11 household props to style your watch photos with

11 household props to style your watch photos with

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Welcome to Study Club! New tutorials to improve your watch photography game posted every Friday at 9am PT. Follow @watchstudies on Instagram to join in on the fun. Happy studying!

Household props to style your watch photos with

Styling a shot is one of my favorite parts of lifestyle product photography. That said, it can be equally intimidating to tackle when you feel like you don’t have the right things to style your shots with.

If you spend enough time on Instagram — and let’s face it, we all do — it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you must have all the cool and beautiful things you see in your feed in other to create a beautiful photo. I’m talking about vintage cameras, fancy knives, rusty tools, and all the latest EDC drops. Don’t get me wrong, these are all beautiful things to style a shot with, but they’re usually owned by people who actually have/had functional use for them or have collected them as specialized items. Aka, the average human does not have these things. And that’s very okay.

Today I want to spend some time showcasing some of my favorite common household items that can be used as beautiful photo props. These are items that you likely already own a version of, or can be easily and affordably attained. They’re also a great place to start before you dive deeper into the deep dark rabbit hole of specialized props. Enjoy!


This week's challenge

Let's see some creative uses of household items as photography props this week! Make them interesting, make them unique, make them you! Don't forget to tag #watchstudies to share them with the community,


Household items that double as photography props

I’m a big believer in functional props — objects that have everyday use but can also double as being visually complementary to your subject matter (e.g. your watches). So what better way to find functional props than to scour your own home for things you might’ve overlooked.

It's worth noting that I've consciously omitted a few categories of items that are either too obvious (like watch and camera accessories) or too broad (like food and beverages). These items are definitely worth styling your photos with, but the hope is that you discover some new ideas from the list below to complement them.

Trays

Household props to style your watch photos with

I’m going to start with an obvious item that most people have already discovered: trays. Whether they’re made of leather, wood, metal, or anything else, trays work incredibly well as props because they can help visually compartmentalize items, add depth, introduce new colors and materials, and of course, bring subframing to your photos. Having a variety of trays in different sizes and depths can give you a wealth of styling options.

What I use:

Desk mat

Household props to style your watch photos with

Long before I started doing product photography, I got one of these beautiful leather mats to line my desk and protect it from the aggressive dragging of my Magic Mouse. As I started shooting photos on my desk, this mat naturally became a big influence on my dark aesthetic and I really started appreciating its fine grain texture and clean matte finish for the subtle character it added. Who knew my most used “prop” was literally sitting under my nose from the start!

What I use:

Notebooks

Household props to style your watch photos with

I know we’ve been in the digital age for a while but many people still love the tactile experience of hand writing notes. If you’re one of those people, you probably have a few notebooks hanging around.

Notebooks are beautifully personal manifestations of ideas, thoughts, and, if you’re like me, doodles. Flip to a random page to show off your chicken scratch or just use it closed to add depth and visual interest to a frame. I have 3 go-to notebooks that I primarily use in my shots and they work wonderfully stacked together or separate.

What I use:

Wallets, bags, and pouches

Household props to style your watch photos with

I call this the “stuff we carry other stuff in” category. Everyone is bound to have a few of these lying around that could work well as photo props.

Whether it’s your weathered wallet, your travel sling, your weekend duffel, your tech pouch, or your everyday bag/purse, what you carry to carry your everyday carry (yep, I said it) tends to not only be a nice reflection of you, but also adds a variety of depth, textures, materials, and folds to your compositions. Even the little pouches that you find inside product boxes can sometimes be a great addition to a photo, so keep an eye out for those.

What I use:

Books

Household props to style your watch photos with

It should be no surprise to anyone that books see one of my favorite household items to shoot with. Whether you’re just using the outside cover or spine, or flipping to a beautiful spread, books can offer so many interesting details to a shot. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll just direct you to my tutorial on shooting with books!

What I use:

Packaging

Household props to style your watch photos with

We are a generation of online shoppers which means we also get a ton of stuff shipped to our doorstep every single day. While most packaging is pretty boring and is better off recycled or used for cardboard shavings (great idea btw), some brands go the extra mile with their packaging and make keeping it for, say, photos totally worth it.

One piece of packaging I’ve held onto all year is a large envelope-style package from Taylor Stitch. Not only do they make all my favorite jackets, but they also make a really cool mailer. I usually use it to layer underneath other items, hiding the shipping label and such, while showing off the super cool printed SF map.

So before you trash it, see whether any packaging can live a second life in your prop kit!

Mug of coffee beans

Household props to style your watch photos with

A few months ago, I was taking an elaborate shot that involved coffee beans being spilled everywhere. When I was done sweeping all the beans off the floor, I decided to put them all into a mug and just leave them on my desk for a future occasion (I couldn’t use them for coffee anymore anyway).

A couple things: Firstly, I’ve obviously used spilled coffee beans in my shots a lot more since. Secondly, a mug of coffee beans makes the studio smell fantastic. Thirdly, the mug of beans itself has become a great prop!

Depth, texture, warm tones — this is why the mug of coffee beans visually works. Maybe it’s not representative of the average person’s reality, but it certainly accurately depicts mine! And if you’re not stickler for that anyway, then definitely give this one a try.

What I use:

Metal tins

Household props to style your watch photos with

On the topic of packaging, sometimes everyday products also come in some great looking metal tins. The products themselves may not always have a lot to do with the watches you're shooting, but they sure do add some aesthetic variety to your kit.

Metal tins also call back to an era where most commodities came in metal tins, so you're getting some vintage charm for free. Scuff it up a bit and you'll really get some character out of them.

The even better news is that, even if you don't have any metal tins at home, they're pretty accessible and affordable! Mints, hair products, and candles are just a few items you can find fairly easily.

What I use:

Jackets

Household props to style your watch photos with

I still stand by the opinion that jackets are the best accessories to a watch! Both stylistically and photographically, jackets add a wealth of details, materials, and textures that can complement any watch. And best of all, everyone has at least one jacket in their closet.

Check my tutorial on shooting jackets and watches to get a full breakdown of how to make the most out of a jacket as a photo prop.

Phones

Household props to style your watch photos with

Is there anything more representative of our collective lifestyles right now than our phones? Demise of our social skills aside, our phones actually make great photo props for lifestyle shoots too. Slap on your favorite case or go completely naked and you’ve got yourself a great complement to your watch and a accurate representation of the two things you always have on you.

What I use:

Cables

Household props to style your watch photos with

Like packaging, most cables are boring or straight up ugly. Occasionally though, if you’ve invested in some premium electronics like headphones or even chargers, you’ll find yourself with some equally premium cables worth pointing a lens at.

My favorite to use for styling are a set of braided Kevlar charging cables from Nomad that are living their second life after they died on me. Sucks that they don’t work anymore, but awesome that they’re pretty enough to live a second life. Ideally you can find cables around your home that work and look good though.


Your turn!

Let's see some creative uses of household items as photography props this week! Make them interesting, make them unique, make them you! Don't forget to tag #watchstudies to share them with the community,


Thanks for joining another edition of Sunday Study Club! If you enjoyed today’s tutorial, you may also enjoy this related content:

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