Level Up Your Portraits With Props
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
A few days ago I was looking through my portfolio and I noticed a pattern that had emerged in a lot of my images. A lot of them featured props whether it was sunglasses, a small stool or even a banana. You name it- I've probably used it. It then occurred to me how important props are, so I thought it would be useful to detail reasons why you should be rushing to your nearest pound shop to buy props for your next photoshoot.
The Easiest Props Idea: Sunglasses
A good model won't have trouble conveying emotion with their eyes. However, we're not all gifted with the luxury of working with super experienced (and expensive) models. So if you're taking pictures of someone you think would be great in front the camera, but isn't so experienced- fear not.
Try giving them something to cover their eyes with like sunglasses. This will help them to feel a lot more confident because they won't have to worry about what to do with their eyes, where to look and so on. If sunglasses don't match your style then why not try thinking of other creative ways you can cover their eyes... get weird with it!
Add Cool Photography Accessories To Interact With
Shooting portrait photography with props give models something to interact with therefore giving them a wider range of poses, again, especially for those models who are less experienced.
Instead of leaving them to stand there awkwardly, why not try sitting them down on a stool? Climbing on a ladder? Hold their glasses? There's a massive range of things you can do with props when it comes to interactions, it just a case of thinking about what works best for the vibe you're going for!
Want To Have A Quirky Photoshoot?
Now here is something that may not float everyone's boat, but hear me out. Why not grab a prop which completely contrasts with everything in your shot? If you're someone like me who loves creating somewhat weird or surreal images, doing this will work great for you and aims to provoke a response from your viewer which almost leaves them confused.
As photographers we want our images to have an effect on our audience. So how about leaving them with a memorable image in their head? Sometimes using props which contrast with your location works well to provoke an unusual response from the viewer... just look at this banana for example, what's not to love?
Tell A Story With Your Photography With Props
Okay, so a pillow case isn't really the best example of a prop, I know. But like I said, the word 'prop' is subjective in this instance! Anyway...portraits with props can add extra layers to a story that you're trying to tell, as well as giving additional information about someone's character or their emotion.
The pillow case in the image here adds depth to this image; we are left wondering what this person is trying to hide, why do they feel the need to hide and so on. In the pre-production process plan out what story you want to tell and make a list of different props which could help tell this. Is it a book? A mask? A baseball bat? A banana? Grapes? I'm joking. But on a serious note, it works. There's only so much of a story a person can tell, so why not add in something a little extra?
The Final Props Idea: Use A Prism
Lastly, have you ever seen images with a weird glass, mirror, light bending kinda effect? Well that's done with a prism or a similar accessory like a crystal from your nan's chandelier.
Using props like these in front of your lenses gives you cool effects- it may not be something which particularly matches my current style but it's still something cool to experiment with to see if you like it or not! You can buy them from Ebay or Amazon for a fiver or less- just look up 'photography prism' and you'll find one.