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Props – Why I Keep it Simple

Photography Tips

October 6, 2023


Photography – like anything else – has so many different styles. Just like if you’re shopping for clothes or even for a house, there are so many styles to choose from! It doesn’t mean that one type of photography is better than the others. It’s all about what YOU like! There’s a style for everyone! 🙂

Kind of like my son, Jagger, when he was 2!!! Haha!! He had a very unique style!!!

When it comes to photography, I like to describe my style as “Joyful, Natural, & Storytelling.” I love to showcase love & connection between people. I am drawn to real life, real moments, and real emotion. Although my style isn’t completely documentary, I love when moments are uninterrupted by anything “fake”. It doesn’t mean that I don’t guide my clients & create certain moments. I absolutely do! But…I guide them in a way that eventually leads to REAL emotion and interactions. That is my goal.

Since I try to be as natural & simple as possible, I personally do not choose to use cutesy or artistic props in my work. I like to focus on the environment around us and use whatever is readily available to us.

This bridge and creek didn’t need any props to dress it up or make it better! It’s perfect just as it is.
This beautiful dock at sunset was just enough to make this handsome Senior stand out.

However, there is one thing I always bring to a session, though…and that is an antique quilt (or two). I always have it so my clients will have something to sit on if we do a sitting shot. Although this can be considered a prop, it is super simple and doesn’t interrupt the natural vibe of the image.

And sometimes I will bring a chair or a stool.

This stool just adds a little bit of interest to the image. It doesn’t take away from the simplicity at all.
I usually bring chairs for large families so that I can add layers and depth (short/tall layers). It also allows for cuddling with kids/grandkids without having to sit on the ground. Plus, chairs are helpful if you have someone who cannot stand for long periods of time.
If I know I am photographing a toddler, I will sometimes bring a little rocking chair that I’ve had forever. It’s simple, neutral, and doesn’t take away from the simplicity of the shot. I have found that little ones love sitting in rocking chairs! It often will distract them from wanting to run away and you can get some precious portraits while they sit in it!

Does this mean that a client is forbidden from bringing props to their session with me?!! Absolutely not! I always tell clients that – if they have something that is special that they want to incorporate – they are more than welcome to bring it! I just never require them to bring props…and I never want my clients to expect that they will have props.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as a toddler’s favorite book, a Senior’s class ring or Senior jacket. Sometimes it’s an antique quilt made by their grandmother. Sometimes, like last month, a Senior boy brought his kayak and we literally put it in a pond! haha 🙂 I wouldn’t dare tell him he couldn’t bring a kayak! He’s on the fishing team, for goodness sake!

My point is that props are not wrong! I just choose to keep my work simple and as natural as possible. If I use props, I like them to naturally fit in with the shot…such as reading a book, sitting together, cuddling on a quilt, etc. I like them to reflect who the person is and help tell their story instead of just being in the shot as “something cute”, if that makes sense. 🙂

Like Booker…when I took his pictures during Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month, his mom brought a picture of him when he had open heart surgery! This prop helps to tell his story!
When I photographed these sweet boys at their home, the baby wanted to drive his car…his favorite thing to do! Yes, it’s a prop, but it tells his story, and it fit naturally into our time together.

So…if you’re one of my clients, just know that you NEVER have to bring props to your session!! You are enough! 🙂 And if we need a chair or a blanket, I’ve got you covered!!

If you’re a new photographer, don’t ever feel like you HAVE to use props if you don’t want to! Remember, they’re for some people and not for others, and that’s okay!! 🙂 However, if you love props (backdrops, toys, chalkboards, signs, etc.), then use them! There are no rules!

I just personally love to keep it simple. 🙂

Thanks for being here! I hope this is helpful! Have a great weekend! 🙂



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