Hampton Inn , or a Marriott.

Where to find food photography equipment for a budget

And for those looking to dive right in and get started, I highly recommend reaching out to various specialty retailers, used goods websites, and industry insiders.

However, for those of us who want to begin shopping on a budget, there are several options to take into consideration. From making special shopping lists, to sifting through sales, it really is possible to have the absolute best of both worlds by keeping the most important thing in mind – how much you can spend!

1. Selling Your Equipment

Selling your photography equipment online is something many people enjoy doing, and I completely understand the allure. After all, it is the easiest way to make money.

Where can you find free props?

In my opinion, there are certain things that even a beginner food photographer will need in order to produce great photos. However, they don’t need to be expensive at all. If you’re seeking a basic starter kit, I can tell you that food bloggers can get by with a lot less than say, professional magazine photographers or high end hobbyist photographers. Even if you are just starting out, I’m sure you’re more concerned about the quality of the images you’re going to create, rather than the amount of money you spend. At the end of the day, you’re only as good as the quality of the gear you have in front of you.

Where can you find free backdrops?

Don’t believe me? Take a quick look on Etsy. They are abundant with backdrops, lighting, and props, and that’s if you don’t count the shipping charges you’ll inevitably need to pay after all that searching and bargain hunting. Another option is Google! There are literally hundreds of searchable, free food photography backdrops out there, ranging from simple paper to elaborate easel’s! So don’t let budget or lack of experience deter you!

As far as software goes, don’t let your love of photo editing deter you. The industry standard applications used in food photography have evolved into more than just fun utilities.

When is the best time to buy for your hobby?

First things first: is your new hobby hobby or career a sustainable career or is it purely a hobby? For some, owning/buying their own equipment, especially a professional grade camera, or photoshoot props might be a bit intimidating. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to buy all the gear in your craft, all at once. Typically, I recommend starting with a hobbyist’s kit, or a large piece of lower cost equipment that you can break down and use. You can then take things like food photography, home décor photography, and event photography to the next level, with affordable tools to get you started!



The high-tech, high-design sets, amazing lighting, and fancy accessories can seem so enticing, but in reality, it can get pretty expensive! For me, the right tools don’t even have to look or feel expensive. Sometimes the most simple, and economical things, can be the most impactful. The most important thing to remember, is that there are more than a million of very talented, and creative people out there that make up the ‘web design, photography, food styling, and video production’ community. Try to stay realistic with your budget, but don’t settle for anything under-equipped for what you want to achieve.

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