Rustic and Vintage Props Galore

I’ve got a thing for photography props.

Often, the well-placed prop makes can make all the difference between a plain photo and one that truly evokes a mood or feeling.

In fact, props are such an essential element in most of my styling efforts.

Throughout this post, I’ll share a few of my favorite rustic and vintage props and how I put them to good use.

flatware pieces

While I do collect a variety of styling props, I’m particularly drawn to using vintage and rustic pieces to enhance my photos.

Even if I’m shooting a contemporary item or food, I love to incorporate an aura of vintage sensibility where I can.

My small collection of old fashioned-inspired flatware are prime examples of how a little element can go a long way.

Most of these knives, forks and spoons only cost me just a few dollars each.

cherry pavlova

I try to arrange these little extras in such a way that they don’t take attention away from the main focus of the photo.

In this case, the cherry pavlova is obviously the star of the show.

But a few vintage forks tied with jute and placed off to the side, add an unexpected element that blends into the overall shot.

The forks compliment the presentation because they’re interesting but in a subtle way that doesn’t scream, “hey look at me”.

props and bundt cake

Regular readers may recall that I love collecting wood cutting and serving boards and I use them frequently in my food styling.

I have a couple of large, circular olive serving boards that have the most wonderful chunky handles on them.

In this shot you can see how the combination of an old copper pot and the wood board helps this Bundt cake shine.

Placing everything in front of a window evokes a feeling of comfort and quiet country living.

rustic props trays

A few years ago I was rummaging around my mom’s basement and came across a stack of old, well-used baking trays.

You know the kind of tray that has evidence of years of burned oil?

When I spotted them sitting up on an equally old cabinet, I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

It’s almost like they were there waiting for me to find them and I’m so glad my mom never tossed them out.

rustic props chickenHere’s an example of how I used one of the oil-burned baking sheets.

I think this rotisserie chicken has so much more visual interest when photographed sitting on top of the tray.

The oil-burn on the sheet creates a mottled-looking, rustic coloring that adds more character to the overall shot.

I use these lovely baking sheets as backdrops for desserts and cookies too.

Don’t let your friends and family toss their burned baking sheets.

Have them save the sheets for you.

transferware plates and chair

If you ever run into my husband, Boris, don’t let him know I’ve bought another dish.

He thinks I have far too many dishes than I need but you know what I think, right?

I love especially love transferware dishes with their old fashioned patterns.

Also, I typically buy individual plates instead of a set because I like the idea of mixing them up for a more eclectic presentation.

scones stack

I used this tranferware plate because I thought it really helped bring out the color of the raspberries in these fruit scones.

Building food upward instead of outward is another thing to consider when styling treats.

Even though the plate is in the background, I didn’t want to cover up the pretty pattern by covering it with scones.

Simple solution was to stack the scones so, you get the dessert and the benefit of the plate design in the shot.


Sunday Dinner cookbook cover

A few years ago, I styled and photographed the cover for the cookbook Sunday Dinner.

I used the same transferware plate even though the color may look a little different in this shot.

By the way, you can read more about my cookbook cover shoot in my earlier post HERE.

rustic tools and utensils

Don’t these props look like I picked them up from an old fashioned farm auction?

These kinds of primitive pieces are such a treat to come across. I can’t wait to style those fab pastry cutters.

While strolling a local antique shop a few weeks ago, I spotted the large wooden scoop.

It was sitting on a crate at the door, just waiting for me to come upon it.

I love the irregular shape and I think it looks like it was carved by hand out of an old piece of wood.

citrus pound cake

In this shot, the vintage sifter is barely even in focus but it’s still there to add visual interest to the shot.

Again, it’s a subtle add but to my eye… it’s a useful inclusion.

The copper teapot in the background is another inexpensive flea market prop find that I layered into the styling.

Notice both of these props are strategically placed just off to the side or back of the main focal point.

pumpkin pie

I used this dessert in a post entitled Pumpkin Pie and College Quests a while back about the modern day college application process.

When I first shot this pie, I just had it sitting on a dark board but after looking at through my lens I saw the deficiencies in that approach.

I added the vintage wooden rolling pin on the side and sprinkled the board with a little flour.

With those two simple tweaks, this shot was immediately transformed into one that suggests movement and immediacy.

rustic wooden scoop

Here’s another way I used the wooden scoop.

This is truly a prop because I didn’t actually use it to scoop up the flour for this pie crust.

I just liked the way the shot looked with the flour pouring out of the scoop as if I had used it that way.

Even with the modern marble rolling pin, this could have been shot in a country kitchen thanks to the suggestion planted by the placement of the vintage wood scoop.

I enjoy mixing modern and vintage pieces.

Rustic photography props

When I spot a prop, I never really know for sure exactly how I’ll end up using it.

Part of the fun of photo styling is figuring out how to incorporate the unusual props that I’ve collected over the years.

So, do keep your eyes peeled because you never know where you’ll find the next great prop that will transform your shot into something delightful and most unexpected.


Thanks for stopping by.

See  you back here next time. 

I’m linking this Rustic and Vintage Props Galore post to the following:

Botanic Bleu

  • Donna A Good

    what a lovely blog post!

  • [email protected] Designs

    Not only is your photography incredible so is your incredible collation of props. I have always been in awe of the props that you use! Happy Spring!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Shirley!
      You know I keep my eye always peeled for something fun and unique.
      Once I get my daughter settled into school, I’d love to got prop hunting together sometime.
      Happy day to you.

  • Rebecca

    Eye candy! The first commenter, Sherry, said it best, it’s “artistry”. Your photographs are warm and give the viewer a pleasant feeling. Thanks for sharing your tips! This is a post that I’ll come back to again to study.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Rebecca, I’m thrilled these are tips you can use and I’m glad to know that you enjoy your visits here.
      Good luck with your photography study, I’m still learning new things all the time too.
      Have a wonderful day.

  • dana

    Love this and I love your new newsletter format! As always, your work is gorgeous.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks for noticing the new newsletter format, Dana.
      That’s been in the works for the last few weeks and this was the first mailing.
      It seems my blog tweaks are never-ending-lol.
      I appreciate your sweet words about my work too.
      Happy day.

  • Sherry

    I am still swooning, Lisa. This post is sheer artistry! I will be reviewing this again and again. I forget that I can’t reach through the screen and touch or taste! Beautiful, simply gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your talents. It is a true blessing. Have a wonderful week.

  • Jennifer

    I just adore your photography Lisa. You have such a great eye. You need to visit Maine and go prop shopping with me. I’m sure that I’m passing stuff up that I should be snapping up!

    Happy Spring!


    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Jennifer, If I ever plan a trip to Maine, I’ll definitely give you advance notice because I would never pass up an opportunity to go prop hunting.
      That would be so much fun.
      Once you start a hobby like that, you’ll quickly develop a keen eye for finding unusual treasures.

  • jae

    Not only are the tips useful, but your photography is such a visual feast. You are truly the Vermeer of the blog world.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Jae, you are way too generous… but I sure do appreciate that.
      Thanks for your sweet words.
      I’m happy you enjoy my work and I hope you’re inspired to try a few projects and/or recipes too.
      Have a lovely day.

  • Sandra

    Lisa this is one of my favorite posts! The information here is priceless. In my thrift store travels I am always on the hunt for vintage and rustic pieces. Found a few but antique and flea markets may be my best bet. Dark/Moody photos are my comfort zone now I have to work more on my styling. No doubt I will refer to this post often, thank you.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Sandra.
      I’m especially drawn to dark/moody photos too.
      I appreciate you letting me know, you’ll refer back to this post for props inspiration.
      Have a lovely day and thanks for popping over.

  • holly

    Thanks for the great lesson. I am new to all of this blogging and photo taking. I love all that you share and gasp excitedly when I see you have posted. Keep up your beautiful photos and teaching us all to see beauty in the patina of rustic.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging and photo taking, Holly.
      You’ll enjoy the journey and learning new photo techniques and styling ideas make it that much more fun.
      Feel free to drop me an email anytime if you have any specific questions as you navigate blogging.
      I’d be happy to help you with whatever I can.
      Good luck.

  • Vicki

    Once again your amazing talents have stopped me in my tracks. Woke up early and decided to get an early start. Intended to do a super quick email check to note which emails I want to “review later” but I saw your email notification. 45 minutes later I am still scrolling and reviewing your absolutely beautiful post. Aw, what a wonderful wake up gift…Thank you!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      What a sweet message, Vicki.
      Is this the same Vicki I met in a scrapbook class years ago?
      I’m honored to provide you with a “wake up gift” and inspiration.
      Happy day to you.

      • Vicki

        Lisa, Yes I am that Vicki. Thank you for remembering me! I hope you and family are well. I have missed visiting your blog and look forward to diving in to your vast amount of gifts. Also want to recommend which offers lightroom and photography classes. Not that you need any help in that direction. I also think you should contact them to teach a class. Hum, maybe I will drop your name in that hat!! Super good to reconnect. Take care Lisa.

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    It’s not just having props — but knowing what to do with them. I have a few copper pieces but until recently have I used them?? NO! I saw my daughter-in-law throw away a perfectly good (meaning really black) cookie tray and didn’t jump in and grab it. 🙁 See, you have “THE EYE”. You visualize what you can do. I love your props — the wood pieces, the dishes, the copper — all of it. Have a great day! – By the way, are you hosting a big Easter dinner??

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Ah, Marisa… now you know. Never let a good oil-burned tray get away from you.
      Start raiding the cabinets of all relatives-lol.
      I’ll be watching to see how you use some of your copper pieces.
      No big Easter dinner this year but still lots of picture taking (and maybe even some prop hunting-smile).

  • Botanic Bleu

    Thank you for sharing your photo props and your tips on how to use them in photos. I am pinning to my Pinterest board, Photo Styling.


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