Sometimes you’re just trying to take a decent photo for Instagram or your blog and your images just fall up flat. Everything looks a little plain and boring, and you just know it needs something else. You find yourself frantically looking around wondering “what else can I get in this shot to make it more interesting?”. I used to go out of my way to buy things that were only to be used for props, store them away in a box, and pull them out to photograph. I wrote a post called Blogger Photography Props similar to this one a couple of years ago – but I have changed the way I photograph and use props since then!
I found that these always made my images look very staged and also very similar to one another, always using the same props but for different posts made my feed and blog look very repetitive. I found this also happened a lot when I used to only stick to flat-lay type images.
I’ve moved away from flat lays mostly now. Don’t get me wrong I love the odd one, but I’m loving sticking to more of a lifestyle look.
When you’re just looking to take some fresh content for Instagram but find yourself falling flat on your face
House Plants and Flowers
The days of buying artificial plants/flowers are over. I recently sent all mine to a charity shop. I would get annoyed at my images because you could tell the flowers were plastic. You don’t have to go out every time you want to shoot and buy a huge bunch of flowers. I have easy to care for house plants that make perfect props. I also started growing a range of flowers in my garden, meaning I can easily source flowers any time of day. Whether that just be one single flower or a tonne of petals!
I get ALL my house plants delivered to me from Gardners Dream.*
If Instagram has taught anyone anything about me it’s that I’m a huge coffee drinker. I recently spoke about my favourite coffee on my recent post 10 Things I’ve Loved During Lockdown. So it’s no wonder that mug after mug filled with coffee appears on my feed. These could be captured from above or perhaps sidewards on if you have some cute mugs to include.
It’s ok to buy new mugs just for Instagram…
Think about what drink you’ve got in the shot. Coffee will give the impression of a business, productivity and mornings. A tea might give off a more relaxed vibe, perhaps pampering and chilling out. Then hot chocolate (which I only photograph in the autumn/winter) will provide you with a lovely cosy warm feel, perfect for any seasonal images.
Don’t forget you can add extras again to change up images! Cocoa powder gently fluttered on top, perhaps a teabag on a sting or maybe cream and marshmallows! It’s ALL about the details.
Books take a huge chunk up of my photography props. You could use books that have titles related to your talking point, or you could just use them for aesthetics only.
Pay attention to the colours/patterns of any books you decided to use. I try and stick to white/cream books if they’re not my main focal point in the image. It helps brighten up the image too if you have lighter coloured pieces within it.
Think about how you’re positioning books too. A pile stacked up high, or perhaps just one laid flat so you’re able to see the cover. Ever heard of a #shelfie? These images most likely contain books and are great at giving you some photo inspo!
Don’t forget, you could use open books too!
Another easy prop which I’m sure you’ve got plenty of scattered all-around your home. Gather up some of your favourites. I tend to try to stick with ones without any brand name/scent names on (unless related to the image). Most the time I’ll just turn a candle the wrong way round for photographs.
Remember to think about the little extras… Shall the lid be on or off? Or perhaps should the candle be lit? These small adjustments will each give your image a different vibe.
You could always just play it simple and use some tealights. Perfect if they are lit and are slightly out of focus in the background of your photo!
Depending on the products this can give a strong sense of femininity to an image. Products like these are fab because there are so many opportunities in terms of colours, sizes, shapes, textures. And different products can give off different vibes. Like a bright red lipstick will give off a strong, sexy, confident vibe. Whereas certain brands of perfume might give off a more luxurious feeling.
Something with natural tones wood/woven blanket/wicker
Like the photo above I have the corner of my wooden mirror poking into the image. You never have to have something fully in the shot. I find having pieces only just in the frame makes the image feel that much fuller and more interesting.
With blankets don’t worry about laying them flat, because actually, the exact opposite works so much better! This way it will add depth into your image instead of just creating a background.
If used correctly and not in ‘too much focus’ fairy lights can bring such a wonderful character to your images. I’ve found they fill in the blank spaces both in flat lays and in a more candid style. These are also PERFECT for any Christmas/Autumn type images you’re wanting to capture.
Your best type of fairy lights you want to be using is the *thin wire type like the ones I have. Others with a larger bulb will be far too distracting in your image. Try to get yourself some that are *battery operated, that way you can set them up anywhere without the need of a nearby mains socket.
What I think is one of the most important photo props you can have. Simply because they’re easily changeable meaning they can be used in thousands of different ways. I used to have a plastic trimmed rose gold rectangle one. But I found the rectangular shape difficult to photograph and found the plastic trim always looked cheap and naff in my images so I decided to settle for a *wooden one which matches my aesthetic so much more. If, like me, you find the letters/numbers have annoying nubs stuck on them from where you’ve removed them out of their original packing you can use a nail file to flatten them.
Or if you’re too lazy for that like me, I just edit mine out in Lightroom afterwards. (See the difference in the plastic letters from the image above and below? The top one has had them edited out, and the bottom hasn’t).
Most of all, think about the feeling you’re trying to give through these images. What do you want them to speak? Homely? Professional? Cute? Summer? Autumn? Cosy? Girly? And then try to imagine what objects you might already have around the house that might help push this feeling even more so!
If you’re stuck for ideas I tend to Pinterest search what I’m wanting as it never fails to give me a whole bundle of inspiration for creating a new image. So if you were wanting to write a post called ‘ Top 10 Books of 2020 ‘ search that in Pinterest and see what’s already out there.
I hope that this post has given you some ideas to what you can incorporate into your images from now on. It really is as simple as it looks. Have a look at this Pinterest board for tonnes of Bloggers Tips including photography, starting a blog, making money blogging and blog post ideas!
Let me know if there are props that I could also be using myself! Always ready to learn and adapt.
*= Affiliate Link. I get a small commission if you purchase through this link, it doesn’t cost you any extra at all. It just helps keep this blog running (to learn more read my disclaimer)