I’ve wanted a tiered cupcake tray ever since my friend Kimothy from kimothyjoyeats came over for a cupcake photo session and brought over the most adorable two-tiered dessert tray:
I had been looking online for a while and, despite seeing some adorable dessert trays on Etsy, I couldn’t bring myself to pay the exorbitant prices that come with unique, handmade goods. Other trays that I saw in stores were equally as expensive or white in color. Although I personally love simple, white plateware for everyday use, I quickly learned that they weren’t the best for food photography. When I first started experimenting with food styling and composition, I decided to use plates I already had on hand. Since the majority of the plates in my kitchen pantry are white, most of my cupcakes (especially those with white frosting) blended in with the plates and appeared washed out in my photographs.
I also had other patterned plates in my pantry, but when I pulled these out for food photographs, I found that the patterns overwhelmed or distracted from the cupcakes. I decided that I needed to start building a collection of simple, solid-colored plates… once I saved up some money. Plateware tends to be pricey, especially the pretty, photogenic kind — I mean, a plate sometimes sells for over $20 a pop at Anthropologie!
A few days ago, however, I saw a pin on Pinterest on how to build your very own multi-tiered dessert tray. Ecstatic but not wanting to spend too much money on the project, I recalled my early days in college where my friends and I thrifted through a large Goodwill warehouse near campus to decorate our dorm rooms. So I made it my personal mission to go to the nearest Goodwill this weekend and pick up a few solid-colored plates for the project.
It happened to be my lucky day on Saturday — Goodwill was having a 50%-off-everything sale in the store! I got a little carried away and bought myself a huge stack of plates and a macaron baking tin:
I often get distracted by all the bright, pretty things in stores like Anthropologie, Cost Plus World Market, Etsy, and Terrain — so much that I often forget that Goodwill is a much cheaper and perfectly viable (superior, even) alternative to all those places. Don’t get me wrong — I would love to buy most of the things I see at the stores that I listed, but it’s probably best to save my pennies for a rainy day. And although you definitely have to do some digging to find the diamonds in the rough, Goodwill really is a great source for vintage, unique, and quirky food photography props. All for much cheaper prices than that “one-of-a-kind” $28 plate from Anthropologie!