When I’m planning to shoot a portrait, among the first questions I ask is whether the model has a prop they can bring to the shoot — something they have an emotional attachment to, that they feel comfortable with, and that helps express who they are and what their interests are.
Props are an invaluable tool for photographers. They relax the model by giving them something to do with their hands, something to think about instead of the camera’s relentless gaze.
So here’s the first of a series of posts on my favorite props. And this first post is devoted to umbrellas.
Umbrellas are a wonderful multi-purpose prop. Umbrellas can:
- Shade the model’s face from the glaring sun.
- Give the model something to do with their hands.
- Provide an interesting compositional feature:
- A colorful umbrella also makes a wonderful backgrounds for a silhouette. As you can tell, this red Japanese umbrella is part of my kit bag.
- Finally, an umbrella can serve well for its original intended purpose: protect from the rain — always a handy prop in the Pacific Northwest: