Sometimes, no matter how perfect your portrait photography skills, time of day, setting, and pose you’ll find that your kid’s portraits are just missing…something. This is where a prop can come in handy – it adds a splash of color and interest to the shot, keeps your kids occupied, and can help to bring together the various elements of your photo. So, with that in mind, here are a few good props to have kicking around:
Hats & Scarves – A Kid’s Portrait Staple
Anything that lets your kids dress up is good – so look for cowboy hats and big-brimmed sun hats. In the colder months scarves and hats keep kids warm and can add a dash of color to your image, so consider it for kid’s portraits on rainy and snowy days.
Great Shoes / Boots
Shoes and boots are super versatile – an adult pair can hold a baby while they can be used for dress up as kids get older. A fabulous pair of brightly-colored rain boots, cowboy boots, or dress-up shoes can add a fancy feel to any shot and bring out some fun smiles in kid’s photos.
Cradles, rocking chairs, wagons, etc. give you a place to ‘hold’ younger kids so you can set up your shot, while adding a layer of interest to your photo, inside or outside. Keep an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores, then add a coat of paint to make it brand new.
Who doesn’t love balloons? In one color or many, balloons area great distraction and can add balance to your frame by putting something in it to offset your child. Consider your background, however, before you add balloons to kid’s portraits. You want to choose something that will stand out – so blue balloons on blue sky, or green balloons against green trees probably wouldn’t work as well as something that would contrast a bit more.
Much the same as balloons, bubbles are affordable and give your child something to do while they are having their picture taken – which can be great for shy or introverted children. You can get close ups of kids blowing bubbles, or back off to make the bubble-blowing more a part of the photo, rather just a piece of the puzzle.
Not good for teeth, but great for creating fun and playful images (as well as distracting kids who may not be the easiest to take photos of). Ice cream is good too, if not a bit messier for kid’s portraits, but sometimes the result is well worth the few extra napkins.
Tutus (or Ties)
From birth to the teenage years and beyond, nothing looks better on kids than a tutu or a tie. Start small and work your way up as they grow – you may also want a few different colors to match your backgrounds. Ask around, perhaps your friends can trade props so you can get a bit of variety.
Not just practical – umbrellas are great for sunny and rainy days, as well as adding some color to drab and dreary images. For rainy shots try an umbrella that matches their coat, boots, or both for a nicely coordinated image.
If you have difficulty with lighting in indoor shots, give a string of white Christmas lights a try. They tend to add soft, uniform light, as well as being fun for kids to fiddle with while you are experimenting with your images. For young children, string the lights in the background to keep them out of reach and give the kids a different prop to play with.
Perfect for swaddling babies, calming toddlers, or just providing a nice place to sit, blankets of all colors can add some interest to your images. Since we all have a few interesting blankets and quilts kicking around why not give it a try?
So, what props do you tend to use in your kid’s portrait photography images, and why do you like them? Would love to hear from you!