Incorporating props into your AM Studios Portrait Photography Session

As a photographer I love it when families come in with props they want to incorporate into their professional photography portrait session. Using props can add a unique personal element that I really enjoy! This cutie came in as our last session of our recent shoot in Eau Clair Wisconsin and I loved the old fashioned coke bottle, bell bottoms and bandanna the parents dressed her in. It was a great way to wrap up the portrait photo shoot before heading back to Colorado!

Baby wearing a bandana and licking a coke bottle in a portrait photo

Props Our Professional Portrait Photographers Typically Carry

In between fitting our photo rig, suitcases and ourselves in a vehicle to travel across the country, we always find room to bring a selection of props to the portrait shoot! Each portrait photographer carries at least one basket and boppy for accommodating babies who are not yet used to sitting up. For kids who are a little older, we also carry a rocking chair (magic for getting toddlers to sit still) or a small posing stool. Each professional photographer will have a varying assortment of toys and bubbles to get kids attention. Although more specific photography props can vary slightly between photographers, typically we have numbers up to the age of 5 for birthday photos, building blocks, books and some rotating seasonal props. Past examples have been love signs for Valentines day, Easter baskets, fall leaves and pumpkins, Christmas ornaments and pinwheels and flowers for the summertime. We also usually carry chalkboards that can be personalized for each session to write out names for individual kid portrait photography sessions, due dates for maternity announcement photos or dates for special anniversary photos.

Baby sitting in a bucket holding a coke bottle

Additional Portrait Photography Prop Ideas to bring from home

Like the baby with the coke bottle, I have found the most effective portrait photography props to be simple and small ones that can be easily added and removed from the photography session. To list some past examples, sports fans have personalized their photo sessions by dressing in matching sports jerseys, bringing a banner or flag to display, or bringing in sports equipment like a hockey stick to match a coordinating sports uniform. For maternity portrait sessions, bringing in a sonogram picture or baby shoes is common. Since all portrait maternity photography sessions get a free baby shoot to use afterwards, it can be fun incorporating a personal item in both the maternity and newborn portraits and pictures to see the difference. For kids individual photo sessions bringing a personalized sign with their name, baby blankets or a favorite stuffed animal works well. During this graduation season it is popular for seniors to bring a cap and gown and diploma to their portrait session, along with a nice outfit underneath to switch easily between the two. Regarding additional outfit changes, most families usually stick to one outfit but it is best to consult with your portrait photographer if wanting to incorporate a second outfit into your photo shoot. The availability of having a private changing room varies location to location and requires additional time so it is best to discuss this directly with your professional photographer.

Planning Your Professional Portrait Shoot

If wanting to incorporate a more elaborate prop into your portrait session, such as a 1 year old birthday cake smash that will take considerably extra time, it is best to inform your professional photographer in advance when they call to confirm your photography session. That way they can prepare and accommodate your props in a way that does not inconvenience the following families. When arriving to the portrait shoot make sure to communicate with your family photographer before starting the photo shoot if you have any props that you wanted to use. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see any of the props that I previously mentioned at first glance around the portrait studio. I learned on day two of this job to hide all the props until you’re ready to use them, unless you want to spend 15 minutes bargaining with a two year old to get away from the building blocks in exchange for bubbles to get the family portrait photo. So if this gave you some new prop ideas don’t hesitate to ask about incorporating them into your next professional photography portrait session!

Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m a portrait photographer with a heart for travel and the outdoors. Following my creative drive, I began working in the photography industry in 2011 and received my BFA in photography from Metropolitan State University in 2014. Since then I have found a home working as a traveling portrait photographer with AM Studios.

When I’m not traveling, I can be seen biking around my wonderful mountainous home of Boulder Colorado, running, experimenting with my film camera collection, gardening and spending as much time in the mountains as possible.

Ashley Flora, professional photographer at AM Studios in Colorado Springs