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Tips & Techniques for Using Props in Photo Shoots

Props are a great way to tell a story with your images
Photo of a mermaid photo shoot

Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes photo shoot to get your weekend started off right. In the below video, photographer Irene Rudnyk takes you with her on a natural light photo shoot in Hawaii where she shares her tips and techniques for using props for portraits.

You may remember Rudnyk from a tutorial of hers we featured last summer where she demonstrated how to use an inflatable kiddie pool as a dramatic backdrop for portraits. Rudnyk certainly seems to have an affinity for experimenting with unorthodox props, especially when water is involved in the shoot.

Below, Rudnyk photographs model Alexandra Zan on a beach and in the ocean in Hawaii using found props and other decorative items to add nuance to the shoot.

“I did this photo shoot on my trip to Hawaii to bring you some warm sunny weather with sand and ocean and beautiful island views,” Rudnyk says. “Also, in this video I will talk about using props and tips on how to use them and where to find them.”

In the case of this photo shoot, she brings a few props including a shell necklace for Alexandra to wear and finds other shell props right there on the beach.

“Here I decided to add a few more props,” Rudnyk says at the 3:50-mark of the video. “I’m going with the whole shell ocean mermaid theme. I added shell necklaces and draped them on Alex’s back and I wrapped another necklace around her wrist.”

The key with adding props is to make sure they fit the story you’re trying to tell with your camera, she adds.

“One tip for using props is making sure they actually make sense and help create a story within your images,” Rudnyk says. “Shells are a very easy and timeless choice for the beach and the dress compliments the scene as well. The crochet kind of looks like a fishnet and in my head, I was creating a story of a mermaid that just got her legs.”

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