If you search under the hashtag #cwpprops on instagram, you will see a lot of different props in action – some expected, some less so. So how do you decide what props to bring on a photoshoot? I like to take a two-pronged approach to this question. One way to go is to think about your ideal customer or client that you want to attract. What are they like? What magazines or brands or products do they like? Chances are if you are reading this, that your peeps love the Apple brand. They may like Real Simple magazine with all it’s light and airy whitespace. They may be into Virgin and how hip, friendly and colorful they are.
Then simply take a look around the house and see what objects pop out at you as possible objects that your clients might respond to, and basically just LIKE. Your laptop, your Kate Spade planner, a cool artsy postcard you picked up on your wanderluxe gypset travels (yes I just actually said that). Think outside the box – a scarf can also be a picnic blanket or a tale cloth of sorts. A mug can hold your paintbrushes. A picture of your pup can serve as a bookmark. Smudging sage, a farmer’s market tote bag, a trophy or award, a family heirloom, a handful of crystals or shells…
If you are coming to me in my LA home, you can peruse the #cwptreehouse hashtag entries – a lot of this stuff lives at my place – and if you wonder how I keep my plants and bowls of lemons looking so perfect – the answer is: they’re not real! (Well, they’re REAL I mean I can touch them…but yes my loves, they are indeed plastic and they photograph just beautifully.) You can use flowers as props, and you can also tear the petals off and throw them in the air. Or balloons. Or sparkles!!! (And there is a whole specific way to blow sparkles that will have to be it’s own post at some point…) Shoes can serve as props, as can food, a parasol, champagne, coasters, trays, books, candles, statuettes, bowls, jewelry, cameras, pillows, blankets, recipe cards, arts and crafts, dream boards, chocolates (go ahead and bring that empty box of Jacques Torres or Godivas – I have a box from one of my favorites – Valerie of Echo Park).
The point is to simply have fun, get a little creative, and give yourself fun things to touch and interact with and play with on your shoot. The second way to approach props is to simply forget about business and your ideal clients, and simply just fantasize. Remember your favorite bedtime stories or Greek myths? I have always had a love affair with Sleeping Beauty, Helen of Troy, and Lady and the Tramp (let me know if you wanna ham it up with a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs – and don’t forget your Chihuahua!*) If you think it’s crazy, and you don’t even know how to use it exactly, BRING IT. Assemble your props a week in advance and start packing stuff up – if it feels like too much, you can start refining it. I think a tote bag or two are just fine, depending on how big your props are. Pillows and blankets can take up a lot of room, but they’re quite light. Ask your photographer if they might have specific props that you would like to use – usually they can tell you what they have so you won’t need lug anything they’ve already got.
(*always clear pets ahead of time with ANY photographer and best to have a loved one bring the furry guy for only the parts of the shoot where Miss Fluffy is needed.)