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If you’ve ever seen any professional photo sessions done, you would know photographers often use objects or various other items in the photos. These things are called props, and they are used by photographers in order to enhance or add to the visual interest within a picture. Today, I’d like to go more in depth of the purpose of props.
While some props are just there to look good, others are truly there for a functional purpose. When you see photos of families outside, oftentimes they're sitting on a plain blanket provided by their photographer. It would look pretty silly for the family just to be sitting on the bare ground, and in addition it could be dirty or uneven. Plus, the blanket underneath provides a contrast to the environment, and may even draw attention to the family being the subject. Other practical props include benches, boxes, or stools for individuals to sit on. This is similar to the reasons for a blanket, but it can also add in further visual interest and a new dynamic pose in a photo.
Personally, I also really like adding some cute props into sessions like bundles of flowers from the environment. Sometimes if I am doing an outdoor session, I’ll pick some of the nearby wild flowers and make a small bouquet for a photo, and often have one of the little ones hold onto it.
Since I often specialize in newborn sessions, these sorts of props are especially in my element. Newborn session use of props are very much so to enhance the docile pictures that come with their pictures. Infants have a grasping reflex (called the palmer grasp reflex), that happens when you touch their palm. Have you ever noticed a little baby clutching your finger when you put it in their hand? That's the reason why, and I use this same reflex to get little tiny babies to hold the cutest props!
Some people chose to use no props, and others have very prop based/themed sessions where props make sense! However, it’s a fine line between enhancing the photo and making it look far too busy. Photographers will often have ideas of props to use ahead of time for your session, so it’s not often something you as the client need to concern yourself with.
Props have a lot of purpose, and while they aren’t the central focus of a photo, they can certainly add to the visual interest of it. If you have a specific idea for a prop, always feel free to communicate with your photographer and try to brainstorm a way to add in said prop.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me here ! Wishing everyone the best!