choosing the right props for your photo session

Have you ever thought about adding props to your photo session? Props can add interest, depth, and an extra flair to your pictures. They also can help a ton with avoiding awkward posing or hand placement. Get your children to hold coordinating flowers for a spring or summer shoot. Love sports? Use baseball hats in your next family photo to bring out your passion. There are many different ways to use props in a photo session that can really make OR break your photos!

Avoid anything that gives away the era

While you might have recently seen a few photos that incorporate a specific prop, try not to use something that will not look really dated in 20 years' time. I've seen family's show up with their children clutching tablets or cell phones. Unless you are TRYING to document the year, those technical devices will be obsolete soon and, when those kids are grown and look back on the photos with their spouses, they won't see the beauty of the family- the first thing they will notice is the devices. Take the picture below for example: This woman is absolutely gorgeous. But when you look at this image, what is the first thing you think? Is it "Wow- she's really pretty"? Or is it "What the heck kind of phone is that and what is she wearing?" Think about it- Classic is definitely better in most cases and there are many fun options to choose from.

Be realistic

It's easy to go wild when thinking of a theme for your photo session. Think long and hard on whether you would rather have a photo session with props or a composite created. If you are looking for a seasonal image, make sure you are finding your props IN THAT SEASON! You will have a difficult time finding fall props in the spring. Before you decide to remake your favorite movie scene, talk to your photographer about whether or not it would look better to just digitally put it together.

size matters

There are some larger props that work really well in photo sessions such as using your grandpa's farm tractor as a background piece or, in the case below, an old rustic truck. However, there are some larger props that can take away from the beauty of the photograph altogether. Make sure that your prop enhances the photo and doesn't detract from it.

make it meaningful

If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or if you have a musical instrument that you treasure, feel free to try to incorporate it into your photos. This way your pictures will have more meaning to you and your family. This is especially the case with studio work. When I am shooting a studio session, I try really hard to incorporate little things that make each session unique and show the personality of the person I am photographing. I know a woman who had a children's book saved from when she was a child. She brought that book to her maternity session, then had newborn photos taken with it. After that, each year, she had a photo taken of her reading the book to her child- and then him reading it to her as he got older. I had the privilege of creating a collage of these photos for this woman to give her son as a graduation gift. How precious is that?

use what you have

I am known for finding things to use in photo sessions wherever I go. Make the current season work to your advantage by using what's available. Christmas ornaments in the winter or leaves in the fall make for amazing props and typically don't cost a thing!

Remember, using props can be the perfect addition to your photos but make sure that they don't become the main focus. Talk to your photographer about any props you are thinking of bringing- who knows, they might have the perfect prop for you already!