Whether your photographing children, your pet or your best friend’s engagement, the creative use of props can take your photos from “nice” to “incredible” in a matter of minutes. Just remember – the idea behind using photography props is to enhance your photos, not detract or overpower them.  Many household items, as well as those already cherished by your subject can be used in a variety of ways.

Here is a list of photography prop ideas to consider using during your next portrait session…

Photography Prop Idea #1

A Bench – A bench can be dressed up or down to fit a variety of portrait themes. Look for one with a bit of character as it will help spark more artistic possibilities. Experiment with your subject’s placement too – whether sitting on, standing behind or lying underneath the bench itself.

flickr: seanmolin

Photography Prop Idea #2:

An Activity – If you’re wondering how to photograph children (especially toddlers), giving them an activity to will not only help them behave in front of the camera, but it will also make your portraits more interesting.

  • Care for a spot of tea? A simple table, chairs and tea set always make for a charming portrait. Use this idea with children or with a child and their grandmother to create a cherished heirloom.
  • Rubber ducky, you’re the one! Make bath time portraits even more adorable with a colorful assortment of plush towels and bath toys. Take care not to go overboard, however. You don’t want to throw your photos out with the child’s bathwater!
  • Check out more children’s photography props ideas.

flickr: cmphotography2010

Photography Prop Idea #3:

Pets – Pets are always a hit, whether with their respective owners or by themselves. Try shooting a variety of scenes and in different settings to adequately capture the bond between owner and cherished companion.

flickr: ciadefoto

Photography Prop Idea #4:

Flowers – whether a single bloom or a bright bouquet – provide a soft, elegant touch to any portrait. Carefully mix and match the blooms, paying attention to color, size and shape so as to not overpower the viewer or disrupt the photo’s balance.

flickr: iboy

Photography Prop Idea #5:

Sports Equipment – Using a sports enthusiast’s own equipment really personalizes his or her portrait session. Consider adding trophies, letterman’s jackets or pom-poms to balance the overall theme and to portray the subject’s sense of pride and accomplishment adequately through your lens.

flickr: xtyler

Photography Prop Idea #6:

Musical Instruments – As with sports equipment, musical instruments really showcase the subject’s interest and talent. Consider focusing on the musician’s hands as they play or try shooting in black & white or sepia to end your portrait session on a “high note”.

flickr: revjim

Photography Prop Idea #7:

A Wagon – A wagon can add an element of cuteness to any baby or child portrait. For added whimsy, consider adding a seasonal item such as a pumpkin, Santa hat or Easter basket. Allowing a child to pull another along is always an “Aww…!” worthy touch.

flickr: tanyaspillane

Photography Prop Idea #8:

Chairs – Chairs create a more casual feel to your photos. Look for one that is both pleasing to the eye and brings a little extra something to the photo such as ornate back spindles, plush cushions, charming paint or an art-deco shape. Subjects can hold a child – or their loved one – on their lap, place on foot on the seat, or even sit backwards.

flickr: hedonaut

Photography Prop Idea #9:

Frames- Using a frame – before you frame your photo – provides a fun, creative twist.

flickr: luder5

While this list of photography prop ideas is by no means exhaustive, we hope that it sparks a few ideas.  Allow yourself to get creative with your photography props and really let your subjects –and your photos – shine!