Adding photography props is a great way to make a photo more interesting and to help it come alive.
With that said, though, using photography props correctly does take some work and effort on your part. Thus, don’t just go out and buy photography props blindly. Instead, consider the following tips and advice on how to properly use photography props.
Remember, the Goal is to Enhance, Not to Overwhelm
The biggest mistake that people commonly make when using photo props is overdoing it. Sometimes, people wrongly think that, if one prop is good, several must be even better. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Remember, the whole point of using a photo prop is to add interest and life to your picture, not to completely overwhelm it.
Your subject should remain the main focus of your photo, not the prop or props. So, work hard to find that balance. And, always take a minute, before you snap that first photo, to step back, take an honest look at the scene, and ask yourself, “Am I overwhelming this photo with props or enhancing it?”
Remember, you can always fix things before you start snapping. It’s a lot harder afterwards.
Try to Make it Look Natural
In addition to ensuring that your prop doesn’t steal all the attention away from your subject, also try your best to make the prop look natural.
In other words, you don’t want to make your photo look overly posed. If you were photographing a flower girl, for instance, you wouldn’t want to capture her holding her flowers at an awkward angle and showing them off. Instead, you’d want to get her holding the flower basket naturally and effortlessly, which can be a bit harder than it seems.
By relaxing your subject and giving appropriate props, though, you can help to avoid shots were props look totally out of place and wrong. In terms of newborn photography props, for example, you wouldn’t want something totally unrelated to babies in the background or posed next to the baby. You’d pick something appropriate, like a bottle or a rattle.
Follow this same rule of thumb for all photos. If the subject wouldn’t naturally encounter the prop and if he or she can’t interact with the proper in a natural way (or at least in a way that looks natural), don’t use it.
Consider the Season or the Season You’re Trying to Represent
Speaking of keeping things natural and realistic, it’s also a good idea to think about the season you’re shooting in or the season that you want the photo to represent.
Thinking seasonally can make it very easy to choose appropriate props. If you want to represent winter, for example, Christmas photo props, like a tree or a candy cane, are an easy way to get the job done.
It’s also easy to capture fall with pumpkins, hay, and other appropriate props.
Photographers often struggle with how to add “time” to photos, but seasonally appropriate props make it easy. Plus, if you’re crafty and not too obvious or holiday-themed, your client could end up with photos that work for representing several months at a time, rather than being specific to just one particular event.
Match Props to the Subject’s Personality
Perhaps one of the most effective tips for incorporating props into photos is to always try and match the personality of your subject.
If you have an adult woman decked out in a nice gown, you wouldn’t want to have her holding or wearing cheap jewelry. Instead, you’d go for something elegant, like a string of pearls.
Likewise, you wouldn’t want to photograph a spunky teenager holding some antiquated looking prop.
When the personality of a subject doesn’t match the prop being used, it makes for a muddled, confused photo that nobody wants.
Thus, always try and match props to personality. Often, this is easy to do just by taking a good look at your subject and what he or she is wearing. But, you can also dive deep by talking to your subject a little bit, opening him or her up, and then using your insight to choose props and complement the subject.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to props. It’s not as simple as just choosing a prop at random and tossing it in your shot. If you can think about these tips and put them into practice, however, you should be a pro at using props in no time at all.