How to Level Up Your Portraits Using Simple Props

Simple props are a quick and easy way to increase the production value of your images. Props can add visual interest and story to your images. I will start with a “walk-up” shot, then move on to making adjustments until we reach our final portraits using props.
Today’s model is Kiara, my friend. Follow her on Instagram here. My favorite camera setup is the Canon EOS R5 and the RF 28-60mm f/2L. Later, I will switch to my Sigma 35mm F/1.4 Art lens. Let’s get started.

The “Before Shot”

Let’s start with the “walk-up” shot. This image was taken in direct sunlight on Kiara. We used a basic center framing.

Step 1: Highlight Your Subject

First, I changed the front-lighting to reverse-lighting. We switched spots to get this image because of the translucent nature Kiara’s gown.

Step 2: Locate a Foreground Ellement

The last shot was okay. It was bland and uninteresting to me. To enhance the image, I stood behind the plant to add an out-of-focus element to it.

Step 3: Fill the entire frame

We moved under an overhanging tree to fill in the gap in the sky. The composition is now good enough for us to add our props.

Step 4: Add Your Creative Photography Props

Prop #1: The chair

A piece of furniture is one of my favourite props for adding to a scene. You can rent furniture from local vendors if you don’t own any. Renting chairs like the one I used can be very affordable at a day rate.

I placed the chair so that Kiara was in front of me and asked her to sit in this position.

Let’s compare the image with our first “walk up” shot.

Here is where I switched my 35mm Sigma lens. These are the final images taken at this location, edited with Visual Flow’s Pastel Preset Pack.

Prop #2: Palm Frond

This palm frond was my next prop. To create shadow patterns on Kiara’s faces, I used the leaves as a bobo. To create the shadows, I shot in the sun and held the palmfrond out.

These are our last photos, edited with Visual Flow’s Black and White Mixer.

As a foreground element, I used the palmfrond in our final scene. I turned to have Kiara sidelit by the sun so that she could see the highlights of her dress. To keep the frond more in focus, I increased my depth of field. I held it up, and composed so the frond wrapped around Kiara.

The final shot of this set was edited with Visual Flow’s Mood Preset Pack.


This video/article was enjoyed by me. These tips will help you add creative props to your next shoot. They not only add production value but also help to tell a story and create a dynamic image.