Sarah Wert of Modern Kids Photography suggests including items from the natural environment in family photos. "The best kind of props for family shoots are the kind that exist in the family's space already," says Wert. "For instance, a beautiful old gate or bunches of freshly picked flowers. Keeping the props as minimal and realistic as possible will help focus the imagery on the connection between the family."
Photographer Amy Smith appreciates the versatility of a family quilt. "I keep things fairly simple. A family quilt that I can pile everyone on out in a field or on the beach. I can use it to wrap the kiddos together and have them playing peek a boo under it. I like to use something that has meaning for that family."
Think about what your family likes to do together. Photographer Sarah Root says "Family shoots should reflect WHO that family is, and be uniquely their own. I don't like using 'props' as much as including things that say 'This is us!' If movie night is a special time for one family, it is fun to bring popcorn in and shoot them all on their living room couch. If another family cooks together, shoot them in the kitchen with their aprons on."
"The best prop for anyone is always something real and relevant to them," says photographer Wendy Laurel. "That is why shoots at people's houses are so fun -- their hobbies and personalities are on display. I like to shoot them with their skateboards if the kids skate, or with their surfboards if the family surfs -- something that means something to them."
Orange County photographer Tara Whitney says she once came across a family with a really unique idea. "They had this amazing, one-of-a-kind piece of art in their home and wanted to incorporate it into their newborn session. So we did. We laid the tiny infant in front of the painting, on an ottoman. The result was colorful, fun, and meaningful to them. Which ultimately, is my main goal. I want to give my clients something meaningful, not just trendy, which I think most props become. When a bit of time had passed and they needed photos again, we used the artwork once more."