Stand out & sell more.
Reporting live from my kitchen table, here are 10+ easy prop ideas for your next (or first) photoshoot at home to elevate your product photos.
I use these prop styling ideas and strategies whenever I DIY product photography for my sensory candle brand, Spoken Flames.
And from my humble home to the digital & print pages of national publications, those at-home product images have been published in Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan, and New York Magazine.
Are you ready to capture publication-worthy product photos at home? Keep reading.
Make your product photography stand out with these budget-friendly prop ideas, and learn how creative props can make your product look more appealing, pique interest, and ultimately drive sales for your e-commerce store or product-based business.
In this article:
10+ Creative Photo Prop Ideas for Photoshoot at Home
1. Ceramic Planter or Vase
With or without flowers, a unique vase can add an artistic element and stand in as a sculpture. Adding plants or flowers to the vase can easily create a pop of color and life in your photo composition, but because the vase itself is so unique, it can stand alone and still add to a story of style and sophistication.
2. Books & Magazines
Reading material of any kind can be a versatile prop that sets the tone of your photoshoot. The book or magazine’s tone and reputation can signal brand values and add relatability for your target audience. For example, if your shoot is for a beauty product for women, then perhaps an issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine is a great prop that complements your product and aligns with your intended audience.
3. Fabric & Textiles
Varying fabrics and textiles can add texture and visual interest to product photos. Think of cotton sheets, a silk scarf, or a faux fur blanket.
Avoid busy patterns on the fabric and aim to find a finish and texture to the material that adds contrast and dimension to the background and overall composition of the photo.
Statement, classic, or costume jewelry pieces can add a human touch to your photo. The accessories can demonstrate style and offer a metallic finish that complement other props in your scene. If you don’t have a robust jewelry collection, you might consider a jewelry rental subscription like Join Switch.
5. Unique Trinket Dish
When I spot something unique in the store, I think: ‘how can I use this as a prop?’ Such was the case with this polished brass trinket dish from West Elm. It was an add-to-the-prop-collection purchase, and is my go-to prop for work or beauty photoshoot concepts.
6. Blocks & Platforms
Add height, depth, or draw attention to your product with the help of blocks, risers, and platforms as photoshoot props. Think slabs of stone or acrylic risers.
7. Wooden Dice
I’m a huge fan of these large wooden dice. It’s incredibly functional as a platform or riser within my composition, but also offers a texture of wood which can be a nice contrast again backdrop paper or another solid background. There’s an element of play with this prop, which helps add context of classic fun, without being too distracting.
Including cosmetics as a prop in your photos can be a strong brand association play. Is your audience more into Giorgio Armani or e.l.f.? Cosmetics can also add context for personal style and help your product shot feel more natural—like it’s actually in a home or on a shelf with other items like cosmetics.
9. Food Crumbs
The perfect food photo might be intimidating. Adding food crumbs into your product shots adds a human touch and helps the food seem more appealing since it’s a sign that someone is enjoying it. I’ve nudged many food crumbs to get the perfect shot and composition, so food crumbs count as a prop!
10. Dried Flowers
Turn florals into an evergreen prop with dried flowers. With a much longer shelf life, dried flowers can add color and visual interest to your photo.
Mirrors offer a reflective surface that can be used for interesting effects within your shot. The varying sizes and shapes of mirrors can add style and personality to your images.
Think classic candles, bendy candles, or other abstract shapes. Candles in your product photoshoot can add a moody ambiance and visual interest and help create a more lived-in scene.
Why Are Props Important in Product Photography?
Props help tell a story in the visual narrative of product photography.
They set the context, evoke emotion, and inspire product use and relatability into what might otherwise be a bare, storyless product shot on white.
Props can transform a simple object into a compelling and aspirational product, inviting your audience to envision your product’s role in their lives.
Through careful selection and thoughtful arrangement, photography props enhance the aesthetic appeal and establish a connection that resonates with the viewers. You can also increase your product’s perceived value by selecting creative props associated with luxury, for example.
How to Use Photography Props in a Photoshoot
Using props in photoshoots is parts strategy, technique, and creative storytelling. Start by understanding the concept and message of your photoshoot. Identify photography props that align with your desired narrative and that complement (and not distract from) the subject.
Choose props with textures, colors, and styles that harmonize with the overall theme while avoiding overwhelming the main subject. Balance is key.
Props should enhance without distracting.
Too many props can be a bad thing as it will lessen the impact of your product in the photo.
Experiment with placement, angles, and interactions between the subject and props to create interesting and dynamic photo compositions.
It often takes me a few shots and repositioning of the props to get into a good groove and find a desirable angle and composition.
Don’t be afraid to move your props around and experiment!
Consider researching the rule of thirds or leading lines, which are core principles of product photography.
There’s a science to how we view and take in information visually, and understanding fundamental photography principles will take your prop styling and DIY product photography skills to the moon!
Where to Buy Props for a Photoshoot
Etsy, Amazon, and my local department stores are my go-to for buying props for a photoshoot. I also venture to fabric and home improvement stores.
- Etsy: Offers unique, handmade, and more exclusive items made in small batches. You can even order custom items and work directly with the sellers, who tend to be hands-on craft makers and small business owners.
- Amazon: Good for common items, like textiles or fabrics.
- Department or Retail Stores: Think Target or West Elm. They are good for finding trending and seasonal home decor items to help set the context for a modern, stylish home.
- Fabric Stores: I love to stock up on unique colors and textured textiles. Sometimes you only need a half-yard of fabric depending on its use in your scene, but you may need more if the material is a backdrop.
- Home Improvement Stores: I love to check out specific woods, tile, or rock textures at my local home improvement store. While contractors pass me in the aisles buying tiles in bulk for actual home renovations, I’m souring the stack for that one marble tile with the perfect swirl that will look good as a prop in a photo. Sorry, not sorry.
- Prop Shop: I’m fortunate to visit Prop Haus, an archival shop of props large and small available for weekly rentals. You name it, from stools to board games, to stone slabs in different shapes. Prop Haus is a photography prop heaven. You might also consider local thrift stores near you as an alternative for props.
Prop Ideas: FAQs
What is a prop in photography?
A prop in photography is a carefully selected object or accessory, separate from the main subject, strategically placed into your photo composition to enhance visual storytelling, context, and aesthetic appeal.
Great props can add depth, texture, and meaning to the product image while conveying emotions, themes, and narratives that improve the overall presentation of the main subject.
How do I make my product pictures stand out?
To create captivating product pictures that stand out, focus on three key aspects: composition, lighting, and context.
- Composition: Create visually appealing arrangements using photography principles and techniques like the rule of thirds or leading lines, ensuring the main product remains the focal point while guiding the viewer’s eye.
- Lighting: Experiment with light to highlight textures, form, and details. Create shadows and be mindful of your light source(s). Avoid harsh shadows and overexposure; both are difficult to correct after your photoshoot.
- Context: Think of holidays, seasons, or specific themes. Use relevant photography props and settings that tell a story about the product’s use, ingredients, or benefits. Establish an emotional connection with the audience and set your images apart with a unique narrative.
How do I come up with a photoshoot idea?
Create a compelling photoshoot idea by establishing a strategy, story and gathering inspiration in the form of a mood board.
Start by identifying the core message or emotion you want to convey through your photos.
Other tips and things to consider while helping you come up with a photoshoot idea:
- Consider your product’s features, benefits, ingredients, target audience, and brand identity.
- Research trends, themes, and visual styles that align with your goals.
- Draw from various sources like art, nature, literature, and pop culture.
- Keep note of the photography props listed above for creative inspiration.
- Brainstorm ways to translate these concepts into visual narratives.
- Collaborate with a business partner, designer, or team to refine and expand your ideas.
You’ll ultimately want to create a photoshoot concept that resonates with your audience while showcasing your product in a unique and memorable way.
Your concept will guide your product photoshoot and define the perfect prop for your shoot.
Key Takeaway: Photo Props Ideas & The Power of Photo Props
Props exist to elevate your product photography.
They can transform your photos from a simple (dare I say, boring) product representation into a work of art that people can desire and aspire to.
Props can help your brand communicate its offerings, identity, and the lifestyle it represents. And photography props are universal no matter the type of photoshoot, whether it’s food photography or a baby photoshoot.
While one room of your house may be off-limits for the few hours it takes to capture high-quality and compelling product photos at home, and you’ll need a special place to store all the props, it’s well worth the mild inconvenience.
Incorporating photo prop ideas like books, linens, flowers, and jewelry can help make the difference between getting a sale, follower, or raving fan and not.
Be sure to tag me in your next shoot or photo session so I can see the creative ways you’ve used photo props!
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About the Author
Shavaun is a branding, design & digital marketing expert and the Founder of Spoken Flames. As a two-time founder and award-winning creative ad professional, she lends her global-client experience to help enterprises and entrepreneurs transform ideas into tangible brands, products, or services—and maximize their presence on the Web.