A simple and effective way to add production value to your images is through adding props. Even simple props can add additional interest as well as story to the overall scene. In this video, I’ll be walking through how to use creative photography props to level up your portraits.
Video: Creative Photography Props to Level Up Your Portraits
I want to show the creative process and how an image evolves to the final version. To do this, I’ll be starting with a basic “walk-up” shot. Then, we’ll be working step by step to make changes to the photo until we get to the final images using props.
Our model today is my friend Kiara so be sure to give her a follow on Instagram here. I’ll also be using my favorite camera setup: The Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2L. Later on, I’ll be switching to my Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. Let’s dive right in.
The “Before” Shot
We’ll begin with this basic shot before adding in any creative photography props. We have direct sunlight on Kiara with center framing and a trail behind her. Let’s start with our first change.
Step #1: Backlight Your Subject
I wanted to backlight Kiara due to the flowy and translucent nature of her dress. With the sun lighting from behind, this would create some great highlights. Already, this is a great improvement.
Step #2: Find a Foreground Element
Even though the shot itself wasn’t bad, I thought the overall scene was a bit uninteresting and empty. To fix this, I stepped behind this backlit plant and shot through it to get this image. However, I still think the sky and background are rather plain and could use some improvements.
Step #3: Fill the Entire Frame
To cover up the areas of the shot that aren’t as interesting, I used the branches of a tree. I found a spot underneath this tree that provided a perfect amount of background detail. By having Kiara turn to her side, we get these great highlights on her face.
Step 4: Add In Your Creative Photography Props
Prop #1: The Chair
One of my favorite creative photography props to add into a scene is a piece of furniture. A tip I have for finding furniture is to rent them rather than buy them, as buying them can be quite expensive. Check around for local vendors who service events and you may find some great options for props.
I positioned this chair right where Kiara was standing and had her sit with this pose.
Here’s the final image compared with where we first started.
This is where I switched out my lens for the 35mm Sigma. Here are some of the final images from this location edited with Visual Flow’s Pastel Preset Pack.
Prop #2: Palm Frond
I placed Kiara against the clear sky and I used the palm frond to create shadows on her face, like a “Gobo.” We were working with front sunlight and I moved the palm front around to get the perfect shadow patterns.
Here are some of our final photos edited with Visual Flow’s Black and White Mixer.
Lastly, I wanted to use the palm front as a foreground element. We moved into direct sunlight to catch as much light on Kiara’s dress. Then, I increased my depth of field so that the palm frond isn’t completely blurred out. I held the palm frond up and composed so that the frond wraps around Kiara from above.
Check out the final shot from this set, edited with Visual Flow’s Mood Preset Pack.
I hope you enjoyed this video/article. Next time you’re out on a shoot, try following these tips and adding some creative photography props to your scene! Not only do they add production value, they can add story and help create an overall dynamic image.
Before you go, check out Visual Flow for intuitive lighting based presets to get similar looks as we did here. In addition, for complete courses on all things photography, be sure to visit SLR Lounge Premium Library.