Best Prop Ideas for Professional Photos in Costa Rica
Props can turn an ordinary photoshoot into an extraordinary photoshoot. They can also give you something to do or to hold if you feel a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera. If you're going to spend money on professional photos in Costa Rica, I recommend taking a few minutes to think about props. You don't have to go crazy -- just one or two ideas can make your photos much more interesting. Here are some of my favorite props from past shoots for inspiration. Try to think up new & unique ones on your own!
Hats are great for having something to hold in your hands, or for adding some variety to your pictures. I highly recommend them for senior pictures, pregnancy photos and family sessions.
Beach Balls & Boards
This family brought 30 inflated beach balls to their 30-person family reunion!
Plants & Flowers
A bouquet of flowers or a palm frond gives you something to fidget with. This is especially useful for couples & elopement photos, senior pictures, elopements or maternity photos where you may feel "on the spot" posing.
Long-exposure photos with sparklers are incredible! These night photos are a really fun, unique way to end a photoshoot. Please be sure to let me know if you want to do sparklers so that we can plan to start your session a bit later and stay a bit later.
Handwritten signs and block letters can make a super cute addition to any maternity shoot or an engagement shoot. The engaged couple above used this photo for their wedding invitations.
Bringing favorite items or toys can give the kids something to do, or act as a security blanket. The girl in the upper right brought her childhood teddy bear and we got one of my best sunset silhouettes ever with it! The boy with the kite was made nervous by the camera, but completely forgot I was there when playing with his kite or toy boat.
The first umbrella is a fixture at Hacienda Pinilla that is perfect for sunset silhouettes. The second one is a fun prop for little kids. The third is an adorable adult-sized umbrella that allowed us to take really fun pictures during a rainy-season elopement.
Bubbles are a fixture in my photo bag. They are an easy, quick way to add some fun and spontanaeity to a family session. It's usually better if the kids pop the bubbles rather than blow them -- otherwise they spill and get everyone dirty.
I was so impressed when this little girl thought up bubble gum as her prop -- all by herself! So cute and creative.
Pets (dogs, cats, hermit crabs...whatever!)
Ok, so a pet isn’t really a prop -- but they can be a really fun addition to any photo session! So long as the animal is well-behaved. Ideally, your dog can be let off the leash to run around with limited supervision.
Flower Petals & Flower Crowns
Flower petals and flower crowns are really inexpensive in Costa Rica, and add a certain magical quality to photos. I LOVED when the guests threw flower petals at this just-married couple. Love love love.
Flags, Scarves and Sarongs
The family above had lived in Costa Rica for several years, and hired me to take their family photos before they moved away. The Costa Rican flag was a really nice touch that had sentimental value. What kinds of items can you bring that have sentimental value specific to your family?
It's a lot harder to put a baby in a basket than you might think, but when it works it's adorable for newborn photo sessions. Baskets can also be great for family sessions – either for sitting on, or for having a teddy bear picnic.
Soccer balls are another staple in my photo bag. I like to let the kids run around and play for a while before we try to get any posed shots. When I get them smiling for real for the candids, they are more likely to smile for real for formal/posed pictures, too! Feel free to bring a football, frisbee or baseball to throw around, too.
Balloons are just fun. The end!
Lights can add interesting "bokeh," or the bursts of light in the background in the above photos. Christmas lights (either colored or white) work great!
Sunglasses & Hermit Crabs
Random sunglasses, hermit crabs or in the above photo – a giant parachute – are some other ideas.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about props:
1) What kind of feeling do you want the photos to have, and what items can help you get there? If it’s a couples session and you love wine, bring a bottle, glasses and a blanket. Or maybe you're pregnant and your cousin knitted you a baby blanket. Bring it to your maternity session.
2) What does your family like to do together normally? (If you like to throw frisbees, bring a frisbee. If you're football fans, bring a football to toss around or your fav sports jerseys. If it’s a family photo session and your kids surf, bring their surfboards.)
3) What kinds of items or accessories do you find beautiful that might make a nice addition? For senior pictures, maybe you'll want to bring your favorite jewelry or a flower crown. Or an antique necklace your grandma gave you that has sentimental value.