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My 10 favorite props for vintage still life

My style really has developed into a more country-styled still life shoot, there is something about the history in the items I put together that creates a unique story for my scene, and I simply adore this style. I used to just collect junk, which never seemed to be ‘right,’ eventually, I started to become a little more intentional in my purchases and acquirements. A few key pieces, which work well together can be used over and over again, rather than random bits and pieces.

Timber crate

Having a few different timber crates which I use is great, but more often than not there is one crate you will see over and over again. It was a fabulous find, it has so much character and warmth to the timber. I shoot in it, on it, I tip it upside down and shoot with the base, I use it as a shelf, etc. So many uses, you can’t go wrong.

Vintage Crate

Chippy table

A great workbench or table is a fabulous addition. I have an old work table I used to use all the time and I still do, but I recently acquired this gorgeous chippy table, small and light, making it easy to store and move around, but big enough to shoot on. There is an aged patina on this table as if worn smooth by loving hands over the years, just imperfect enough to be perfect.

Vintage tea cup
Chippy table

Kitchen scales

No kitchen is complete, without a set of scales, right? I have a lovely set of Australian kitchen scales, there is history here and they are still relatively small and practical. Mine had a little bit of damage in that the glass or perhaps it was plastic covered the weights has fallen out, this for me is a bonus as I do not have to worry about unwanted reflections.

Vintage scale
Vintage Scales


“Treen” (literally “of a tree”) is a generic name for small handmade functional household objects made of wood.

I have a collection of treenware, I popped them here as a single item, as it is a collection of small scoops, rolling pins, butter pats, and bowls and it is a growing collection. Each piece is carefully selected, some are quite old and some are replicas. I have sourced them from vintage shops, and antique and thrift stores, as well as found the odd item at good prices on eBay and Etsy.



Here in Australia, enamelware is synonymous and iconic in our history, durable and usable, even today. It speaks of days gone by of a young nation that was harsh and rugged and needed household and kitchen items that could stand the test of time. I have a few key vintage pieces, but most of mine are replicas.

Vintage bowl


Bakeware screams of history, character and charm, I only have a few pieces, of tin bakeware, cookie sheets, and muffin trays which I have had for many years, even before photography, I believe they may have come from my grandmother’s house. I have also bought a vintage scone and cookie tray, as well as a couple of small tart trays.

Crockery & china

Again I only have a few key pieces, two Royal Albert teacup and saucer sets (both belonged to my Grandmother) and I have recently collected some plates, Meekin from England and such. Crockery and china can be expensive because collectors are after these as well. I look more for color and style rather than makers. This can make things a little less expensive. I also have a few items, which look old but are in fact quite new. Thrift stores can also be a great option for bits and pieces. I often go for white or off-white pieces, for food photography, but for vintage, I like subdued colors. I also have a Chinese tea set and one single Wedgewood plate.

China and Linen


A lucky inheritance gave me a selection of silver cutlery, which is only used for photography (as I am too lazy to clean it.) I have added to this over the years. The problem with buying cutlery is you often need to buy a set, when I only want a few pieces. I often invest with friends, or purchase the set and then break it up and sell off smaller sets or individual pieces.


Vintage silverware

This is another expensive area, but a good bargain can be found every now and then. I don’t own a lot, but have gradually built up a tea set, not all is 100% matching, but I got most of it cheap and in an overall image or just using bits and pieces, nobody has ever noticed. I have the tray, teapot (I got that real cheap as it leaks badly), a sugar bowl and creamer.

Vintage silverware
Vintage silverware


Another item that can eat away at your savings, but keeping an eye out for a bargain and thinking outside the box can make a big impact. I have gray linen napkins, I picked up a partial set cheap, as one was missing, and I didn’t need the full set. I have offcuts of white linen from a bargain store. Actual vintage cotton with lace tablecloth which was only $5 (no idea why it was so cheap). I have also got two old shirts from a thrift store of cotton and linen with lace edging, once it is scrunched up, you’d never know.

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Rafael Jones

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