Props are a great tool to enhance the look of a photo. We’ve got two amazing photographers Kael Lam and Kevin Foo who share how their favourite photography props can be used to enhance photos!

About Kael Lam

Photographing moments and perspectives is a passion of mine and it has been that way since I first got my camera from Canon two years ago. A big part of my photography journey lies in experimentation, practice and reading tutorials. When I go on a photo shoot, I am always on the lookout for interesting subjects to convey a story. Here are a few of my favourite props that I recommend using to enhance your pictures!

Prop: Mirrors

Utilising mirrors is an effective way to create a dramatically impactful photograph. It allows you to create a symmetrical reflection that brings about a compositional balance that is pleasing to the eyes. I use the Canon EOS 6D Mark II which is equipped with a vari-angle LCD screen. This allows me to frame low or high angle mirror perspectives with ease.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | 0.5s | F9.0 | ISO 50 | Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | 1/20s | F2.8 | ISO 800 | Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Prop: Lensball Composition

Lensball is a fun and creative tool to bring along on a photography shoot. It allows you to take refraction photographs – this flips anything upside you view through the lensball. Shooting at a wide-open aperture gives you a shallow depth of field, rendering the background out of focus. Canon’s wide array of EF And EF-S lenses definitely delivers a job well done!

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | 1/800s | F4.0 | ISO 100 | Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Prop: Light Stick and Torch

As the sun sets and the night seeps in, we often find ourselves looking for light sources to illuminate our photographs. Light painting is an artistic and experimental way to photograph during night time. The technique involves opening your camera’s shutter long enough for you to ‘paint’ in the dark with a light source such as light sticks or a torch, effectively becoming a long exposure photograph. As such, mounting your camera on a tripod is definitely recommended to avoid camera shake which will result in an undesirable blurry scene. By using the light stick or a torch creatively, you can bring about a photograph with exceptional outcomes.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | 13s | F22.0 | ISO 100 | Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | 10s | F8.0 | ISO 50 | Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Don’t be afraid to create and try out new ideas for inspiration. Most importantly, remember to have fun!

About Kevin Foo

Kevin Foo is a photographer (and an avid Canon user!) that picked up this craft from his late father when he was in secondary school. Things only started to get serious for him when he was studying filmmaking in Temasek Polytechnic. It was from then that he realised that he genuinely enjoys photography enjoy capturing memories with friends and immortalising unique moments on the streets or somewhere around the world.

Prop: Environment

In this image, I used the surroundings & decorations as a frame to draw attention to the subject in the photo. The direction of the branches of leaves points towards the model. The prickly texture of the leaves create a sense of hostility and they contrast with the model’s soft expression to create tension within the photo. The cool, soft tones of the leaves and the model’s hair brings out the dreamy mood of the photo.

Model: Sierra Li Xing Bustos

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | 1/320s | F2.8 | ISO 100 |

How to use the prop

I thoroughly recce my shoot locations to pick out areas that might be useful in photos. Factors that make good locations would include 

  • Foreground
  • Background
  • Spaces
  • Framing
  • Decorations

Overall, the environment does play a part in bringing out the nuances of the mood you want to set in your image. The environment can be used to enhance and decorate the image or model (in the aspect of portraiture photography). Hence, I regard it as a prop in my photography.

Prop: Glass Pane

In this photo, I used a square glass pane to create a reflection against my subject in the frame. This photo was taken in Bali, at Pura Lempuyang Temple, a popular Instagram photo spot. The reflection warps the reality of the photo, to recreate the environment of the photo. This draws the interest of the audience because of how unusual a familiar setting has become. Also, when executed correctly, tricks such as using the glass pane helps to take away unwanted portions of the image and replace it with the subject’s reflection to better compliment the main subject.

Model: Jason Teoh

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | 1/200s | F4.0 | ISO 640 | Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

How to use the prop?

Always ensure that you are using a wide lens, I like to use a Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens at 24mm focal length. I place the glass directly below my lens and angle it to create the desired reflection. Practice makes perfect! 

Prop: Prism

This portrait was achieved with the use of a small glass prism. I placed the prism beside my camera lens to create a hologram-like image of the glowing neon lights mirrored on the right of the shot. This trick helps to frame my subject, filling up the void on the left and keeping the model centred. I chose to create a reflection of the neon lights to capture a cyberpunk style portrait. 

Although prisms and glass panes have similar functions, prisms are more versatile in use due to its shape. Prisms are able to capture reflections from various angles and its triangular form allows it to refract light. These light refraction from the glass prism also enables us to create dreamy rainbow effects on your image.

Model: Sidney Chong

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | 1/200s | F2.8 | ISO 800 | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

How to use the prop?

I placed the prism right by my lens and tilted it to achieve the desired reflection for the photo – this is best achieved with trial and error, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Model: Lucas Lim

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | 1/320s | F2.8 | ISO 800 | Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Prop: Phone

This image was created by stitching two different shots together. First, I captured a photo of the familiar Marina Bay Sands and the Helix bridge. In this shot, I captured the reflection of the skyline in the waterway by using the huge puddle nearby. Then, I snapped a photo of a smartphone held up as a prop to change up the familiar scene of the iconic structures. The objective of incorporating the phone into the final photo was to create a new perspective of the location. The use of the phone also helps to frame the subject and direct the focus towards the Marina Bay Sands.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | 10s | F8.0 | ISO 50 |

How to use the prop?

Using a phone to create perspective and provide framing can be easily used with the help of Photoshop. However, most importantly, it is very critical to know what the end goal of the image will be like. This helps to execute and recreate the image especially when stitching everything together in Photoshop.

Prop: wardrobe

This photo was taken during the Chinese New Year period when Chinatown was decked out in glowing red lanterns. I requested my model to wear a traditional Chinese Qi Pao and to carry an oriental paper fan. The dark-toned Qi Pao created a strong contrast against the bright red colours of the environment. The Qi Pao was also aligned with the location of the shoot, this helped to bring out the oriental mood of the photo. 

Different wardrobe choices will interact with the different environments to bring out the final mood of the photo. In the second photo, the model is wearing a long white dress and a floral headband. This draws out a mysterious or fairytale-like look. 

Canon EOS 5D Mark III | 1/60s | F1.4 | ISO 3200 |

How to use the prop?

Planning your model’s wardrobe is essential to the success of your shoot. The wardrobe will help to enhance and draw out the style of the shot. Before every shoot, I decide on the creative direction and match the model’s wardrobe to suit this. The wardrobe alone is, therefore, a strong prop in enhancing my photography.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | 1/600s | F2.8 | ISO 100 |

The next time you are trying to enhance your photo,  experiment with these props that Kael Lam and Kevin Foo have suggested. You will be surprised how they can enhance your photos in many ways perfecting your photo composition.