MONIQUE SOURINHO - food photographer, stylist, recipe developer, and professional taste tester. Nothing fills my cup more than connecting with visionaries (especially over a great meal). To learn more click here.
My Top 6 Backdrops and Surfaces for Food Styling
I’m not sure if this post is more about me swooning over these incredible people, or about introducing you to some spectacular backgrounds and surfaces for food styling… but, then again, does it really matter?
If you know me at all, you know I’m big on supporting my community of creatives—I love finding unique elements made with a human touch to include in my styled photos. Using interesting backdrops and surfaces adds an element of personality to the shoot that would otherwise be lacking.
So, without further ado—let’s dig into my top 6 favorite food styling backdrops and surfaces and how you can get your hands on them!
Photo Surfaces by Madelene Farin
Oh, Madeline—the most patient, and undoubtedly talented, creator. Working with her to create a custom surface is so refreshing. She is an artist through and through. When she posts snippets of surfaces with simple props it has a way of inspiring the viewer to not only a) want the surface, but b) envision themselves using the surface and all the possibilities before even having it on hand. It’s magical, really.
The process of collaborating with her is effortless. Madeline bounces ideas around with you to get a vision board going, then from there, the preliminary painting takes place. Afterwards, open communication furthers it along, and during every step of the way she is kind, considerate, and understanding. Really, you couldn’t ask for more.
With Madeline, it’s not just the surfaces; it is the exciting process of it all. Plus, who wouldn’t want a surface beautiful enough to double as artwork to display in your home? The gorgeous factor is just the cherry on top. Madeline has an eye for beauty, for inspiration from nature, for subtleties that help evoke feelings and more. All in all, her surfaces are masterpieces in my eyes—and I can’t recommend her work highly enough.
Gosh, where do I even begin?! Ginny is simply fabulous. She is hysterical, and infectiously enthusiastic. She is a rockstar—she just gets it. And what’s better is whenever I get the opportunity to collaborate with her it feels like a wave of good energy infuses into every project.
The Erickson Surfaces team is expanding, and one of the new additions to the team is someone I go head over heels for: Ramon of the Prince & the Proper. Those two alone give confidence that their entire staff is a thrill to be around. No wonder the surfaces feel as special as they do.
The best part? They act like real humans. Simply watch their Instagram stories for a day and you’ll see what I mean—they are always having a blast and goofing off, being authentically themselves. That said, they appreciate the value of work-life balance, which can be so hard to find in this day and age of always go-go-going and work-work-working. I feel whenever these aspects of balance are put into play, there is an aura about the objects it translates to, giving it a je ne sais quoi factor that can’t be found otherwise.
Master of Plaster
I first (virtually) met Master of Plaster’s [Executive Designer] Lauren through Ginny of Erickson Surfaces. They are both such incredible individuals, but the two of them together? What a dream team! Full of vibrancy, full of ambition, and full of appreciation for textures and surfaces that otherwise, more commonly, get overlooked.
Not only am I a fan, but the world suddenly felt small when I widened my eyes to the fact that their plasters are actually in some of my favorite restaurants down the road from my house! Mind you, we live on completely opposite sides of the nation. I don’t know about you, but when the world feels smaller and more connected, I get a sense of warmth—and I love that just as much as I love their plasters.
I first spotted Brandon’s surfaces through an Instagram ad, funny enough! (Those social media algorithms really know how to target me, clearly.) Normally I avoid buying anything through Instagram, however, I couldn’t help but make an exception for their backdrops.
After purchasing my first, I had to get another… and another… naturally, a relationship was formed. Then I suddenly found myself thankful for Instagram ads, for the first time ever.
I am amazed by people and Brandon is no exception, not only for her talent, but her character. Despite being the youngest business owner of the bunch, she and her team have a really great thing going for them and I cannot wait to see just how much they continue to flourish!
Currently, their team offers ten color options, however, because each surface is hand painted – though they make look similar – no two pieces are the same! For me, there is a certain comfort in knowing that each piece is unique, and though the formula is the same, it is the human touch that truly makes it. It’s so poetic.
These were actually my first surfaces I ever purchased. I followed Olivia on Instagram, and was blown away by her styling and photography. I later found out that she paints her own surfaces, and I was so impressed!
Chatting with her about colors and textures and everything that goes into it really paved the path for my adoration of custom surfaces. My first investment in her led to my very first magazine cover and publication. All the feels were so very real in those moments and it was such a transformative experience for me and for my business.
For that—and for marking my beginning steps of ‘hey, maybe I CAN do this!’—I am grateful. (And if I lived in the UK I’d probably buy too many of her surfaces to count.)
I may or may not be adding this particular one in here because I *ahem* helped paint some of their surfaces. So maybe it is a print, HOWEVER, it is a one of a kind piece in the sense it was painted by a human.
(That human being me… wink. Thanks again for the opportunity, Tuvy!)
On another note, aside from the surfaces I played a part of, I actually use their double-sided boards the most when it comes to styling commercial photoshoots for larger brands. Their surfaces are so versatile, with the option of marble, wood, or concrete textures. They are safe, yet they are impactful for a variety of photo concepts. And the best part about them? They are lightweight, making it my go-to for transportation!
Long story short: they make my life easy. And that’s really freaking valuable when you’re a forever multitasker like me. I use them all the time.
In fact, I used their surfaces so much with one particular agency that I asked if I could leave them there instead of traveling back and forth with it—because although they are lightweight, I feel more confident knowing the resources we often use are at hand for any given moment, especially considering the amount of times we use them.
I hope this post inspires you to shop around for backdrops and surfaces to spice up your photos! If you purchase from any of these artisans feel free to mention me!
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