A picture can tell you everything in just one glance. If the photography is done right, you would just need one look to desire the item in the picture. This is the exact purpose of product photography. As a product photographer, you want to capture the essence of the product in a way that will sell. So, obviously, the most important thing is the product.
You would want people to give it attention left, right, and center. Thus, you would think through everything that relates to the product, including lighting and backdrops. However, props are just as vital. They can be a game-changer when it comes to product photography.
Let’s deep dive to the product photography props;
- What Are Props?
- Why Are Props Important?
- How to Select Props for Product Photography
- Props Ideas & When to Use Them
- How to Use Props Effectively for Product Photography
What Are Props?
Props are objects in the picture that are different from your subject and background. So, props can be anything extra that you add to the picture. It can be as simple as a DIY prop or a high-end store-made prop. You can also use objects that are already available in the space as props. You need to get creative to do so.
Why Are Props Important?
If you have not used many props before, you might wonder what is with all the hype. Here are a few reasons that make props vital to product photography:
- They create context. If you know a lot about your product, you would get what it does for a situation or application the moment you look at it. But, this is not true for your customer. You do not want your target customer wondering what the product is doing. You have to bring them into the picture and convince them that the product can improve their lives in some way or the other. Thus, you need to create a context within which your product fits seamlessly.
- They help tell a story. More often than not, you would want to show how the customer can use the product. Telling a story is the best way to do this without being too preachy or boring. You can fit all the props together and form a single narrative with your photo to sell the product.
- They highlight your subject. While keeping your product isolated is one way of bringing attention to it, you could bring even more attention by using the right props. It is because using props draws the eyes of the viewer onto the product. On the other hand, if your product is isolated, the eyes are forced to look at it because there is nothing else to look at. The former makes the customer believe that the product truly is something important because their eyes were naturally drawn towards it. The latter, unfortunately, seldom has that effect.
- They make the picture more interesting. Just having the product at different angles or positions can make your photos look bland. This is especially true if you are using a plain background or natural lighting. On the other hand, using different props can add flavor to your pictures. Also, you can use a single prop in different ways to make your pictures unique.
- They can help you get more creative. While the product is fixed, you can choose from a variety of props. This gives you the freedom to choose from and helps a ton of ideas run wild through your head. Further, using props brings diversity to your pictures. They allow you to use them in many ways. You can even go super high concept and bring your ideas alive with props.
How To Select Props for Product Photography?
While using props is important for product photography, you must ensure that you use the right ones. Otherwise, you might end up making your picture worse instead of enhancing it. Here are some things you can keep in mind while selecting props:
- The idea
Before you go into selecting props, you should conceptualize the kind of photo you would like to take. Then, you should ask what exactly you are using the props for. Is it to tell a story or is it to improve the beauty of the shot? You must then filter props accordingly.
The below video gives you support to getting more about How to Choose Photography Props.
- Colors And Textures
You must remember that you want to hero the product. Therefore, you must choose props that do not clash with the product in terms of colors or textures. You want to make sure that the props and your product look like they are part of the same story. At the same time, you do not want to have colors that are too similar to your product. Doing so would take at least some attention away from your product.
- The number
Some shots call for multiple props while others do fine with just one. Before selecting props, you must think of how many props you are going to use. In case you come up with a number that is greater than 1, you want to ensure that all these props go well with each other. For example, you can stack props one above the other to create a cohesive look. On the other hand, you do not want too many props that compete with each other.
- The Brand
Product photography is often commercial. So you would find yourself shooting for different brands. Each brand has a unique identity that they want to convey to their customers. Hence, while you should hero their product, you should also remember the values of their brand. You should choose props that complement them and make the customers remember their values. For example, if you are shooting something for a vegan company, you cannot choose meat-based items as your props.
Prop Ideas and When To Use Them (5 Amazing Ideas)
If you have taken to the use of props, you must be already wondering about the props you are going to use for your next photo. Here are some prop ideas that could inspire you:
- Some Greenery
If you want your product to look natural, you want to depict it just as it is. You want your customer to get an accurate picture of how your product looks. In this situation, you do not want to add props that look artificial. That would not go too well with the theme. At the same time, you do not want your photo to look bland. So, you can add some plants to make things more interesting. They would even add color to your picture, all the while keeping it natural.
These props have different textures, thus making your photo look unique. You can even customize them to your own liking. Also, they provide support to your products. If you want to have some fun using your props, you can use foam.
Nothing says product photography like cubes. They are versatile and at the same time very pleasing to look at. You can form different structures with them so that they take the eyes of the customer towards your product. Also, you can stack them up to form various shapes. If needed, cubes can support the product. You can make the product lean against the cubes.
- Transparent Props
If you are going monochromatic or using white as the theme, you can use transparent props to enhance your picture. These will not compete for attention. On the other hand, they fade into the background thus making your product the hero of the shot.
- Geometric Shapes
Depending on the kind of product you are shooting, you can use different geometric shapes to create magic. You can make your product rest on those shapes or simply use them to improve the visual impact. Also, you can choose some uncommon shapes to make the viewer stop and look at your picture for a little longer.
How To Use Props Effectively For Product Photography?
The right props will not do the trick if you do not use them in the right way. So, here are two great tips to help you with that
- Be mindful of the position. You want to position your props in a unique and fun way. At the same time, it should complement your product. You should also ensure that it is not the first thing you see when you look at the picture.
- Be aware of the shadows they create. One of the most important things about product photography is the lighting. Your props might create shadows. However, you should ensure that these shadows do not have a negative impact on how your product looks.
Choosing the right props and using them effectively can take your picture to a whole other level. You must thus allow your creativity to take control and have fun with your props. This will help you get an incredible shot.
Justin Parker is a professional photographer and has been in the industry since 2007. He attended the University of Georgia. Justin combines his passion for photography and his interest in writing to give life to this blog which talks about photography in order to help and inspire young photographers.