15 Photography Props Every Photographer Should HaveNovember 1, 2018
Looking for an easy way to make every photo stand out? Have you ever wanted to improve your prop collection, but don’t know how to start? Keeping a selection of unique photography props on hand can help you take engaging photos worthy of a photo contest. In this article, we’ll cover the best props to have for a variety of different themes and occasions.
15 Photography Props Every Photographer Should Have
Food Photography Props
- Glasses, Mugs, and Cups
- Bowls and Plates
Wedding Photography Props
- Natural Elements
Maternity Photography Props
- Toys and Books
- Baby Clothes and Shoes
Baby Photography Props
- Baskets and Other Containers
- Stuffed Animals
Portrait Photography Props
- Numbers and Letters
- Seasonal Items
If you have your own studio, the right props are a vital part of your photography studio equipment. These props are great items to have on display– although you may want to store your most delicate props in a closet or cabinet. You can also have larger items, like furniture or photo backdrops, readily available. If you visit various locations for your photo shoot, you may wish to choose a selection of smaller photo props that are easier to transport. This is also true if you expand into travel photography, since your props may need to travel with you.
Building a prop collection is a must for every photographer. The good news about props is that they don’t need to be expensive to be effective. You can find many stores with props for sale at a reasonable cost. You can also visit flea markets or consignment shops and find a variety of unique items. Some venues offer photography prop rental, which can be a good option for one-time or limited use. Your options are truly endless.
To make the most of your photography prop budget, think about your areas of specialization first. Then gather a selection of props over time that meets your needs.
Food Photography Props
If you take food photos for blogs, advertisements or just for fun, having the right props is essential. It’s easy to understand why common serving items—like glasses, dishes, and flatware—are important props for shooting even the most basic food items.
Glasses, Mugs, and Cups
Clear, thin-walled glasses are the most helpful food photography props to have. The thin walls allow you to present drinks without any distortions or discolorations. You may want to have some short cocktail and taller juice glasses to suit different types of beverages.
Also, you will want to include a selection of cups and mugs in your prop collection. You can choose stoneware mugs for steamy hot chocolate or mugs with clever sayings for coffee.
Here’s another creative idea: Use vintage teacups as props with photos of baked goods or breads. The result is a quaint and stylish photo. Shop local thrift or consignment shops to find varied designs at reasonable prices.
Plates and Bowls
Plates and bowls are a necessity for every food photographer. Simple white dishware is something you’ll use again and again.
Look for bowls that don’t have a base so that the sides are smooth from top to bottom. These are great choices to display everything from soups and salads to decadent desserts. When looking for plates, keep the same principles in mind. Seek smooth, rimless plates with a matte finish to reduce glare.
In addition to your white dishware, stoneware and enamelware are good choices for photography props. Stoneware gives off an aura of rustic charm, and white enamelware with a colored rim can add an interesting dash of character to any photo.
Flatware is another important prop for food photography. While classic silverware utensils are always a good option, consider gold flatware to achieve a more upscale vibe.
You can find gold-tinted flatware at major retailers and specialty stores. Remember that lower-priced sets can tarnish quickly, so wash and dry these pieces by hand. Here’s a good trick to save money: Spray paint a set of old silverware with gold paint.
Wedding Photography Props
For every married couple, their wedding is one of the most special and memorable events in their lives. Wedding photos are treasured mementos that can get handed down through generations. Today, many couples seek to infuse some of their unique personality into their wedding photos. Having the right props for your wedding photography business is a great way to accomplish this goal.
Balloons are whimsical and joyful—and perfect props for a happy wedding day. One idea is to have the bride and groom hide behind a bunch of balloons. Then have them move the balloons aside. Snap a before-and-after scene to symbolize that first moment when they greeted the world as husband and wife.
Balloons can also be great additions to bridal party photos. Give each wedding party member a balloon and encourage them to interact with each other. You’re sure to capture moments of spontaneous laughter and cheer.
Many couples like to send a message in their wedding photos. Having a selection of banners can help them share their story with the world. You can use burlap banners for a rustic vibe or pennant-style banners with an elegant script for a more classic look.
Consider having a wide array of classic sayings on hand. “Just Married,” “Mr. & Mrs.,” and “…And They Lived Happily Ever After” are popular options. You can also order custom banners with the couple’s name or wedding date for a truly unique option.
Some of the best wedding photography props are the simplest and require the least prep time. A few twigs or vines twisted into a heart or a delicate flower held by the bride and groom can speak volumes about their love.
The wedding venue itself can offer up natural elements as perfect photo props. Gather a few seashells for a beachfront wedding. Collect pine cones or acorns at an outdoor wedding to symbolize the seeds of new beginnings.
Maternity Photography Props
Taking photos of moms-to-be can be a rewarding experience. You can make these special photos more meaningful and exciting for families by including photography props. Signs, toys and books, and baby clothes and shoes are great choices.
For many parents, a maternity photo is a way to send a message of love to their child. You can offer them various signs as photo props—from a simple handwritten note to a light-up marquee. Let the personality of your clients be your guide.
One fun idea is to affix a gift tag to mom’s belly with a long ribbon. Write “do not open” until the expected due date on the tag. Other parents may appreciate a chalkboard to scribe their own message to their baby. Alternatively, you can have a selection of rustic banners or wooden signs with classic sayings for your clients to use.
Toys and Books
Toys can represent the magic and wonder of childhood in a maternity photograph. You can keep a few classic items on hand—like dolls, wooden trains, stuffed animals, or cars. Another popular idea is using traditional letter blocks to spell out baby’s name on top of mom’s belly.
Along with toys, you can have classic children’s books as photography props. Position mom on a comfortable pillow and have hear read out loud for a candid and meaningful photo.
Baby Clothes and Shoes
Tiny baby attire is a cute addition to maternity photos. You can have shoes in pink, blue, and neutral colors in your prop collection. Mom can cradle these in her hand on top of her belly for a poignant image.
For baby clothing, you can stay simple or go all out. A few baby onesies with clever sayings will appeal to a broad selection of parents. Alternatively, you can find lacy gowns or frilly tutus for girls or local sports teams jerseys for boys.
Baby Photography Props
Many families enjoy having professional photos taken of their newborns. They may also return at regular intervals during the baby’s precious first year. Always have a selection of infant photography props like blankets, baskets and other containers, and stuffed animals on hand for these photo sessions.
When taking photos of newborns, you’ll need to take care to position them comfortably and safely before the shot. Stock up on soft linens and blankets to help you create a cozy nest for baby. They also add color, texture, and personality to any photograph, and the final product will be adorable.
Keep a supply of different blanket styles readily available. Have classic fleece blankets in pastel blue, pink, yellow, and green. Knit styles convey warmth and charm. Holiday-themed colors or designs—like orange and black for Halloween or red and green for Christmas—are great for celebratory seasons.
Baskets and Other Containers
Often, you’ll want to nestle baby into a basket or other container for your newborn photography session. Many baskets give off a rustic or natural vibe, but other styles are also available.
When selecting other containers as photography props, use your imagination. How about an old washtub, wicker suitcase, or vintage baby scale? You can find custom items, like nests, flower petal pillows, or artificial grass to use as baby photography props.
Stuffed animals are fun baby picture props. Since there are many shapes, sizes, and styles, it’s easy to build a selection of stuffed animals to suit every family’s preference.
Families may want their baby to cradle a tiny animal in a newborn photo. For older babies who have learned to sit up, positioning them next to a larger animal can show just how much they’ve grown. Also, families may like animals that fit with their nursery themes or mirror their child’s personality.
Portrait Photography Props
Your clients seek out portrait photos for many reasons. They may be chronicling a child’s growth, celebrating a right-of-passage, or creating a holiday card. For each scenario, the right props can help you create the perfect photo for their needs.
Numbers and Letters
Simple numbers and letters can help you customize any photo. A child can hold up a number that represents their grade or age in school. Numbers make great senior pic props, as well. Simply have your subject hold two or four numbers to symbolize their graduation year.
With letters, families can spell out any message. For example, each person can hold letters to spell their family name or convey seasonal wishes for a card.
Furniture can help you stage portrait photography—and can be very helpful for group shots. It’s a good idea to have several styles and heights of chairs and stools on hand. Ottomans and boxes work well too. You can position your subjects on different seating elements to manage variances in their heights and create balanced images.
With furniture, you can convey different moods in portrait photography. Consider the different feel of shooting someone in an overstuffed chair versus a metal bar stool. Having a variety of furniture options helps you adapt to diverse client personalities and tastes.
Seasons and holidays are prime seasons for portrait photography—and props can boost their appeal. You can get a lot of mileage out of cheap photo props for major holidays. Shop discount sales after the holiday passes for the best buys.
For Christmas photography props, consider classic items like stockings, wreaths, and Santa hats. Halloween photo props can include jack-o-lanterns, wigs, hats, and cauldrons. You can use flowers, heart-shaped pillows, and oversized cards for Valentine photography props. For Easter, colorful baskets and colored eggs will work nicely. A collection of colorful beach balls and other inflatable toys are perfect for a summer pool party theme.
Great Props Are a Must for Every Photographer
Whether you shoot for business or as a hobby, every photographer should strive to collect a wide range of photography props. These simple items can turn any photo from good to great without requiring additional editing. When you’re building your prop collection, you can start out with budget-friendly items. Visit craft stores, thrift shops, and flea markets to find unique props at an affordable cost. Creating your own photo backdrops and DIY photography props is another money-saving alternative.
In time, as your photography experience grows, you can purchase custom and high-quality items. You can even work with clients to design one-of-a-kind props that they can keep as mementos.
Always consider your clients and their requested theme when selecting props. Maternity shoots are very different from food shoots—and photographing babies and weddings are different too. You may find some props can cross categories, but some types of photos truly need unique props.
When you start to enhance your photos with props, your skill and recognition will grow, both locally and on social media. You can take standout photos that will win you new customers and help visitors find your portfolio online. Without question, photography props are a smart investment for your business.