A while back some of you asked about how I store my props. Well, this summer one of my goals is to organize my work area and prop storage. I have plenty of space, as we have a large workshop attached to our home, but it needs a new plan. Lots will be moving into the Etsy shop! I undoubtedly will be borrowing ideas from the prop rooms I have been through, and thought maybe you can get some ideas from food studios, too, and adapt them for your home work space.
For professional food photographers that use their props on a daily basis it is not just a matter of warehousing, it is organizing for accessibility. When you have clients on set waiting for a prop change, and hero food waiting to come out, you need to find options quickly. Proper storage also protects and preserves the props as a business investment, treated like any studio equipment should be.
California photographer Lew Robertson's prop room is an amazing example of an organized, highly functional work area for so many reasons.
Studios tend to organize dinnerware into categories: dishes in one area, bowls in another, platters grouped separately. Then they are subdivided into groups according to color and size. You can see how this makes choosing a plate so much easier, the entire collection can be scanned quickly. The plate storage in Lew's studio is customized with a doweling system that holds the plates vertically. It is not only efficient, but also protects the plates from the damage caused by stacking. The larger dinnerware pieces are up higher (not used as often), more frequently used salads and smaller dinner plates are more eye level, and the white plates that are the backbone of any prop collection are right within arms reach. Very well thought out.
Glassware, too, is sorted by type of drinking glass, pitchers, jars, vases, etc., and can be colorized like the dinnerware. Note how Lew has kept the shelves fairly shallow. The deeper the shelves, the more you have to move from the front to get to the back. Narrow shelves keep everything to the forefront, visible and lessening chance of breakage. The many glass shelves help tremendously to keep light on the props for easy selection.
Did you notice how the fabrics are filed and hung? So easy to find the color, pattern,texture you want to work with. Using hangers saves so much time in pressing material, as it wrinkles much less than if folded and stacked.
One of my favorite features of this prop room is the amount of open counter space to select props and assemble sets. The center island is ideally located, right in the center of everything, and houses napkins,placemats,flatware below in sliding basket drawers. The room has ample light to work in, another big plus.
I asked how they stay on top of keeping the room so neat. Obviously, it was built with organization in mind, but a busy food studio tends to accumulate props very rapidly, and clutter can overtake quickly. They purge the room once a year (what a great garage sale that must be!). This guarantees that props don't get overused and stay in current trend, such a good policy. The truth is, when you shoot food every day you will never have every prop you need, and why we stylists are kept busy sourcing to the specific needs of each job. I have worked out of large corporate prop rooms that never get edited and it is not a benefit to have a lot of props that never get used. On the other hand, I have been in food studios that have minimal house props, and I need to over-prop the job because there is no back up if something becomes problematic on set. That's what I find so appealing about Lew's collection: he has an ample selection to work with, and an impressive prop room that is an asset to his business. So glad he let me share it with you! Follow this link to his website to see more views of this awesome studio.
There's more prop organizing tips to come soon. How about you, keeping the props under control?