How to Use Props in Your Portraits

Have you ever seen those portraits where the subject has his hands folded in front of him with an artificial smile plastered on his face? Ever wonder why he looks like that?

It’s mostly nervousness, and it often makes portraits look stiff and artificial. But there’s a quick cure for it: Props!

Props are simple hand-held objects that help tell a story. And it gives the subject something to do. A good example would be an artist who holds his own paintbrushes in front of the camera, perhaps while dragging one across a canvas. When used well, i.e. the person and not the props are the subject of the photo, they help your subject relax and act natural. At that stage, you’re both one step closer to a more engaging portrait.

Written by The Twilit Lens

Freelance photographer and ponderer of the unusual. I welcome the presence of mystery and the unknown. Wonder is not absent from the universe, and there is still room for the child in those who haven't yet allowed their hearts to wither to dust.


    1. Thanks, Rob. This is actually an overly-cropped version of the original intending to focus on the props. The original is on my web site. The model’s name is Trisha Diaz, a very talented subject and a joy to work with.

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