Working with Props in Sessions

I thought I’d write a post about working props into your photo sessions.  I think for a while I pegged myself as the prop lover photographer.  Lately though, I’ve shifted away from it concentrating more on portraits, but I don’t mind whatsoever when a client wants a theme or props, it’s is indeed very fun, especially if children are involved.

I love both equally, but I don’t make my clients feel pressure to have them if they don’t want.  Typically they initiate and I’m happy to explode with ideas.

Before I dive into how to be careful with using props, here are some sessions that I thought worked well.

Backyard butterfly catching keeps a child occupied…

A fruit stand by a grapefruit tree…

To show a child’s personality and his love for…

Or even just for fun, something that makes a session sweet, like a Geronimo ballon!

Or to make a setting even that more fun to enjoy…

 Or just because the clients love their cars…

Or plane…

However, sometimes I think props can feel too forced, so you have to be careful.

Here are a few things to watch when using props:

  • Make sure it seems natural.  Flowers in a field, yes.  Flowers in the desert?  No.
  • Picnic blanket in a field or grass, yes.  Desert, no.  Honestly, would you want to sit in the middle of the desert?
  • Make sure the props mean something to the couple – I’ve shot with footballs and cupcakes because that was important to the couple.
  • Be creative with the prop – let them run with the kite, sit and drink the soda pops, some sort of normal interaction they might have with the prop they brought.
  • Try not to use the same prop in another session.  This keeps your prop using unique.
  • Use what’s already around.  You might not even need to bring props.  The setting you are in could have them – pine cones, apples off the tree, cotton in the cotton field, you get the point.

Being creative lets your clients feel like their session is unique for them, if they love props.  Have fun with it!

Equipment used: Canon 5D Mark III + battery grip / 50mm f/1.2L / 35mm f/1.4L / 85 f/1.4EX / 100mm f/2.8EF / 70-200mm f/2.8EF

Diana Elizabeth says props are fun when clients bring something meaningful to the session.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in her garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party.


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