There is a never ending quest for a ‘different’ look in the portraits we take. One easy way to inject interest in a portrait is to add a prop or two to the scene,. After a few years, you may have too many props adorning the walls, floor and ceiling and you may have to discard some and make new ones.
Some of my favorite props have been and 1890s tricycle, a 1910 iron and wood sleigh, a white wicker sleigh/bassinette and a couple of faux marble columns. The wicker sleigh made it easy to prop up wobbly babies and when leveled with foam and a blanket, supplied a nice base for tummy shots. Of course we couldn’t do without the ubiquitous baseball.
The marble columns came plain white plastic so I painted them to simulate real marble. First I prepared four buckets with white, light gray, darker gray and black water paint. Latex is fine. I placed the bare column on a large plastic sheet and quickly painted one side of the column with the white paint. A handy hose set at fine mist then wets down the Wet paint. Applications of the light and dark gray latex and sprayed with water allows the colors to blend naturally. After all sides are completed, a feather dipped in black latex and drawn randomly along the surface supplies the final touch. A c oat of clear acrylic will protect the surface for many years.
For Communions, I cut a 30 inch circle out of heavy cardboard. Making an X from two rectangular pieces of cardboard, I stapled the circle on top, creating an instant round table. Cutting a piece of white Dacron for a table cloth that just reaches the ground results in beautiful natural folds. On top can be placed a bouquet of flowers, a candle, missal or white gloves and placed in the near background of the Communion picture.
One photography prop that has many uses is white nylon tulle. Used to cover flower arrangements, antique boxes or any accessories in the background, it imparts to these artifacts a smoky ethereal atmosphere. The lowered contrast and softening of detail allows more emphasis to be placed on the main subject while adding interest to the composition. The white tulle is especially effective on a near white background. Large amounts of tulle can represent clouds or water.
For a rustic look, several four foot weathered barn boards can make a country look background for children’s portraits head shots. This easily made prop can be stored in a small area. A small section of white picket fence can be part of a beach scene or a Huckleberry country look. An eighteen inch long log with rough bark provides a handy place for young feet or to straddle. A taller log is handy for resting elbows and log sitting.