One of my most asked questions is regarding blog photography. I answered a few queries in my Blog Photography Tips #1, and I'm thinking of turning my response into a little series here on BTB, with today's edition being dedicated to blog props, and what I like to use to spruce up my layouts - so let's get started!
Props are items of interest that sit within your photographs, not taking away the limelight from your focal objects, but sass up the composition of your pics and stop them from looking like a blank, promotional piece from a catalogue. Whilst sometimes I do like to feature an item on a plain, white background and keep things really simple, props can often make a photograph, giving the item context and grounding.
You can literally use anything. It doesn't have to be anything specific or pricey - in fact most of my favourite pieces are almost free, and I can't think of many props I use that are over £20.
Any pretty notebooks, postcards, planners, clips, pins and pens are fab, versatile props that can add some colour, graphics, glitz or geometry to your photo. I love these subtley textured notebooks, this botanical rose journal or this DIY sticker book! TKmaxx, Kikki K, Selfridges and John Lewis are great places to scout out some pretty stationery - I'm hopelessly attracted to gold foiling at the moment. And you don't have to go out and drop all your cash for lots of little trinkets, in the above snap I've just used the one marble notebook (similar) in all four photos.
Any books or magazines that coordinate with the other items in your photo is fair game - maybe that's a nice, leather-bound hardback, or Alexa Chung's IT, or some monochrome text from a page in a magazine. Magazines are great as they cost next to nothing and you can get a lot of use out of just one by using the cover as well as different pages inside, like I've done in the above photo from my review of the NARS Tribulation highlighter.
A little bowl of blueberries, a smoothie or cup of coffee, a croissant, some macarons; food and drink is definitely a cheap and easy prop to add to photographs. You can tie in the colours to other items in the photo, like maybe using pale pink tulips with some pastel macarons, or giving things a little pop of contrast, like a bowl of bright berries amongst a monochrome background. And the bonus is you can eat it right after you're done taking photographs!
Trays & Dishes
Another really versatile prop, little trays or trinket dishes are great for zoning products in your photograph, but don't be scared about going 'over the edges' either, I sometimes like things 'spilling over' into the white space. I love my little square, candle tray from Ikea or this marble one - I think white and marble are my favourite types of tray to look for, and are pretty much all I use, like the white tray in my Making Sense of Korean Skincare post, and like you can see in the above snap.
Paper & Cardboard
One of the cheapest and most versatile items that can instantly alter the look of your photographs. Try using some coloured card as your background, just a change up in colour can bring a little life to your photos - I like the idea of picking a selection of pink lipsticks for example, and laying them all out on a pink background. Or perhaps try laying coloured card at an angle across a white or coloured background a la Jacob Reischel, and that could be all the prop-age you need, it's really effective. You could also try tearing the edge of the card for a raw finish, turning some paper into origami (scattering a handful of origami flowers would be really pretty actually..) or even using some torn up pieces to display lippie swatches (although I tried this with very textured, rough paper and a Tom Ford lipstick and it didn't end well, so stick with a smoother grain!).
Plants & Flowers
These make an appearance in a lot of my photographs - it was pretty hard narrowing it down to the 8 above! I love adding some greenery to my photos - plants often have quite structural forms which I find interesting, and green works really well with black, white and gold tones, which are colours I really like to use. Fresh flowers are an obvious choice, but for very good reason! I like to have them in the house as much as possible anyway, so often nab a few to include in a flatlay for example. And don't think you need to have roses or peonies, or anything expensive, wild flowers or inexpensive/seasonal flowers are just as good. Top tip is to pick off the petals when a flower is old and looking worse for wear, and scatter them amongst a flatlay, it's almost like you get a second use from them! Have a look at my Kevyn Aucoin Neo Bronzer post (somewhat tropical flora) or Etude House Real Powder Cushion review (flouncy white petals) for some inspiration.
If you've beautiful makeup brushes or pretty palette packaging, give them a secondary use as props. I love to include my Nars Yachiyo brush, it's all black so goes with most things, although there are so many pretty brushes to choose from, any Zoeva brush for example, these jazzy Spectrum brushes or the RT Bold Metals range. Lash curlers are a good one to use too, I love including my rose gold ones in lots of photographs, the unusual shape gives them interest, or a pretty perfume bottle never goes amiss, I love this beautiful one from Guerlain, and the scents a stunner to match.
Frames & Ornaments
I love this geometric copper photo frame but any pretty frame adds a little detail to a photo - once again TKmaxx and Homesense have lots of affordable but stylish numbers. And don't feel you need to fill them with personal photos; a print, some text, or even a magazine cutting are all viable options. As for ornaments, think about from what angle you take most of your photos from - if you're a flatlay lover for example, choose something that's going to look pretty/recognisable from above. I'm in love with this adorable ring holder (similar here that's equally as cute), en-scripted 'Every bunny needs somebunny' - heart. melt.
I do like adding fabrics into my photos - playing with textures is a great way to add interest whilst keeping a monotonal colour palette - I'm yet to do the perfect white photo with all white items and maybe some white fur or linen in the background, but I love that whole style! Try using your bed linen, a rug, decorative scarves, woolly knits or some ribbon and create some shape and shadow by positioning pliable fabrics into folds and pleats - you can even use a piece of clothing, like the embellished top in the main photo for this post.
Candles & Holders
There are so many aesthetically beautiful candles around, they make for lovely props as they often have just enough shape and text to add interest, without distracting too much, and you can blur them in the background, something I really like to do, and still make out what they are. Diptique, Jo Malone, Tom Dixon, Aquiesse, Byredo and Cocolux all have beautiful candles if you want a luxe option, or try The White Company, H&M or Sainsburys for something a little more affordable - I actually think M&S candles are excellent value, I picked up a huge, glass, multiwick candle (which was legitimately delicious) for only around £12.
Try taking a look around the house for suitable items, or parts of items, to use, starting off with something that colour coordinates with whatever focal items you want to feature. For example, our grey sofa ties in nicely with monochrome items and I love using the pretty fire surround in the new place as a platform for products. Or alternatively, DIY yourself something beautiful like this gold and marble table.
This is one of my favourites. A really simple but effective way to showcase a product and fill some blank space within a photograph is to add in a little of yourself. If you've got shoes for example, show them on your feet, if it's a lipstick or blush, show your hand holding it, if it's a hairbrush, show your readers you brushing your hair with it. It seems really obvious but sometimes, that's all you need.
And with that, I'll round things up here! I think 'anything pretty' is worthy of decorating your photographs and I hope I've given you some ideas and tips. Just think about colours, shapes and textures and have a play around - I know I've broken these down into categories but I think some of my favourite photos are when I jumble numerous props in together, and perfecting that just comes with a bit of practise!
What are your favourite blogging props to play with? And let me know what you'd like to see next in this Blog Photography Tips series!
P.S Have you seen Part 1 of my Korean Skincare & Makeup Haul?
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