Tuesday’s Tip: Props are Investments

Props are Investments too!

by Tabitha Frohardt-Johnson

TFJ PhotographyTFJ Designs & Confessions of a Prop Junkie

It seems like props are getting put into a little corner and not being given the full credit they deserve within a business these days.  They aren’t just pretty little extras anymore.  Props need to be looked at as an important part of any photographer’s business. Yes, any photographer … newborn, children, seniors, couples, families and even weddings.  Some of you might not agree with this but props are important investments just like the camera and lens you shoot with.  I’m always trying to teach this simple point …. Props are an investment in your business.  They can help carry your brand into your images and help define your style as a photographer.

Now let’s talk about some tips to keep in mind while you shop.

Tip #1 - Budget: Set yourself a budget.  It can be a yearly, monthly or even per prop budget.  The idea here is to help curb those pricey impulse purchases.  Setting a budget for yourself will help you save for the larger props you have your eye on plus they help keep the spending in check. However you choose to set your budget be sure to stick to it.  Once you get in the habit you will be thrilled you did.

Tip #2 - Quality: When you are out shopping for these investment pieces keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you have to over pay for them.  You want to look for quality items to spend your money on.  This applies to any prop you are shopping for … headbands, wraps, vintage crates, blankets, hats, faux flooring, etc, etc.  Choose your purchases carefully and don’t always let price drive you.  I know especially when we are all starting out we are looking to get more props for our money but be careful!  Instead of getting one very well made gender neutral crocheted hat that you would use time again you might fall pray to the cheaper not well made versions just to save a few bucks and trust me you WILL regret it later.  That much cheaper version might be crocheted poorly leaving gaps in the stitches, be made from cheaper itchy yarn/wool, not be sized properly for the age it was advertised for and will most likely NOT be used after the first time because of one of those reasons.  Trust me … I’ve tried it both ways.  Does this mean that every seller that has lower prices is selling poor quality items … No, there are new vendors that are able to offer lower pricing since they are just starting out and still offer quality items.  You can usually tell what quality to expect from the images they have of their products so look closely and pay attention to the details.

Tip #3 - Planning: Instead of just shopping for any bright colored goodie that catches your eye, and possibly blowing your budget, instead start planning styled sessions and look for specific props to meet your needs. You could use this planning tip in many ways … Color Ways, Themed Sessions like a Lemonade Stand or Tea Parties. Planning will help keep you from spending lots of cash on all those impulse buys again.  We all have gotten caught up in the excitement of the RTS {Ready To Ship} uploads that are taking over Facebook a few nights a week.  Those are great to shop at if you are buying a specific prop you need but can quickly blow your budget if you’re not careful. Make your plan and stick to it!

Tip #4 - Gender Neutral: It’s best to start your prop collection with items that are perfect for both girls and boys. This applies to small props like hats and to larger items like those super cute baby beds.  This is a sweet bed from Pottery Barn Kids that I found gently used for a steal and I just adore it.  It’s classic and simple and fits boys or girls.

Keep the colors neutral and you will be able to use that prop time and again.  The little hat below is perfect for girls & boys!

As your business grows so does your prop stash and you can start adding gender specific items to use with those neutral ones!

Tip #5 - Versatile Props: This tip is very close to the gender neutral tip but is more about actual props than colorways.  Versatile props are a must have for every prop collection because you can really get a lot of bang for your investment if you shop smart.  Take Vintage Crates for example … They are perfect for newborns or infants as shown here

Flip it over and they are awesome for toddler/child sessions as a seat to sit on or as a place to keep them in one place!

{My pouting wee man.  He didn’t like that he couldn’t run off!}

Running a successful and growing business is all about making smart choices in everything you do.  With so much thought going into branding, marketing, creative new sessions …. don’t stop there. Carry all those things into every image with the props that you choose to fill it.

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Susan Bartolini - April 10, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Great tips! I have a list of items that I need for my studio and try to stick to it. I am trying very hard to limit impulse purchases.

Sherelle Crawford - April 10, 2012 - 4:25 pm

thank you for this!! <3

Amy Clemons - April 10, 2012 - 4:42 pm

Great post!

Narelle - April 11, 2012 - 11:01 am

Hey! A fantastic way to get your faux flooring is to head to your local flooring place, they have samples of all of their floating floorboards and you can grab a 2 metre square piece for around $20-$30. There are no ripples, they will hold your backdrop tight and they stack away quite nicely. You can also change the way that they interlock for different patterns.

tori buck - April 15, 2012 - 6:43 pm

Entry #1 : Leaving some love ❥

Susan Johnson - August 11, 2012 - 5:33 pm

Love your blog site! I want to purchase some headbands from you if you still sell them, also I need 3 new 8×10′s (some you took here) of Braden and Brooke. Please contact me about the headbands so I can give you some additional info. Thanks alot. Susan

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