If you’re new to product photography and aren’t working with an prop stylist, building an prop collection can seem overwhelming. Here are my must-have accessories to lay the foundation for a versatile collection so you can save money and space and speed up your workflow.
Blocks and Baseboards
Blocks and plinths are commonly used in product photography to add height, depth, or draw attention to a particular item. I’ve used them on past shoots to drape necklaces or to place small bottles. The best thing about them is that they are super versatile and can be used again and again for different shoots just by repainting them.
In the UK, homewares store B&Q has a color mixing station where you can create bespoke paint samples. Just give them a picture or reference of the colour(s) you need and you can get a small sample pot for just £3. These little pots hold more than enough paint to cover baseboards in just a few coats.
I bought a set of Crazy accessoriesbut you can also find a variety of shapes on sites like Etsy.
Pinch dishes and side plates
I’ve collected a variety of small to medium sized pinch dishes in a range of materials from ceramic to glass over the years, and use them in the majority of my photo shoots for a variety of reasons. For example, for a beauty photo shoot, you can use a claw dish to hold ingredients you want to visually highlight, such as rose petals or chamomile flowers. Adding small plates to overlay your scene is a great way to quickly add visual interest and draw attention to your showpiece.
Books and magazines
Collect a range of books and magazines to add height and background interest to lifestyle scenes. I love chunky coffee table magazines to put candles on or in front of. Likewise, vintage books found at flea markets and thrift stores can suit photoshoot aesthetics with a nostalgic or vintage feel.
I can’t tell you how many times sheets come in handy, tucked at the edge of the frame or tucked under a plate, bowl or cup. I have collected a range of linens in different colors from pastels to darks. You can use a small handheld steamer to quickly get rid of major creases before adding to the scene.
It depends on the client you are working with and the aesthetic that has been defined, but many of my clients have loved incorporating dried flowers into their mood boards and briefs. The advantage of dried flowers is that you can reuse them over and over again, whether that means putting a few stems in a small vase or a whole bouquet as a background. You can match the palette to the season with beige, cream and burgundy tones for fall and winter or yellows, pinks and whites for spring and summer.
Every time I go out, if I see something that I know would be useful for my prop collection, even if I don’t need it for the next shoot I have on my schedule, I try to take it home if I see that it will be versatile. Sourcing accessories is one of my favorite parts of the job, and they can be found anywhere from local independent stores, flea markets and charity shops to Etsy or home goods stores like H&M or Zara Home. I would like to know which accessories form the basis of your collection!