Food photography is definitely picking up in Kenya and a lot more people are taking it seriously. If you are a food photographer or have been looking to get into food photography, you know how props can elevate your food images. Being a market where good quality props are hard to come by, we share some joints where you can score some pretty decent and sometimes fantastic props.

1. Maasai Market

Maasai market is definitely a keeper. We bought our very first props in late 2016 at Maasai market. From wooden bowls to wooden serving spoons and chopping boards, if you are looking for African style pieces, this is the place to go. You may need to look around to compare prices and craftsmanship though most traders will have a similar style so don’t be afraid to look a bit harder.
Also be prepared for the many traders who will be looking to convince you to buy from them.

Maasai Market Cutlery

Spoons & bowls from Maasai Market

Maasai Market schedule:

Tuesdays: at John Michuki memorial park next to Globe roundabout
Saturdays and Sundays: High Court

2. House of leather

House of Leather is like a different version of shop 100, (who remembers shop 100 btw? Sigh, good times) & the items they sell are affordable. Though the items they sell are mass market, you can get some pretty good bowls, plates, glasses and cutlery. It all depends on the look you are trying to achieve.

The best thing is they have many other props to help you build the sets you may need to build. Just be prepared for long walks all through the store.

House of Leather cutlery

Some items from House of Leather.

3. Flea/thrift Markets

Thrift markets are our favourite places to get props. You will find most hoods have a person selling kitchen ware items. Be on the lookout for these guys selling mostly second hand items but you can get some real gems there.

We stumbled upon a thrift shop in Kawangware and this guy had the stuff! He had fantastic pieces and soon we were visiting his shop pretty often, personally, I wanted to look at each and every item as they were mostly unique! Unfortunately though, our guy was affected by import taxes so getting new items became more and more difficult. The last time we were there last year, he had only a few items on display.

You can also check out markets like Toi/Adams, Mutindwa etc.

Kawangware props

Some finds from Kawangware

You may also like: Why good product photography is important for your brand

4. Supermarkets

Our supermarkets generally don’t have unique utensils so getting props may be a hit or a miss. We have been privileged however, to get a few pieces here and there. Nakumatt, we miss them, they definitely had very good unique pieces, they stocked Wilmax items– they left a huge gap.

Carrefour has a couple of good pieces though, especially bowls, really cute Chinese bowls. As for plates and cutlery, it’s a matter of what’s in stock.

As for Tuskys, Naivas & quickmart we’ve mostly gotten beverage glasses that didn’t need to be unique. As said earlier, here it’s a hit or miss, just visit several branches and see the variety available.

Nakumatt Utensils

Got these from Nakumatt. Some of them are Wilmax!

5. Gikosh

Though Gikosh is a thrift market, it deserves to be on its own. Gikomba is well known for mostly clothes and shoes. You may however, stumble upon thrift stalls here and there selling second hand kitchen items. We were able to get some pretty decent flat boards from some juakali artisans who make chapati boards and rolling pins, they occupy only one alley but they are a sight to behold.

Just a tip though, if you don’t know the specific places to look, when you’re going to shop for other items, be on the lookout for the thrift stalls. It can be a bit hectic going to Gikosh so go with a friend if possible.

Also, this video by DIY with Jojo can help you navigate to the right stalls in Gikomba.

Boards from Gikomba

Got these from Gikomba at really low prices!

6. Kamukunji

Kamukunji is known for selling items all sorts of items from clothes to shoes to household items at a cheaper price. Though most of the items you may get there are also available at supermarkets, they are usually cheaper here. You may also be lucky enough to stumble upon a few unique pieces here and there.

Kamukunji, Nairobi

Bought these bowls from Kamukunji. Love the black ones

7. Your local fundi

For your background needs, visit fundis near year and find out how much they may charge you for different board sizes. You can then go to them with specifications on size, type of wood and the finish you would want.

Said of Scofield media was kind enough to share that you can get a variety of props at Nawal Centre, Mwembe Tayari in Mombasa.

Mum Utensils

Some of the utensils that mum wanted to throw out but I kept

Tips when prop shopping

  • Think of shoots you may want to do and envision the props you may need then purchase those. You don’t want to end up with lots of props you hardly use.
  • Not to contradict the previous point, but when passing through a flea market and you see a unique item that you know may be difficult to find later. If you have the cash, purchase it as you may not get it again.
  • Patience is key, it’s like when you are shopping for jeans at a second hand market, you search till you get what you want, it is the same thing here.
  • It takes time to build a reliable prop collection, remember that. No pressure.

Any places you know selling props that we may have missed, please share them in the comment section below.

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