Are your Dynamic props ready?

June 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Dynamic and Passive Props- Ready?

Most photographers perform at least a quick check of their equipment prior to a Photoshoot.  Are the batteries charged, do I have enough memory cards, what about the synch cables... etc. But sometimes one may not consider the ready state of props.  

A passive prop is something that someone may hold, let say a coffee cup. The subject may hold the cup or it may just be sitting on a desk in front of a person. In any case, the cup is a cup in most cases and it really does not have any action on its own (in this case, it may need to hold a liquid or just be empty). Simply be sure to bring the cup with you for the Photoshoot.

A dynamic prop may have a active function due to the characteristics of the prop. For example, in the image above, a basketball would normally bounce if dropped or deliberately bounced due to the material the ball is made from and the air within the ball. In this case however, lets say you want an image with your subject bouncing or throwing the ball.  The ball needs to have a reasonable amount of air within it in order to bounce (the dynamic action). If the basketball has been setting on a shelf for months, air could have leaked and you have a soggy basketball without much chance of a bounce.

Even a little more tricky is a candle. Why is a candle tricky? Well, you probably want it to be lit and have a flame as part of a scene. How much wick is actually showing at the top of the candle? If just a few millimeters, you will likely only have a tiny flame that will go out fairly quickly. Most candles need a little trough around the wick to get that strong frame most look for.  Wax often melts around a candle wick almost forming a flat surface that you may need to carve out before your event.

MilkMilk A flower by any other name? Depending upon the nature of your Photoshoot, a flower itself can be active (sort of). Suppose you were doing a water or milk bath shoot and decided to incorporate flowers with that shoot. One thought may be to pick of some artificial flowers well ahead of time so not to have to worry the day before about shopping for your favorite daisy.  In this case, you will need to flowers to FLOAT. Almost all artificial flowers which have a natural look will sink quickly in the bath. Most fresh flowers will float at least long enough to get though your concept.

Thinking about how you want your prop to work within your shoot and preparing well can save time as well as some embarrassment with your project.

Candle and basketball images courtesy of

Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern Pennsylvania 



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