5 Tips For Sourcing the Right Props

placing props hands holding flower clipboard notebook

What makes a prop “the right prop?”

      1. When the prop helps the main focus to pop
      2. The prop should ADD to the message of the overall photo
      3. When you don’t curse yourself after the one shoot because you can’t use it again

Props are a fantastic way of enhancing whatever you are needing to photograph. They set a tone, bring out a mood, humanize objects, and bring a sense of life into a scene. It is essential that they complement your message, and not scream for attention so that it takes the focus away from your primary goal.

Here are 5 tips for putting together beautiful props that enhance your brand, say the right message, AND save you money! In this post, you will learn:

      1. How to narrow down your needs
      2. How to let your prop tell a story
      3. What to do with a mood board
      4. How to choose your props based on a palette
      5. Where to find affordable props

1. Think about props one shoot at a time.

Your props should be a part of a larger story, not the main focus. So make a purchase only when you know which shot it will go into! 

It’s a complicated relationship, I know! Especially when you’re going up and down the aisles at Target and want to buy it all! “Oh, this will be perfect for my next shoot!” And unless you actually know what you are doing for your next shoot, you might end up wasting your money.

Use every ounce of self-control to put it back and write it down on your Shopping List instead. Yeah! Speaking from the experience of lots of past wasted props.

You want each of your props to be intentional and purposeful. 

2. Let your props tell a story

Let your props be the guide to the main focus. Let them be what points your audience’s eyes to the main focal point.

So first, you need to define your story. Figure out the characteristics of the main character (your focal point) and let your props be the side characters. List the items you need to shoot, whether it is your product, ingredients, dish.

3. Make a mood board and brainstorm

Thanks to Pinterest, mood boards are easy-peasy. Come up with a board that will get the creative juices flowing and help put your ideas together.

This important step will help you to nails down the vibe and goal. With so many beautiful things to use as props, your focus should always be about the end goal and story. 

Apart from the cohesiveness of the message and purpose, the prop is only a pretty object. You want your props to be a part of the larger message. 

Tips for Sourcing the Right Props
Pinterest moodboard color vibe

4. Choose your props based on a color palette

Now that you have a great idea of the vibe you’re going for from your mood boards, put together a color palette for your shoot by picking 3-5 colors that complement each other. The palette can either be your brand colors or something unique to the shoot.

Based on these colors, you will find items with in the same tones and shades. If you’re photographing products, of course, you will put into consideration the colors of your products in your palette.

Here’s a tip: pick props that can bring out the features of the main subject.

Tips for Sourcing the Right Props
candle with props. books with crumpled papers and timer

5. Be creative about where to look.

Props do not need to be expensive. A little creativity, and more importantly, planning can go a long way. Here are some ideas of where to look for free or inexpensive props for your next shoot.


      • Your cabinets
      • Your stylish friends and neighbors
      • Garage sales
      • Antique shops
      • Thrift stores
      • Make them
      • Fabric stores
      • Hardware stores to make your own backdrops
      • Stationery stores for office props
      • Mother nature for plants and flowers