Using Props for your Custom Portrait Session

props_bannerUsing Props for Your Custom Portrait Session

One thing I always encourage my clients to do is to incorporate props into their portrait sessions.  These props can be fun things to keep a child engaged or a precious baby blanket that has been passed down for generations.  There are many ways to incorporate props into your sessions and add to the visual impact your portraits have.

1.  Avoid Trends.  I want my images to have a timeless feel.  I don’t want them to look dated in 15 year or even 100 years.  Remember the giant bows that were being used on newborns 5 years ago?  Or selective color where a baby is in black and white but the blanket is in blue?  Those are dated trends and should be avoided.  Classic things like the Red Flyer wagon can add to the visual effect without making an image look dated.

2.  Be realistic.  It is easy to go wild when thinking of a theme for your portrait session.   That life size giraffe might have seemed like a good idea at the time but can it be realistically transported to your session and does your photographer have a great idea in how to use it creatively?  Make sure you discuss these things with your photographer first.

3.  Size does matter when it comes to props.  There are some larger things that work great.  Everyone in a field sitting on Grandpa’s tractor can be a great addition to the image BUT sometimes these larger things can also take away from the main subjects.  Your photographer will be able to help to make sure it doesn’t detract from the image.

4.  Make it meaningful.  For newborn portraits I always ask parents to bring in a baby blanket that maybe they had as a child or a special stuffed animal that we can use.  If your family is very musical we can incorporate a musical instrument.  Using props can increase the meaning of these images for you and your family.

This newborn portrait was taken several years ago and the hat and booties were knitted by the babies grandmother and that is her father’s hand in the image.

Using Props for Your Custom Portrait SessionThis young man loved to play music.  It was great to use his guitar during his portraits.  This image was used at his funeral  two years later.  We didn’t know it at the time it was taken how precious this image would become.  It is a cherished keepsake now and having him in the image doing something he loved makes it even more special.


5.  Use what you have.  You don’t need to run out and spend hundreds of dollars in props.  Be creative, use what you have and think outside of the box.  Want a fall look to your images but are having them taken in a studio, go out and collect those leaves and bring them inside to use in your portraits.  Things like that are free.

Props are a great thing to bring and incorporate into your images.  Discuss what you want to use with your photographer and see what they think will work and what won’t.  They might even have some great ideas once they hear what you envision for your portrait session.  Anything you can incorporate to make your images more meaningful and personal is always a great idea!

Want to learn some other tips for your portrait session read these two recent posts:




Using Props for Your Custom Portrait Session


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