Developing a photography style, especially one that is unique, is a daunting task. If you’ve ever tried your hand at photography, you know how much more difficult it is than it seems. I’ve been shooting pictures for almost six years now, and I still feel like I’m just winging it half of the time. All I can say is that it takes a ton of experimentation and disappointment to get to a place where your art has a signature. I’ve always been inspired by clean, minimalist images. For a really long time, that’s the style I tried to shoot in. As it turns out, I just don’t have the eye for minimalism. I love it and appreciate it, but my mind doesn’t produce attractive minimalist art. Maybe one day. Ironically, I’m pretty damn good at maximalism. Lived in, baroque-inspired, maximalist images are something I’ve become really confident shooting. When I began incorporating props into my photography, something just clicked. Today I’m going to show you some of my favorite props and tell you why they’ve helped me grow as a photographer.
Picking Your Prop Inspiration
Like I said above, my style is lived-in-luxury. I take a lot of inspiration from Baroque art. The colors, the luxurious quality, and the texture of those images inspire my own photography style. Because of this, a lot of my props have that same baroque quality. My advice is to look through art websites and books, find art that inspires you, and pull from there. Now, props can get quite expensive, so I like to get crafty with it. I keep a ton of props on hand so I can rotate them and keep everything fresh. My #1 tip is to look around your house and get creative. I’ve used so many of our decor items as props, rather than going out and buying all new things.
Using Prints as Props
Prints are an amazing way to take up negative space in your pictures. They can add texture, color, and impact the overall effect of an image tremendously. I’m a huge fan of the Taschen Series of prints–they’re affordable, offer collections from some of the best artists, and are a solid quality. The box they come in is a piece of art in its own right, and I often use that as a prop as well. My favorites are the Matisse Prints, Hiroshige, and the Gustav Klimt Prints. Taschen also has wonderful books dedicated to a huge group of artists–I use them as props and as sources of inspiration. Some of my favorites include Dalí, Koons, Kahlo, Rothko, and Basquiat. They’re so affordable and such a useful resource; I’m building up a solid collection due to how often I treat myself. Side note, if anyone would like a post on how to draw inspiration from art, I can do that!
Etsy is also an awesome source for prints (and other props)! One of my favorite shops offers prints of The Dancers by Matisse and another classic, Venus Rising by Botecelli. These are the only two I’ve purchased from this shop so far, but I have a few more on my list. I think the quality of these is great for the price.
Candles as Props
Candles are the OG of beauty blogging props. There’s really nothing unique about using candles as props, but damn do they look good. Not only are the jars beautiful, but they add a homey sense to a photo and give your subject that in situ vibe. I’m a huge fan of Fornasetti Candles, but I realize they’re absurdly expensive. To me, they’re worth it because the jar is so much more than a candle–it’s art. I have four that I rotate between in my pictures: Amatura, L’ape, Burlesque, and Flora (the room spray).
I’ve also incorporated the standard Diptyque candles–the minis are particularly useful for filling small or awkward gaps in images. I have the Mini Candle Collection $150; the box is also an excellent prop for adding height and dimension to your images. The empty jars are perfect for holding just about anything, but I like to put Palo Santo and Sage into mine.
Fabric as a Prop
Now I wouldn’t exactly qualify fabric as a prop per se, but it is an awesome and incredibly affordable way to add texture, color, and mood to your images. In my photos you’ve seen pink silk, gold velvet, and soon you’ll see some red silk. Many of my images using fabric are inspired by still life.
Using Trays and Boxes as Props
A ton of the boxes my candles and perfumes have come in are featured in my images. That beautiful white box embossed with Byredo is the box my Bal D’afrique came in. It’s an essential prop for me because it allows me to create height differences between my subjects, and it breaks up “clumps” of products in an image.
Decorative boxes make awesome props too and H&M home has some particularly cute and affordable ones at the moment. I purchased two of the Rectangular Suede Boxes $24.99. This is a particularly versatile piece–closed it can add height and texture, open it’s two trays that look wonderful in flatlays.
Plants as Props
I’m a crazy plant lady, but luckily for me, my children happen to be excellent props. I use my empty candles as planters for my succulents all the time. Make sure to drill a hole in the bottom for drainage though! Unique planters are a great way to inject personality into an image. I really love the Textured Metal Catch Pots $15 from West Elm (just checked and they’re having a 15% sale right now!) The 3-Piece White Loom Set from CB2 $12.71 is one of my favorite black Friday purchases I made. I top my plants with river stones so the dirt doesn’t show in my pictures.
Thrifting Your Props
I highly recommend heading down to a thrift store and getting creative. Some of my best photos feature props from the thrift store–these images were shot on top of a poster I purchased for $2. It’s now one of my favorite bases for shooting on. Ornate gold frames are a baroque signature and are super important in my photography. Every thrift store I’ve been to has had tons of them lying around. I bought a bunch of wood-based frames for around sixty cents each and painted them art-deco gold using this paint. For a few dollars, I was able to create some really luxurious props that are totally unique to me.
These are just a few of the props I use in my images. I’m always looking for new things to spice them up, but I think this is a great introduction to what kinds of props are useful to beauty bloggers. There’s definitely certain aspects of this post I could go into more detail on, but it was getting quite long. If you have any requests or questions let me know down below! There’s much more to come in my photography series so make sure you’re following me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Bloglovin for updates!