Top 3 Props Portrait Photographers Should Have

Whether you’re shooting in a studio or on location, portrait photography has the ability to become very repetitive. One of the most common ways to help liven up your photography is to use props. Props are fantastic for a variety of reasons. They’re fun, they can give your model something to interact with, or even spark an idea you may not have thought of otherwise. In this video, UK-based photographer Gavin Hoey shows three important props every portrait photographer should have in their arsenal:


Sunglasses can work wonders in a photo shoot. They provide something for new models to hide behind, a way to add some creativity to the shoot, or a way to make your shoot even more unique. You can customize them to fit your needs. However, while sunglasses can provide a lot of creative aspects, there are two things you should keep in mind about them:

  1. Hygiene. When using the same glasses over and over again, always make sure to keep them clean.
  2. Lighting. It doesn’t matter what type of sunglasses you use, you will get reflections.
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1/250 of a second, f/8, ISO 200


Hats are some of the best props you can have in your studio. Give a model a hat, and you give them an entirely new character to portray. Since each model interacts differently, you never know where a hat can take you or what ideas may spark. It’s amazing how something as simple as a hat can transform the way your photo shoot looks and feels. Like sunglasses, hygiene is very important to keep proper hygiene with your hats. Make sure they stay clean and tidy.

There are two important considerations to keep in mind when using hats: lighting and hair. Many hats have brims, and brims cast shadows. The bigger the brim, the bigger the shadow. While you can angle your model or use lighting to help counteract these shadows, you can also use them to your advantage to create some amazing photography.

Hats mess up hair. While this can be good to cover up bad hair, it can also cause problems for models that have spent a lot of time getting their hair perfected. It’s essential to check with your model prior to giving them a hat.

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While the shadowing from the brim of a hat can cause complications, you can also use these shadows to your advantage.


Fabric is one of the least obvious props for photographers, but it’s also one of the most useful. Often times, photographers hang up fabric to create additional background options. However, you can also wrap it around your subject for new clothing or allow your model to interact with it.

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Hoey shows how fabrics can be interchanged as backgrounds.

 “Don’t overdo the props. It is possible to go too far with props.”

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