3 Tips to Using Props for Mini Sessions

For Photographers

Is there such a thing as too many props? Yes, the answer is definitely yes.

Too often, when we think of mini sessions that we plan, we want to add all the props. Then, instead of making the session about the children or the family, we make it about the props we are using. We spend too much time thinking about the props and money purchasing the props, that we neglect how we’re going to connect with the most important part of our session, the people.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that as photographers, we don’t ever use props. What I am suggesting though is that we carefully consider what we use during our sessions that will help tell the story we are trying to capture.


If you’re doing red truck holiday mini sessions and you have a Christmas tree to the side of the truck, old skates, pillows, lanterns and an old wood sled in the truck and then you want to add snow from a snow machine, is that going to take away from what’s already going on? Heck no! That’s going to add to the magic of Christmas. And, it will make for some pretty fun pictures! But, if you add another tree to the other side of the truck, a small tree inside the truck, 5 more pillows in the truck, different color ornaments on all of the trees, a wreath and wrapped presents, that might be overdoing it.

The key to using props well is to have balance. Don’t make your set up look like props just threw up all over the place. Sketch it out ahead of time or picture in your mind what you want your set up to look like. Do your promo images and see if what you had in mind works or if you need to edit your use of props. Personally, I’d rather see less props than more. And if you’re going to do more, make sure they are balanced.


One of my favorite things about mini sessions is that you can do them just about anywhere. The location of your sessions can act as your “props”. If you’re doing sessions in a field of sunflowers, lupines or the beach, you don’t need to have anything else but the land around you. I might bring along a small wooden ladder for younger children or a crate for sitting on, but that’s really it.


This fall I’ve seen several setups where photographers are taking the couch from their own living room, a couple of pillows, a rug and placing them in a field. And then adding a Christmas tree next to the couch and calling them Christmas mini sessions. This makes absolutely no sense. First, you don’t need to put a rug down in a field in front of a couch. In your living room, yes. In a field, no. Second, just because you put a tree next to a couch doesn’t make this a Christmas mini. And third, please make more of an effort than using your own couch. I love using couches, but not the one I sit on at night when I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy. I rent a gorgeous velvet couch from a vendor or search for a victorian style settee.

As you go forward in planning your mini sessions and think about what props to use, I hope you’ll think twice about what you need and don’t need to create beautiful mini session setups. Remember, sometimes less is more!

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