Hello friends. In last week’s post we talked about how to style the perfect flat lay, so it just seems natural to follow that up with where to source props for your product photos. I’m talking real, tangible places you can scout to get awesome props for your images. It’s a lot easier than you think, and if you’re planning ahead you can grab some pretty sweet items at some pretty sweet deals – or better yet, free. Check it out.
The Clearance Section
Ahhhh, the clearance section. My very favourite place in just about any store. I have spent far more time than I care to say in the clearance section of my favourite stores. Here are a few that offer up awesome selections for styling your photos:
Chapters/Barnes & Noble
Chapters is my absolute favourite store for my photo styling needs. And reading needs. And to fulfill my need for pretty things. And Starbucks. But anyway, Chapters always has a section in their store for clearance and these things are often pretty little home or stationary items. It’s a great place to check out. Sorry in advance if you spend way more than you intended (I usually do). For my American friends: Barnes & Noble is a similar type of store, so check it out (and let me know how it goes). Bonus: You can shop online too.
Sidenote: Chapters is a supporter of handmade business and I have a few friends who've had their lines picked up by Chapters. I shop there as often as I can, because I too am a huge supporter of handmade business (and you should be too!).
Not all Michaels stores have a clearance section, but they frequently have awesome markdowns, great coupons, and a section for odds and ends that are great for photo styling. I’ve gotten really cute notebooks, mini clipboards, scrapbook paper, cute pens, and lots more there. Definitely worth a look.
Give me a moment to grieve the loss of Target in Canada. It may have been two years ago that they closed, but I still feel a sense of loss. For my American readers, Target (as you no doubt know) has a fantastic section for odds and ends and lots of great clearance items.
Always awesome deals here, and they have super cute stuff. I could drop a lot at Homesense if I didn’t have self-control (or if my significant other didn’t rein me). Their home décor section is rife with unique items and they have really cool office accessories too. The last time I was there I scored some gold binder clips and huge gold paper clips. They had rose gold too. I highly recommend scouting them out.
I also recommend checking these stores/sections out on a regular basis. If you know your brand vibe and values, and/or have defined brand colours, you can easily pick up what will be a good fit for future use even if you don’t have a particular need for them at that time. If you’re not sure where to start in terms of defining your branding for your photography, check out my free downloadable styling planner with 90+ props ideas and stay tuned for next week’s post which is all about creating photos that fit your branding.
Poppin.com is a website that's fantastic for grabbing your brand-specific colours in a large variety of office accessories. The website is SO FUN. You can shop by colour or what items you’re interested in. Turquoise scissors? Yes, please!
Depending on your branding, picking up a few things on a nature walk might be exactly what you need. Nature is abundant with fantastic things you can use to style and give life your photos. Examples include moss, stones, bark, ferns, wildflowers, twigs, pussy willows… You see where I’m going with this.
Again, this one will depend on your branding, but there are loads of awesome accents to be found in the grocery store’s produce section. Sliced lemons, a bowl of shiny red apples, cherries, limes, oranges, and the like can bring a lot of character and feel to a photo.
Your Own Home
Never underestimate the value of finding styling props in your own home. From home décor items to cute coffee mugs, our homes are chock blocked full of things we can use to style photos. For example, you might have a really beautiful vase that would look great in some photos (bonus points if it has flowers in it). Or, you may have a set of wooden bowls that would look great with your products. You might have a vintage camera in the attic your forgot about, or perhaps an old wooden crate that perfectly fits your brand vibe. It’s important to be open-minded and keep your branding in mind. Walk around your house and look at your things through a new lens (first figuratively then literally). You’ll be surprised how much you find!
The Flower Shop or Your Garden
I’m a straight up sucker for succulents. I love the texture and colour of them and I especially like that they’re difficult to kill by accident which strangely seems to happen to a lot of the plants I own. I have a few succulents I keep “on staff” for photo styling and when not at work making a photo look great, they hang out in my office. In addition to succulents, there is a huge selection of plants for styling at your local flower shop or greenhouse. Fresh cut flowers, ivy, dried lavender… There are lots to pick from. Even better, if you’re so inclined to have some growing in your yard, you can pick straight from there.
Do you have any tips on where to get props for styling? I’d love to hear them!
Until next week,
Go-to product photography instructor for creatives since 2017
I'm a photographer and I teach makers, artists, and creatives how to take beautiful, compelling, and effective brand and product photos for their business.
With my signature straightforward teaching style and affinity for blending the technical with the creative, I'll teach you how to not just take a nice photo, but how to LOVE crafting stunning, stand-out images that significantly elevate your creative business.
A free 3-part video series to bust you out of your product photography funk so you can start taking better photos, faster
Free 3-Part Video Series To Bust You Out of Your Product Photography Funk So You Can Start Taking Better Photos, Faster
I would also add scout at Antique Markets, Flea Markets, Secondhand, and Consignment Shops. They are truly authentic if you are looking for something with warmth and character and personality, plus people instantly connect to a visual memory of things. Sustainable, too.
Also, don't hesitate to ask your friends! When I am on the hunt for something to use as a prop and I know it won't become part of our regular routine, I ask around and someone almost always answers, its great for collaborative efforts.
This was a great post, thanks for sharing 🙂