The image above is a great example of a prop that adds to the image but doesn’t overtake the photo (and subjects).

Have you ever thought about adding props to your photo sessions? Props can add depth, interest, and deeper meaning, and even flair to your pictures. Bring along a mistletoe for those Christmas/winter sessions Love sports? Then use a football in your next family photo to bring out your passion. Stick around, because, by the end of this short article you’ll be more confident in knowing you’re choosing the right props for your next photo session!

Avoid trends.

woman planking on thable
Do you remember “planking”? Yeah, the ridiculous social media born photo craze of 2013.

While getting a few trendy shots can be fun to post on Instagram or to compare to others results – but you want something that will stand the test of time. You want props and images that are going to mean something to you in say, 20 years.

You do not want to be that person that looks at your professional photos and begins to cringe. Believe me, I’ve done it (remember when vaping was cool? Yeah, no. But I based an entire session around it…. Oh how the smoke is so badass! Ugh.)

Be realistic

choosing the right props for your next photo session
Everything in the image can be considered a prop. They were all objects that completed an image or theme. However – if something like this is out of your reach in time, material, or transport – that’s fine. Do it when you can – but don’t let it hold you back from creating or bringing something you can manage.

It’s easy to go wild and think of all of the things you could do for your theme. But you really need to think this through – entirely. For example, if you want to use seasonal props in your photos – attempt to gather them during the season. You’ll have a much easier time actually finding what you need (or inspiration for that idea).

The photo above is a great example. The majority of everything that we obtained was during (or around) Valentines Day. If you like to plan ahead for the following year – wait for a couple days after the holiday or season – and you’ll most likely find everything to be on sale!

choosing the right props for your next photo session
Here is another mini session that wasn’t too over the top and the props weren’t overpowering.

Also, we would all love to have uncle Bob play Santa and all the nieces and nephews to be elves… but realistically – would you be ok with purchasing every outfit and additional prop to go along with that idea? You see, while ideas are great and wonderful, being realistic puts everything into perspective (and allows less room for disappointment).

Size matters

choosing the right props for your next photo session
Here you see that while the egg is large, it doesn’t overpower the image and the connection between the child’s eyes and the camera remain connected.

This is a big one – literally. Short story, my wife and I had this grand idea for Easter photos. Years prior we had setup a little mini session – and while the photos came out great, the following year we wanted to go big…. Or so we thought.

choosing the right props for your next photo session
An example of the ridiculously sized rabbit we ordered

So the following year, about a month before easter we put an order in for a 6 foot stuffed easter bunny. You could literally sit in his lap – perfect, right? Wrong.

Related post: Posing tips for your family photos

Once it was delivered, we knew right away it wasn’t going to work. It was just too large. Plain and simple. It would have taken away from what mattered the most – the kids! We ended up gifting the stuffed bunny to a family member and decided to make the scene a bit more detailed as opposed to large.

choosing the right props for your next photo session
The size of this prop is over exaggerated by the focal length of the lens used. This is intended – very different from obvious oversized props (like the rabbit we ordered)

Think big, but not too big. Not too big to where you look at the photo (or the prop) and say (or think) – damn, that’s a bit too big, don’t you think? If you do, trust me, it’s too large.

Make it meaningful

This is where a prop matters the most. This is something I encourage every client of our to do. Bring something that means something to you and that you would feel comfortable being photographed with.

The image to the left (or above if you’re on mobile) is a perfect example.  The skull was a symbol of her heritage and symbolized day of the dead (which means a lot to her).  

We have taken countless photos of people with photographs of their family (or great grandparents). We’ve seen 5 generations of family in the same picture (including the family in the picture they were holding).

This is one of our favorite captures. There are 4 generations within this photo.

We even did one of these sessions ourselves. My mother and I (Jeff) got together because we ran across an old picture from when I was about 10 years old. I’m 34 as of writing this. The location where we took it wasn’t too far from where we were sitting – so we set out to not only take the picture – but to recreate it! It was a success!

I vaguely remember taking this photo as a child. But I enjoyed recreating it so much. Oh how the time does fly…

Also, the more the prop means to the person, the better the image will be as a result. Think about it – if you had a picture taken of yourself without anything – or one of something you’re incredibly passionate about, which image do you think people would “feel” more? 9 times out of ten it would be the latter.

Use what you have

Make the current season work to your advantage by using what’s available. You don’t have to go out and spend a bunch of money on props for a photoshoot, when you’ve paid for the session too! Keep it simple.

Related post: Finding the perfect photoshoot location.

Look around you when on location – you’d be surprised what you’ll find right at your feet that would look amazing in a photograph. Ask your photographer if he has any ideas or props they could bring along that could help with your session (we bring props for clients all of the time!)

We hope you’re more confident in choosing the right props for your next photo session!


Remember, props can be great and wonderful – but be sure to keep your ideas realistic and don’t allow that prop to distract the viewers from the real subject(s)! YOU!

We hope this little article has helped and given you ideas for great props for your next photo session!

If you find yourself in the SoCal area and are looking for a photographer duo (my wife and I!) that loves what they do – look no further. Contact us! Better yet, get to know us! You’ll find why we love doing what we do (and are so passionate about it!)

Take care you all! Until next time, be safe!

J&R

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