The following is a guest article by Chris with SLR Lounge. To learn more about engagement sessions, check out their Natural Light Photography Workshop, an 8 hour, comprehensive DVD covering planning, lighting, posing, and post production for engagement sessions.
Let’s be honest, some couples are easier to work with than others. Some naturally smile, make each other laugh, and interact with passion and happiness that shows in the camera with minimal direction from the photographer. Others are a bit stiffer and require more work, needing guidance, tricks, and sometimes jokes to get them to even hint at a natural smile.
Engagement session props are a great way to help both the natural and the “stiff.” They add a personal element to the engagement session and create activities around which you can base your photos. They allow the photographer to move away from the traditional portraits and move towards lifestyle, activity-based portraiture. And for the less natural clients, these props can bring out smiles and interaction that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve.
In selecting props, try your best to ensure that the props are something that the couple will treasure down the road. For example, if the guy does not play the guitar, it might seem unnatural to include those shots in your session, especially to anyone who knows them. Also try to find something that matches the scene and the vibe of the session. For example, a vintage suitcase in an urban environment probably would not make much sense. Other than that, just have fun and get creative. Here are 10 Engagement Session Prop Ideas for your inspiration.
10 Engagement Session Prop Ideas:
The following photos are copyright Lin and Jirsa Photography, Orange County Wedding Photographers
1) Small Pets: Though animals are not necessarily “props,” we will classify them as such for our purposes because they serve the same purpose in our photographs, i.e. to add interest, to personalize the session, and to create activity-based photography. Pets can add a fun but challenging element to the engagement session.
2) Large Animals: Try not to limit yourself to household pets. Explore the possibility of other domesticated animals, such as horses and elephants. Petting zoos can also be great locations that have a lot of animals to incorporate in your photos.
3) Ice Cream: Everyone loves ice cream, and it can make a cute prop. The added bonus is that most ice cream shops will let you use their location for a few shots inside.
4) Picnic Setups: Picnic setups are great because they provide a natural scene, with food to incorporate and a great sitting/lying-down area for variety in your posing.
5) Frame: We love using frames for a series of shots. Though theyíre not necessarily natural, and they’re sometimes overused, they are fun and provide variety in the compositions and posing.
6) Football/Basketball/Sports Equipment: Action and sports are an easy way to get funny laughs and interaction between your couple. Whether your couple loves fishing, football, or surfing, itís hard to go wrong with doing something they love.
7) Games, Toys and Books: Board games and books are a fun, random element to introduce to your session. They make fun foregrounds and create laughs. Consider using them for your save the date shots.
8) Cars and Vehicles: Cars, bikes, and other vehicles give you a chance to introduce action to the scene. They also create great opportunities for foregrounds and places to sit.
9) Balloons: Though they’re a bit overdone, balloons fall under the quirky, random, and fun category.
10) Instruments: Instruments can add a romantic feel to an engagement session. You can use them for a variety of shots, from a few wide images to close-ups of the fingers on the strings.
Conclusion It’s important to note that props are an addition to the shoot and should not take over the entire session. For example, some pets are a handful and trying to get the dog to look can take up a big chunk of time. Make sure you take that into consideration and utilize your props only when necessary and appropriate. Otherwise have fun, stay creative, and be sure to check out the Engagement Session DVD Workshop.