To Prop, or Not To Prop? What to Bring to Your Branding Shoot

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A woman using small weights as a brand photography prop
A man holding a disco ball against a peach backdrop

To Prop, or Not To Prop? Choosing Props for Branding Photography

I want to preface this by saying that I’m all about making your brand photography session as stress-free as possible. Before you come to the studio (or I meet you at your location) we’re going to talk through an exact list of what you need to bring with you. You’re going to know every single item you need in your bag. From wardrobe changes to makeup touch-ups, I want you to be prepared! That way, our time together can be gloriously seamless. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about props for branding photography! Mostly, because I love them. If you’ve looked at my portfolio, you’ve probably already picked up on this. I love when clients plan to bring props with them, I love collecting props to use in-studio, I love working quirky props into sets. Honestly, they’re just *fun*. For many sessions they add that je-ne-sais-quoi that you didn’t even know you were looking for. But…

virtual assistant personal branding photography fort myers
yellow haired girl in room covered in newspapers

Not all branding sessions require props

As much as I love them, branding photography props aren’t always needed. Sometimes, your business needs some straightforward headshots, themed to your palette, focused on you (and/or your team) and that’s that. It’s okay for that to be the case! In fact, no-nonsense headshots are so integral to business promotion that I set aside a day each month to offer mini-headshot sessions with a specific color background completely free of charge. (Keep an eye out for Free Headshot Day announcements over on my Instagram!)

What are a few signs you might not need props in your session?

If your session will be on-location, combining props with the location itself might be overwhelming, or redundant. If you have a candle shop, and we’re taking headshots in your candle shop… it’s unlikely that we need to worry about selecting additional props because your setting is literally full of them. This all means you definitely want to consider setting when you’re deciding yay or nay on bringing props with you.

Another sign that you might not need props in your session is if the images will be used in a way that requires them to be focused wholly on you. Sometimes it’s nice to include a little bit of extra intrigue in the headshots on your “about” page, but in many cases, this is where we want *you* to shine. So think about the primary use of the images we’re creating when you think about prop use!

A woman seated in an armchair, holding a camera as a brand photography prop

Some props will be studio-provided, so make sure you ask your photographer whether you’re expected to provide anything.

Though I provide a ton of prop options for sessions both in-studio and out in the world, not all photographers do. As I’ve mentioned, we’re going to talk all about prop use and what you need to bring with you to your session before the big day. But if you’re not working with me, and you have questions about using props in your session, the best thing you can do is open the conversation! Your photographer will likely be thrilled that you asked, talk about the options they have available for use at their studio/your location, or offer alternative solutions to achieve the look you’re going for without props if they have none available. 

It’s absolutely no fun to show up for a session with props that you’ve painstakingly curated… only to realize that your photographer already has those items in studio to use for sessions. (You kept the receipts, right?) Or worse, they don’t match the set your photographer has created for you, meaning they’re not going to achieve the look you were going for anyway. Surprises are fun, but when it comes to your branding session, it’s always best to plan ahead! Communicating with your photographer is the best possible way to make sure there aren’t hiccups like that in your studio experience.

Weird is okay, but let’s make sure the props we use are aligned to what you do

Don’t get me wrong, I like to consider myself a connoisseur of the weird and wonderful. But if you’re a realtor, unless your business is “Pineapple People Realty” it would probably be a little wonky to pose you among an array of pineapples. Similarly, if you’re a raw vegan diet guru, it would be a little odd to include a big ole “SOLD” sign in your photo set.

We want the props used in your session to make sense for your business, so make sure that you’re choosing things (or your photographer is choosing things) intentionally targeted to what you do and how you do it. Otherwise, you’re going to have significant difficulties weaving your new images into your online (and print) presence!

Minimal white realtor company headshot

Prop use will depend on the nature of your business, but there’s always room to get creative!

If you have a service-based business, sometimes that makes brand photography prop selection a bit more difficult. However, with some outside the box thinking, we can always craft a prop-inclusive set aligned to your visual branding. For example, if you’re a virtual assistant, what do you use on a daily basis within your business? Probably your laptop/computer, your phone, a notebook or two… these make really effective props for natural feeling candids, to give a mock “behind-the-scenes” feel to your imagery. 

If you’re an entertainer, we have even *more* room to get creative with things! Admittedly if that’s the case, I may hand you random items just to see what you do with them. (Giving you fair warning now!) Beyond me chucking random items in your direction, consider what you use on stage. Are there sets you do that involve props? What about a microphone?

The point is, it’s not just makers and product sellers who can bring prop use into their branding sessions. If you’ve got questions about what (or whether) props would be right for your photo shoot, make sure to let me know. We’ll include prop discussion in your pre-consultation!

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