by Alex W.
We round up some of the best photography props for every genre of photography to help you add an extra dimension to your shooting.
Have you ever felt like your photography was missing something? Maybe it needed just a little sprinkling of magic to bring it to life?
Well, that’s exactly what a well selected prop can do for your photography. Whether you’re a wedding photographer, a food snapper or a still-life shooter, adding some carefully selected photography props to your arsenal is a great way to expand your horizons.
Here we’ll take you through some of our favourite photography prop ideas, splitting them up into separate genres so you don’t waste your time looking at things that aren’t relevant to your photography needs.
The confetti shot is one of the most iconic wedding images out there, and it’s one you really don’t want to mess up. Nothing would spoil the perfect confetti shot like… not having any confetti.
Sure, the guests probably have some of their own, but on the off chance there is a confetti shortage it certainly won’t do you any harm to have some on standby.
You can throw these instead of confetti, give them to the flower girls to have fun with or simply use them to garnish some of those all-important contextual shots.
If the happy couple have the misfortune of enduring a rainy wedding day, the umbrella becomes the perfect prop for some excellent romantic images. Get a clear one like this; that way you can still see the bride and groom through the canvas.
Here’s something that’ll make you actually hope for a rainy wedding day shoot, too.
Ask the happy couple to write something on it. It can be their names, an inside joke or simply a drawing, but a chalkboard makes a fantastic prop for wedding photography.
Letter tiles are great props for those contextual shots that showcase the setting of the wedding. You can spell out those old cliches like “LOVE” and “FOREVER” and place them on the table settings or alongside the wedding bands.
The classic wooden board is pretty much synonymous with food photography now, and for good reason. Is it overused? Maybe, but coupling bright white crockery and colorful food with the warm tones of a wooden serving board is a hard combination to beat.
If you want to go for a slightly different effect, why not try coupling your dishes with a rustic old stump plank. These add a little more texture to the image than a standard serving board, but still provide those warm brown tones that are so desirable.
This foldable studio is useful for far more than food photography, but it’s what I mostly use it for. It’s large enough to give some working room around even bigger setups and the LED lighting is very good for when you want a nice flat light for a high-key effect.
You can, of course, couple it with a darker backdrop and shoot for that increasingly popular dark style of food photography.
If you’re trying to capture the sense of refreshment that a cold drink brings you, you’re always working against the clock if you use real ice. Slow the pace down and take your time with a bunch of these acrylic ice cubes.
The difference between good food photography and great food photography is often in the setup. Give your dishes that extra lift by using garnishes such as herbs, spices, flower petals or even coffee beans.
Inject a little drama into your portraiture with colored smoke grenades. These can be used to do anything from adding a vibrant splash of color into an otherwise muted scene or simply to obscure parts of the environment and create a more mysterious atmosphere.
If you can’t find a smoke grenade, these little ‘bombs’ of colored powder are fantastic as well.
Nothing helps to tell a story in portrait photography quite like a mirror. It can be used to portray loneliness, self reflection (literally) or sadness.
Alternatively, mirrors can also be used to create some incredibly cool optical illusions in portrait photography.
Maybe it could be seen as counter-intuitive to obscure somebody’s face when shooting portraits? However, with obscurity comes mystery and intrigue, and masquerade masks are a great way to bring attention to a model’s eyes.
Who doesn’t love fairy lights? They can be used as a bokeh-licious background or wrapped around your subject in a darkened location to enhance the contrast.
Covering your subject in a light mist of water is fantastic when taking macro images of flowers or plants. Admittedly it’s less than ideal if you use it when taking macro images of electrical equipment.
Find the best macro lenses for Canon and Nikon here.
I don’t know whether you’d class this as a photography prop or a simple photography accessory, but in any case a 5-in-1 reflector is an invaluable tool to have at your disposal!
You can use it as a mini backdrop or a windbreak for your macro subjects, or you can use it to redirect the light and lift shadows. It’s definitely not just for macro photography, either – I use this in food photography, toy photography, portrait photography and macro photography.
You probably already have some form of cooking oil in your cupboards at home, and that’ll do just fine! Combining oil with other liquids opens up a whole new world of photography. We go into more detail in our list of creative photography ideas here.
Another generic household item that can be transformed into something special with the use of a macro lens (or a macro photography hack, if you’re that way inclined).
Strike a match, blow it out and watch the tendrils of smoke snake their way into the air. Get the lighting right and a well-thought out system in place and eventually you’ll start to capture recognisable shapes in the smoke. It’s a very soothing way to kill a few hours of your time.
Providing you can handle the scent, incense sticks are a great way to incorporate mist and smoke into your still life shots. They last a lot longer than matches so you can take your time, plus you can direct the smoke using a trusty old lens blower.
If you’re looking to create eerie and macabre still life shots, incense is something you definitely don’t want to be without.
Still life photography is all about setting the scene, and if you’re gearing towards a rustic or weathered style then you’ll want something like this to set your main subjects on or around.
You can really use anything from old pallets to discarded planks of wood – the more weathered the better! So, with that in mind it’s probably a better idea to reuse something you already have rather than buying something and trying to make it look weathered.
Well-used books have an entire character of their own. The battered edges, yellowed pages and weathered spine just add to their personality. They carry a certain sense of history that’s difficult to find elsewhere.
Shop around in your local thrift stores or charity stores and walk away with an armful of the most characterful books you can find.
About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.