Sunday, 20 March 2016

Lifestyle: My 10 Must-Have Photo Props

IKEA Hemnes Drawers

Let’s face it: when it comes to our blog posts, photography comes before text. It is an unwritten law in the world of blogging. No matter how well you’ve crafted that sentence, garnished it nicely with verbs and flowery adjectives or used that fancy grammatical structure - the quality of your pictures will in the end decide, if readers are willing to indulge into your post.

About a year ago or so I published a post called The 5 Props Every Blogger Should Have To Boost Their Photography, in which I shared some tips on my photography equipment and backdrops. The post was picked up quite well. Since then I’ve come a long way with my pictures and feel confident and proud how much I've increased their quality. Not only have I upgraded to a DSLR camera, I’ve also honed my skills with regards to composition. Thanks to some useful photography props and intensive work on lighting and editing, I feel this hard effort is reflected in my work. For today's post, I thought I'd give you a quick heads up on how I managed to improve my photography during the past 12 months, including the 10 most useful props.

1. Natural Light

To me, natural light is the number one source for perfect lighting in pictures. Nothing else can give your photography that crisp and airy touch. Pictures are bright and natural without the weird yellow or cold white shades from artificial lights. My flat has this beautiful skylight which roofs the entire lounge. One of the rare perks of living in zone 4 is that there's no air or light pollution, so I can enjoy the London sky at its best: whether it be crystal clear blue skies, watching the fluffy clouds passing by in the day or counting stars from my settee at night. The lounge is always flooded with lots and lots of natural light which is a perfect condition for product shoots.

Skylight for perfect lightening

If you don't have a skylight, you can always try to take pictures near your window or, if you have the possibility, outside. Luckily it gets warmer each day and I remember that I used to shoot with a white board laid out on our terrace last year. The advantage is that you get the full exposure of sunlight  from all angles which will give your pictures that extra soft and natural touch.

2. IKEA Hemnes Drawers (£215)

I used to shoot with white boards and spare bookcase levels, and now I can call this IKEA Hemnes sideboard my own. I fell in love with it in 2009 during a trip to Cornwall when my accommodation had one of those and ever since it has been an integral part of my flat wherever I lived since. It's a stunning center piece that requires space to fully show its impact and be appreciated. Also the surface is sleek and reflective, so no shadows are created which makes taking pictures a dream. It lives in the corner of my living room right under the skylight and with the plain white walls, offers an ideal basis for product shoots.

Ikea Hemnes sideboard in living room

3. A Little Bench

This little bench came with my dining table and I now and again alienate it as my little helper. You can stand on it to take pictures from above and it also allows you to shoot from different angles, as you can just rest your legs on it and get into the weirdest positions for that perfect product shot. I must look hilarious sometimes, but uh well who said product photography was easy?

Ikea Hemnes Drawers in living area

4. Jewellery

Cute, sparkly jewellery works wonders for your composition, as it adds a feminine and personal touch. At the moment, a lot of people are obsessed with cream and rose coloured jewellery, so its always a plus if you include those in your photography backdrop. These colours are well balanced and harmonious to look at, so people will find those items calming and pleasing. Anything that's sweet and cute can be included in your product shoot. Play around with different items and see how your readers respond. For me, my MK watch and bangles work the best.

jewellery as photo props

5. Mugs

Like jewellery, anything that is cute, sweet and playful can be included into your photography backdrops. I picked up these two mugs through blogging events and they are both popular with my readers. The left one, is something most bloggers can relate to, whereas the right one is a personalised super cute and girly cup perfect for tea time. Both add a personal touch to my pictures and they are aesthetically pleasing. Their white colour supports my aim in creating a light and airy photo - mission accomplished.

photography equipment and props

6. Random Cute Things

On my Ikea drawers lives a collection of random little things which I have collected over the past few months. I got most of the stuff from blogging events, such as the Scentered Christmas Bauble, nail polishes, mascara samples and my invite to the Amanda Wakeley SS16 London Fashion Week show. All of these needed to be stored away safely so I invested into some acryllic storage solutions from Muji. They are of great quality and offer enough space for all of my random little things. Plus they are pretty and make a fantastic object to include in pictures. I think most ladies are familiar with the problem of having too much make up and a nice and neat organised hoard will always attract the female eye.

Muji acryllic storage solution photo prop

7. Candles and 8. Bags

Most women love (scented) candles and though I'm not a massive fan of them, they do make excellent photography props. I picked up this Maison Ves candle during last year's Bloggers Hangout Fashion Week and it has become a regular prop in my pictures. It is sleek, it is classy, it is white so it will support my aim in creating a crisp and light picture.

I've also started to integrate my bags in my pictures. I love bags and I feel that I don't talk and include them enough on my blog, though anyone who knows me personally knows how much I love each and every of my bags. I recently purchased a super cute gold dotted pencil pouch from Kate Spade. Not only is Kate Spade a favourite brand of mine, the pencil pouch can be alienated as a make-up bag. For the picture below, I love how the gold dots harmonise with the yellow of the Daffodils and the white supports the light and airy atmosphere.

Kate Spade gold dotted pencil pouch
photography props

9. Diaries

During my last visit to Paperchase, a beautiful leather Oyster Card holder caught my eye and I came across Undercover, a British stationery brand that produces these little stunners. The collection also features a matching leather diary with the London Skyline imprinted in rose colour. Absolute must-have, as it is so, so pretty. The quality of the leather is exceptional and very sturdy to ensure it will last a while and not fall into pieces after a few month of use. Have you heard of the brand before? The print comes either in rose gold, gold or silver. Which one would you pick? 

Undercover leather diary and oyster card holder London skyline

10. Quotes

Quotes are the most powerful identification for readers. Most people find quotes and "true words" inspirational and motivating as they can express your feelings, opinion and reflect your positive attitude towards life. This is very attractive to people, as you share something personal with them they can relate to, so I've started to shoot with my quirky notebook from Literary Emporium and a decoration quote from Paperchase.

I studied literature and love and breath it, so it goes without saying that I will include literary quotes whenever possible (and suitable) in my blogs' pictures. The quote from Wandsworth is so on point and motivating, its positive vibes need to be shared with my readers. Have you ever shared your favourite quotes with your readers? 

Literary quotes in photography

Thank you so much for checking out today's post and I hope you've found my photography tips and props useful and inspirational. The items I shared are just to give you some ideas on how to improve composition and create more engaging visual content. 

Blogs are different and individual and everyone has to decide, which props work best for them and their pictures. Some like to shoot with jewellery, others prefer to use structured backdrops. I personally love to include girly items with a sleek and classy design (not too many as I don't like it too kitschy) and those items shared in this post, have worked best for me in the past 12 months. My Instagram for instance has now a gradual growth and I'm more satisfied with my blogs' overall design and layout.

With photography, the possibilities are endless and there are so many more items that can be used to support the quality of pictures. Whether it be postcards, quotes, decorative trays, plants or white wooden floors - let them work in your favour and let your creativity shine through. What props do you use? I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Till next time,

xx CAZ xx

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