Children's photography provides a multitude of creative options for stylising the images with age-appropriate props. Simple elegance can be emphasised using black backdrops and blankets, or flair and fashion can be showcased through exotic fabrics and stylish wardrobes. Let your imagination run rampant and engage your young subjects in the act of make-believe, and you will capture unique images that parents will cherish for a lifetime.
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Backdrops and tabletop coverings are the main prop used for infant photography. Textures, colours and patterns are the main emphasis and the decision on which type of covering to use will depend on your client's desired image. For a fun and unique image, use an animal print in conjunction with a similar animal hat, accessory or stuffed animal placed near the infant. For a more traditional and elegant image, place the infant on a black velvet blanket with a black backdrop. Parents should also wear black long-sleeved shirts if they will be in this image and holding the infant during the photograph. Angel wings, colourful flowers, imitation bear rugs and knitted cocoons are also excellent props for infant photography.
Props for toddlers are a little more challenging, due to the nature of this age group. Toddlers are unpredictable and easily distracted, so the props must both capture their attention and look aesthetically pleasing. Stuffed animals, miniature gardening tools, small umbrellas or toy trucks are all good starting places. Ask the parents to bring the child's favourite toys and have a toy chest in the studio filled with a variety of additional options. Avoid toys with multiple, bold colours, as this may cause an unwanted contrast with the subject's clothes in the image. Provide a variety of smaller seating options for posing during certain photographs. Small park benches, miniature tea party tables, big wheels, tricycles and swings are all excellent seating props for toddlers.
Utilise a variety of creative options for this age group, as their attention spans will be longer and they will be able to sit for longer durations of time. Create a small shelf for each gender and keep the shelving stocked with specific toys and activities. On the boys' shelves, keep an assortment of sports accessories, such as footballs, fishing poles, soccer balls and baseball gloves. For the girls, a variety of stuffed animals, dolls, art supplies, books and costume jewellery should be kept on the shelves at all times. A special wardrobe filled with funky and eccentric adult clothing from different time periods can provide a multitude of prop options, particularly for siblings. Open the wardrobe, tell them to play dress up for 15 minutes and begin photographing their activities. Keep large, feathered boas, big cowboy hats, high-heeled shoes and cowboy boots on hand as well. Create an environment where the children can express their own creativity, and you will set the stage for natural and unique photographs for your clients.
Tweens and Teens
Tweens and teens should be advised to come prepared with their own props. This age group is beginning to explore their own individuality and forms of expression, so they may not relate to studio props. Provide a variety of solid colour backdrops---particularly white and black---and have seating props on-site as well. According to the Marketing for Photographers and Photography website, "the white background adapts different tones, hues and patterns, providing unique portraits." Swings, stools, benches, large rattan style chairs and beanbag seating are a good starting point for props for this age group. Taking the tweens and teens to an outside location is another idea. Let the setting serve as a natural prop, such as an old barn or a dock beside a lake or pond and incorporate the setting in your portrait.
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